Last year Greg Carlisle (author of Elegant Complexity and Morehead State University Professor) and Matt Bucher (@mattbucher, www.mattbucher.com, Sideshow Media Group and Wallace-l listserv owner) agreed to an email interview about Nature's Nightmare: Analyzing David Foster Wallace's Oblivion, Carlisle's latest critical text about David Foster Wallace's, Oblivion: Stories. It's taken us (me really) a while to get the interview live... but it's worth it.
Below is part one. I'll be posting the rest throughout the week.
Part 1 - Before Nature's Nightmare
THF: Welcome Greg and Matt! Let's jump back in time a little and discuss the first Carlisle/SSMG publication. Tell us a little about how Elegant Complexity came to be.
Greg Carlisle: I'm sure many people reading this felt similar to the the way I did while reading Infinite Jest. It was like I was having a transformative experience while reading it. I wanted to analyze it and chart out facts to try and solve mysteries, but it was just too good. So I said I'd do that later. I finished Infinite Jest in Jan 2001 and it would not leave my head. In December 2001 I sketched an outline of what I wanted to analyze/figure out/map about the book on a bit of stationery paper, and that was the beginning.
Dec 2001 Sketch, G. Carlisle. (Click image to enlarge)
2002 was all teaching, acting, and surgery for me, but I took a few failed stabs at an introduction and could never encompass the scope of what I was trying to do. So I just started making summaries of each section as efficiently as I could and typing out an outline of observation notes to go back and make commentaries for later. Early in 2003, I searched the web to see what Wallace commentary existed. I found The Howling Fantods and wallace-l and thought that what I was doing could add something new to that. When Burn's book (Infinite Jest: A Reader's Guide) came out that year, I read it and thought what I was doing was different enough from what he was doing, so I continued. When Dowling and Bell came out with their book in 2005 (A Reader's Companion to Infinite Jest), I still thought I was doing something unique enough to be of interest.
(Click 'Read more' below to continue)