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Footnoting David Foster Wallace

Omer Rosen and Casey Michael Henry's Huffington Post article, Footnoting David Foster Wallace: Part 1, is an extensive refutation of Maud Newton's recent article about David Foster Wallace [previously, Responses to Maud Newton's DFW Article] as well as the 'flattening' of his work:
[...] But let us return to Newton's appropriation of Wallace. Her correlation that Wallace's impresario-as-wandering-dude tone in his non-fiction is responsible for a new kind of online and blogging lethargy -- too many watery qualifiers, e.g. "really really," too-self-consciously conversational intros, e.g. "oh, hi" -- is first made possible through a sequence of intentional flattenings.
For example, to present Wallace as a 'stoned slacker' (to use Bill O'Reilly's terminology), at even the linguistic level, is a misreading. One does not craft a 1,100 page tome in the form of an arcane mathematical structure (in this case a Sierpinski Gasket or, as Wallace describes it, a sort of "pyramid on acid") by happenstance.
Further, Newton's assumption that Wallace is the sole practitioner of the artful defusion of 'high brow' pretension by 'street slang' is an overstatement -- recall Joyce's exhausting of the entire practice in his "Oxen of the Sun" episode of Ulysses where the whole history of the English language is satirized, equally, from its inception to his contemporary cockney.
The overall point missing is how Wallace mastered the art of bridging academic sophistry with the innately human: e.g. combining a Wittgensteinian notion of addiction not existing beyond an addict's ability to articulate it with the more immediate philosophy of gotta-have-nonpresent-drugz-in-an-ever-fuckuppable-intensity. He was, as appears to be the too-obvious definition that seems to cow reviewers by its obviousness, the true crafter of a postmodern 'sincerity' -- a seemingly impossible task in the wake of Pynchon and the psychosexual slapstick of characters like "Oedipa Maas" and "Tyrone Slothrop."

Continue reading Footnoting David Foster Wallace: Part 1.


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