The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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Love, Your Copyeditor: Infinite Dave

Nice little write-up about the Footnotes conference over at Love, Your Copyeditor: Infinite Dave (Thanks, Matt).  I must concur that it was awesome to meet Daryl Houston (Hi Daryl!), and it is true, I am not a zombie (but I do love zombies).

I'm in a bit of a bind over updates right now (it is high school report writing time) I have lots to post and not the time to do it, and when I do take a moment, like now, it is at the expense of completing more reports. Arrgh.


New Sincerity

(An edited/expanded version of a recent wallace-l post of mine)
I'm still unpacking stuff frm my head, but the most interesting thing I took from the conference were the few mentions of 'New Sincerity' as -maybe - the kind of name/label/approach to DFW and his contemporaries.

Post-post-modernism (as discussed by many speakers at the conference, including Burn in his fantastic keynote - at least for those people like me who have not read his latest book on Franzen) doesn't sit soundly with me. I understand that there are important evolutionary, critical,categorical and analytic reasons that make it useful and apt to use the term post-postmodernism, but the label itself appears (to me at least) to fall into the meta-trappings of post modernism and don't help to categorise just how different Wallace is from his predecessors. DFW's power is in his sincerity, his ability to connect with his readers and contemporaries, and better enable and encourage us to connect with others. New Sincerity sounds useful to me (particularly as an outsider reading the critical community with keen interest, but not - yet - current literary theory understandings).
Adam Kelly (Hi, Adam!) presented a paper at the Liverpool conference (as well as one this week about DFW's political essays), 'David Foster Wallace and the New Sincerity in American Fiction', to be published next year in, 'Consider David Foster Wallace' (edited by David Hering and published by the SideShow Media Group). I'm looking forward to reading it tremendously.
I am aware that New Sincerity isn't really as 'new' as I'm making it out to be (mostly because I don't play a part in the academic analysis of Wallace so I'm always playing catch-up) but this doesn't dull my excitement for there possibly being a useful and common point of reference to talk about authors like DFW, Eggers, Franzen, Powers, Chabon, Foer (whose latest non-fiction book Eating Animals I read on the plane) and others.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 November 2009 04:42

Post Conference / Jet Lag Wrap

I'm back home in Australia. It is much warmer, the sun is blinding, skies are deep blue, and for the first time ever I'm noticing we all speak with Australian accents here...
I know I've only posted brief summaries so far (I know what I posted was only a horrid tease for some of you out there), but over the next few days I plan to expand on them a little to you get more of a picture of the content.
It was a truly amazing event, big thanks to Judd and Alex the awesome conference organising duo along with a big hello to everyone I met. Particularly those long time Fantods readers that came over, shook my hand, and said thanks. It makes doing this totally worth it.
I found the conference to be a great balance such that it didn't completely focus on literary theory and analysis (I wouldn't have hated that, I did study Eng Lit at university after all). What this meant was that the conference, as a whole, was accessible (and productive, I think) to the whole Wallace community, from academics to readers.
Matt Bucher, the wallace-l listserv maintainer, and all around awesome guy, presented a spectacular paper in the 4th session about the online Wallace community. He's published it on his blog so you can all read it, and you must: Fantods: David Foster Wallace, wallace-l, and Literary Fandom Online
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 November 2009 04:08

Footnotes Keynote

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM—Keynote Address

Stephen Burn, Northern Michigan University

“Infinite Expansion Inward: David Foster Wallace and the Concept of
Character in Contemporary Fiction”

Awesome. I'm sorry, I don't know where to begin. Covered Franzen, Powers, and Wallace. History of post-modernism. 'End' of postmodernism. Barth's 2001 Novel Coming Soon (about an aging postmodernist and a young post-post-modernnist) which may be a response to some of the Barth refutation in Westard The Course... Burn the considered the characterisations in post-post-modernism and the connection to sciences, neuroscience and new ways of thinking about the distiction, or lack thereof, of the body and the mind.
This day has been worth every cent I spent getting here.

Footnotes Sessions 4 and 5

Sorry! Lost the wi-fi. Back now. Quick updates now. (Sorry for any typos)

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM—Panel Four: “The Biographical Question”

Moderator: Nick Maniatis, Melba Copland Secondary School, Canberra, Australia; Webmaster, The Howling Fantods

Erin Lee Mock, CUNY Graduate Center

“The Biography of Madness by Assemblage: The Case of David Foster Wallace” (Title has changed)

Very interesting analysis of the obituary biography. Many notes, more later.

Matt Bucher, Independent Scholar

Fantods: David Foster Wallace, wallace-l, and Literary Fandom Online

Matt was nothing short of fantastic. Engaging, entertaining, everything I'd hoped he would be. I'll have to hit my notes for select quotes. (Edit: A link the keynote, above, is even better!)
Christine Harkin, Independent Scholar

“Taboos, Discourse, and New Media: Blogging the Death of David Foster Wallace”

Christine's paper was a very interesting take on the language and social obligations of blogs with regard to how DFW's death was reported, discussed, and policed by the online community. Very interesting stuff.

2:40 PM – 3:40 PM—Panel Five: “Language, Communication, and the Project of Wallace’s Fiction”

Moderator: Gerhard Joseph, CUNY-Lehman College and the Graduate Center

Mary Holland, SUNY New Paltz

 “‘To be a [. . .] human being’: Mediated Immediacy in David Foster Wallace”

Mary's description of Octet as amplifying the effect of Barth's Lost in the Funhouse was paticularly engaging as well as her description of the use of language to express what it is to be a human being. (This is a horrid oversimplification of Mary's paper, I was so engaged I forgot to take notes.)

Jon Udelson, The City College of New York

“Inconclusive Endings: DFW’s Search for the Right Word(s): ‘Planet Trillaphon,’ Broom, and “Good Old Neon’”

Jon juxtaposed three of DFW's pieces, Trillaphon, Broom of the System, and Good Old Neon. He considered the way the three end. In the first two Wallace takes the final word and hands it to the reader, but in Good Old Neon, acknowledges that the solution (of self) is not in finding the missing word, but in acknowledging there is no word to describe it (my words, horrid notes, sorry).

Timothy Jacobs, York University

“Infinite Geist: Lexical Investigation, Mediation, and the Ghost of the  Author”

Is the narrator of IJ the wraith? Amazing wealth of evidence supporting this assertion. Wow. Why is all speech in single quotes? Is the whole novel reported. More on this later.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 November 2009 04:59

Footnotes Session 3

11:20 AM – 12:20 PM—Panel Three: “The Philosophies of David Foster Wallace”

Moderator: Nico Israel, CUNY-Hunter College and the Graduate Center

Maureen Eckert, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

“Where the Conversation Lapses…Understanding DFW’s Philosophy Thesis”
Maureen began with a summary of the history of Taylor's Fatalism argument and revealed how Wallace's thesis in  was able to deny the fatalism argument by refuting the argument's vailidity. This is the important part, Taylor had previously only been able to deny it by refuting premises in the argument. Thus Wallace's thesis is very important to the philosophy community.
Thomas Tracey, Oxford University

 “‘Like The Sky’: Responsibility in Wallace’s Early Fiction”
Thomas spoke about Wallace's take on the moral responsibilities one must perform in order to be human. Some of the things he touched on are the kinds of experience and suffering explored in Wallace's fiction that expand's one perception of what it is to be human.
Joshua Sperling, Yale University

“Reading Infinite Jest through Heidegger’s ‘The Question Concerning Technology’”
A particularly interesting take on the parallels between Heidegger's take on technology. The best summary I can give is the way in which Heidegger's take is that a peasant works with nature, while technology and industrialisation confronts nature. The technology is about human's dominating nature and extracting energy from nature.
In IJ the technology is Media and Pharmacologically based and extracts energy from 'the inside'. 
In both cases, the technology brings us to a cliff. Where we either hit a dead end or find a way to rebirth.
Time for lunch!
Last Updated on Friday, 20 November 2009 23:36

Footnotes 2

10:10 AM – 11:10 AM—Panel Two: “Filmic Entertainments”

Moderator: Carrie Shanafelt, CUNY-Graduate Center

Alison Wielgus, University of Iowa

“From the Abyss: James O. Incandenza and the Films of Infinite Jest”
I found this theoretically challenging at first (mostly due to unfamiliarity), but it was very interesting, particularly when Alison talked more about J.O Incandenza's prescence in IJ as mediated by film and the difficulty of describing film semiotics using language.
Rodney Taveira, University of Sydney

“In the Face of David Foster Wallace”
Australian speaker (good on you, Rodney). A wildly entertaining paper. Rodney develops a parallel between the cop (with a hard core porn addction) who is searching for the 'orgasm face' in  Big Red Son and Wallace's quest in listerature to engage and strip back and be really real. Wonderful 'montage' of the use of face in Wallace's writing.
David Hering, University of Liverpool

 “Dreams Within Dreams: Wallace, Lynch, Oblivion”

Lynchian geek out. David presented the parallels in Wallace's and Lynch's narrative stategies through Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, and Inland Empire. Spectacular!
Last Updated on Friday, 20 November 2009 23:37

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