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"He’d gone down into the well of infinite sadness, beyond the reach of story, and he didn’t make it out."
January 22, 2010 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Tributes to David Foster Wallace [pdf]. With contributions from his sister Amy, his agent Bonnie Nadell, authors Don DeLillo, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Franzen and others, Five Dials magazine celebrates the life of a fine author and MetaFilter favourite (previously).

Full disclosure: magazine produced by Hamish Hamilton, who have also published a book of mine, but I have not been involved in Five Dials other than as a reader and have no stake in its success – just thought MeFi would appreciate this tribute to an author who has been discussed here many times in the past.
posted by him (27 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome, thank you for posting this...I'm still heartbroken.
posted by nevercalm at 6:53 AM on January 22, 2010


Wonderful. Thank you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:08 AM on January 22, 2010


Huh, it looks like these are / are based on the speeches given at the Memorial soon after his death; it's a shame Mark Costello's remembrance isn't included. There was some bit about conversation vectors that just whooshed right over my head that day.

Thanks.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 7:27 AM on January 22, 2010


Thanks for this.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:27 AM on January 22, 2010


Thank you for posting this. I never would have seen it. I'm with nevercalm; the other day, I was showing somebody that clip of him talking in Italy about the idea of failure (here) and I was surprised by how raw and upset and disappointed I still felt.
posted by penduluum at 7:29 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


It seems like his death was already so long ago, and yet here I am in a cubicle, crying.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:15 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thank you for posting this, and for the YouTube link, penduluum.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:28 AM on January 22, 2010


Thanks for the link. I am not sure what I miss more, the smart, cutting, eye-opening essays he would have written for GQ or VF or whomever, on Obama or Palin or Facebook or whatever else intrigued him, or those great messy recursive novels that now will never exist to change people's lives.

Anyhow. This line, in the tribute by his editor, cracked me up: "I read Our Mutual Friend over the summer, and it seemed totally clear to me that Charles Dickens had been deeply influenced by David Foster Wallace."
posted by aught at 8:55 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


"There are sentences that shoot rays of energy in seven directions" - Don DeLillo

Yes. This. Among many things. I just moved and everything's still in boxes or I'd go grab my copy of Infinite Jest and find that bit in the awesome Eschaton section where the game's gone completely off the rails and one of the kids is so angry he's jumping up and down and making his hat sort of lift off his head, and Wallace writes something about how two other characters, observing, have a brief conference and agree they've never seen that before outside of a cartoon. It's one of those sentences.

So is that one line in the opening passage of Infinite Jest where Hal's trying to talk and everyone's freaking out, what are these bizarre noise and gestures he's making, what's wrong with this kid? That line that serves as the whole section's - almost the whole book's - fulcrum. "I am in here." That sense of being trapped and ignored but completely sane in the midst of chaos. Four words. Also the one in the essay "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" which goes I believe "I have seen - and am powerless to describe - reggae line dancing." The whole horror of the cruise in a single dependent clause.

I could go on and on. Fuck, Dave, you were loved. Anyway, thanks for this - I'll be printing and keeping it but maybe not reading it all right away. After Kurt Cobain killed himself it was ten years before I could listen to the music as music and not the howl of someone choking on their own despair and just about to succomb. Kind of the same thing with all things Wallace, still.
posted by gompa at 9:27 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


nevercalm: "...I'm still heartbroken."

We're all still heartbroken...
posted by dancestoblue at 9:40 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thank you so much for this.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:41 AM on January 22, 2010


Oh God, the Eschaton game going off the rails as witnessed by deeply, deeply stoned observers. I start giggling whenever I think of it. That and Hal ending up in an "Inner Infant" encounter group therapy instead of the 12-step meeting he'd meant to go to, paralyzed with horrified vicarious embarassment.
I said I thought his best writing was ahead of him. And he said: ‘I like that story. Could you do me a favour and call me up every four or five days and tell me another story like it?’

Unfortunately I only had one more chance to tell him the story, and by then he wasn’t hearing it.
That section of the memorials hit me hard. I really want to quantum tunnel through to the alternate universe where he survived and kept on writing.
posted by Drastic at 10:03 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this.
posted by generalist at 10:14 AM on January 22, 2010


thank you very much for this.
posted by shmegegge at 10:19 AM on January 22, 2010


thank you for this. i shall now spend my day with this. au revoir mefi
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 10:20 AM on January 22, 2010


Thanks.
posted by Ratio at 11:09 AM on January 22, 2010


Thank you; The George Saunder's piece, with his suggestion that DFW be considered a great American Buddhist Writer really resonated with me.
posted by mrdaneri at 11:55 AM on January 22, 2010


'Yes. This. Among many things. I just moved and everything's still in boxes or I'd go grab my copy of Infinite Jest and find that bit in the awesome Eschaton section where the game's gone completely off the rails and one of the kids is so angry he's jumping up and down and making his hat sort of lift off his head, and Wallace writes something about how two other characters, observing, have a brief conference and agree they've never seen that before outside of a cartoon. It's one of those sentences. '

Ditto the thanks. Due to MeFi I picked up Infinte Jest and recently got to the Eschaton section which was one of the funniest, most brilliantly realised passages of writing I've absorbed in a good few years.
posted by Mintyblonde at 12:13 PM on January 22, 2010


Another thank you.

I recently re-read the title essay of A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and it was painful to see how many moments there are in the course of the cruise where it's clear that he struggled often and hard with being in the world.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 1:57 PM on January 22, 2010


You know, I've read infinite jest twice... and ... a good number of his essays. And... I love/hate his stuff... but I can't even get past the first paragraph of his sister's remembrance without getting too choked up to continue. So sad.
posted by nutate at 2:32 PM on January 22, 2010


Thank you very much. One DFW idea that to me seems really penetrating is (where was this?) that any kind of social gathering could meltdown into complete "terrified-tenderness" if just one individual let down the guard and came out of the closet with certain things about the deep need to be loved, the vexations of keeping up appearances, etc — the people involved in this meltdown coming to understand how identical they are underneath the frictional surface differences that make parties interesting. The fact that MetaFilter seems to collectively resonate with DFW's worldview I think means we are closer than most internet communities to this kind of collapse, and I think that's beautiful.
posted by mbrock at 3:25 PM on January 22, 2010


19 comments, 44 favorites. Hrm.
posted by nevercalm at 4:30 PM on January 22, 2010


+1 for "still heartbroken". Thanks for posting this.
posted by runehog at 4:56 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Donald Antrim's tribute was also not included. Antrim talked about a time when he was really depressed, hospitalized, suicidal and Wallace called him and told him that it would get better, that depression could be manageable. "I was sick and he helped me." I guess Costello and Antrim wanted their tributes to remain private, but I thought they were both incredibly moving and sad.
posted by mattbucher at 10:16 PM on January 22, 2010


That was beautiful. Thank you.
posted by far from gormless at 10:48 PM on January 22, 2010


Thank you for posting. I really wish we had him back.
posted by evisceratordeath at 8:54 AM on January 23, 2010


Thanks for posting the link. I read the essays over the weekend and then spent a lot of yesterday reading other tributes and essays about his work. I may have to pull down my (signed!) copy of IJ again and go for read number three. I loved his work so much and it's so heartbreaking to realize the pain and despair that he was going through. I never really knew about much of that until he was gone and can't even begin to fathom the suffering for both him and his family and friends. Their descriptions of his kindness and love really were beautiful. On a more practical note, it's also been really revealing to me to get a better sense of how devastating depression can be for those living with it. We are all better for having his words to remember him by.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:03 AM on January 26, 2010


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