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Home News by Category The Pale King A Morality Tale from the Grave - DFW and Bill Hicks

A Morality Tale from the Grave - DFW and Bill Hicks

The Daily Maverick's Kevin Bloom writes about The Pale King and David Foster Wallace in A Morality Tale from the Grave. The most interesting part of this article is Bloom's mention of Bill Hicks. Last year a great friend of mind brought up some parallels between the themes in comedian Bill Hicks' stand-up and some of DFW's re:marketing/advertising:
 
In one capitalised phrase, Wallace, who committed suicide in September 2008 after unsuccessfully attempting to wean himself off anti-depressants, encapsulates the debilitating cumulative effect of “marketing” on the human soul – kind of like the comedian Bill Hicks did before he too died young (“You are Satan’s spawn filling the world with bile and garbage,” Hicks famously told anyone in his audience who happened to work in advertising or marketing), although with the author it’s a bit more subtle. The Professional Smile, according to Wallace, is dishonest and sinister for the following reason: “[Since] it offers a perfect facsimile or simulacrum of goodwill without goodwill’s real spirit, it messes with our heads and eventually starts upping our defenses even in cases of genuine smiles and real art and true goodwill. It makes us feel confused and lonely and impotent and angry and scared. It causes despair.”
 
Here's a Youtube clip of Bill Hicks' marketing stand-up mentioned in Bloom's article (some NSFW language). I didn't know who Bill Hicks was until the conversation last year, and now I've watched almost all of his available performances and I'm working my way through a biography written by Kevin Booth. When watching some of Hicks' stand-up I sometimes get a feel for a decidedly Wallace view of the world, although Hicks defaults to anger and aggression in ways DFW never did.
 
 
 
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Last Updated on Sunday, 03 April 2011 05:09  

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