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David Foster Wallace and "The Long Thing": New Essays on the Novels
by multiple authors
March 8, 2017 - March 11, 2017

Done

Looking back on this, it's quite incredible how much vocabulary I first encountered in THIS book: eschatology, hermeneutic, teleology, etc ... shit that I now encounter all the time

? (2014). David Foster Wallace and "The Long Thing": New Essays on the Novels. Bloomsbury Academic.


Bloomsbury Academic, 2014. 272 pages.

96 8
12

p.224
plangent »
loud, reverberating, and often melancholy
p.219
obverse »
the opposite or counterpart of a fact or truth;...
p.216
single-entendre principles »
sincerity, straightforwardness, lacking in meta...
p.215
catechism »
a summary of the principles of Christian religi...
p.210
limn »
(verb) depict or describe in painting or words;...
p.104
on metafiction's Armageddon-explosion
[...] I believe that "Westward"'s fictional pro...
p.200
neoliberalism and boredom
In using the IRS as representative of neolibera...
p.194
Chris Fogle and alienation
An even more damning comment on this older exis...
p.157
Walker Percy
Among Wallace's notes for _The Pale King_ are s...
p.58
what's right in front of us
This emphasis on the importance of what is righ...

vi

Preface: David Foster Wallace and "The Long Thing"

DFW had 9 books published at time of death. 3 story collections: GCH, BI, O; 4 nonfiction: Supposedly, Consider, Signifying, Everything and More; 2 novels: IJ, Broom. 3 posthumous: TPK, Flesh, This is Water (FTL not mentioned; doesn't count as a book I guess). many of the essays here are from the 2011 Wallace conference in Belgium, organized by Toon Staes.

8 / 0
vi

Preface: David Foster Wallace and "The Long Thing"

DFW had 9 books published at time of death. 3 story collections: GCH, BI, O; 4 nonfiction: Supposedly, Consider, Signifying, Everything and More; 2 novels: IJ, Broom. 3 posthumous: TPK, Flesh, This is Water (FTL not mentioned; doesn't count as a book I guess). many of the essays here are from the 2011 Wallace conference in Belgium, organized by Toon Staes.

8 / 0
3

David Foster Wallace and the Novel of Ideas

on DFW being a novelist of ideas. most criticism refers to the essay-interview nexus of E Unibus Pluram & the preceding McCaffery interview. mentions his Dostoyevskian influences. centered about three pieces of dialogue: LaVache and Lenore talking about Gramma on the hill; Marathe talking about freedom-to vs freedom-from; section 19 of TPK and what it says about DFW's own beliefs (in finding a moral system in a moralless landscape, and moving beyond politics).

8 / 0
3

David Foster Wallace and the Novel of Ideas

on DFW being a novelist of ideas. most criticism refers to the essay-interview nexus of E Unibus Pluram & the preceding McCaffery interview. mentions his Dostoyevskian influences. centered about three pieces of dialogue: LaVache and Lenore talking about Gramma on the hill; Marathe talking about freedom-to vs freedom-from; section 19 of TPK and what it says about DFW's own beliefs (in finding a moral system in a moralless landscape, and moving beyond politics).

8 / 0
23

Wallace and Empathy: A Narrative Approach
Toon Staes (missing author)

"is empathy but a projection of the self?" (p23); good fiction as that which builds empathy. most of this is citing other people in the field, which I don't really care for. started off with an interesting premise but fails to deliver (veers off into talking about wraiths)

7 / 0
23

Wallace and Empathy: A Narrative Approach
Toon Staes (missing author)

"is empathy but a projection of the self?" (p23); good fiction as that which builds empathy. most of this is citing other people in the field, which I don't really care for. started off with an interesting premise but fails to deliver (veers off into talking about wraiths)

7 / 0
43

Boredom, Irony, and Anxiety: Wallace and the Kierkegaardian View of the Self

aw yes Allard den Dulk again. on boredom as one of the main themes in TPK and the rest of his work generally: "the challenges to becoming a coherent self and realizing a meaningful existence amid the fragmented plurality of the contemporary Western world" (p 42). traces the Kierkegaardian existential thought evident in his books: the self being something you make not have (Kafka is relevant here too; see DFW's Kafka essay); irony for the aesthete vs the ethical life view; boredom as anxiety due to the world being emptied of meaning. my fave essay here I think

1 / 4
43

Boredom, Irony, and Anxiety: Wallace and the Kierkegaardian View of the Self

aw yes Allard den Dulk again. on boredom as one of the main themes in TPK and the rest of his work generally: "the challenges to becoming a coherent self and realizing a meaningful existence amid the fragmented plurality of the contemporary Western world" (p 42). traces the Kierkegaardian existential thought evident in his books: the self being something you make not have (Kafka is relevant here too; see DFW's Kafka essay); irony for the aesthete vs the ethical life view; boredom as anxiety due to the world being emptied of meaning. my fave essay here I think

1 / 4
61

Modeling Community and Narrative in Infinite Jest and The Pale King

exploring various narrative models in TPK and IJ: Contracted Realism (not really sure; a form of realism telling us new things about the world around us?) and Spontaneous Data Intrusion (random intrusions of data, or two elements of the narrative cutting into each other, as often occurs with Sylvanshine), in TPK ; Argot (creating a community via argot; references Wittgenstein) and Free Indirect Wraith (James Incandenza visiting Gately) in IJ. i don't really know what the main point in identifying these narrative models was, though. he never goes anywhere with them, other than to conclude that "Pale King and Infinite Jest aren't themselves communities; they are gestures to community, and to its limits".

12 / 0
61

Modeling Community and Narrative in Infinite Jest and The Pale King

exploring various narrative models in TPK and IJ: Contracted Realism (not really sure; a form of realism telling us new things about the world around us?) and Spontaneous Data Intrusion (random intrusions of data, or two elements of the narrative cutting into each other, as often occurs with Sylvanshine), in TPK ; Argot (creating a community via argot; references Wittgenstein) and Free Indirect Wraith (James Incandenza visiting Gately) in IJ. i don't really know what the main point in identifying these narrative models was, though. he never goes anywhere with them, other than to conclude that "Pale King and Infinite Jest aren't themselves communities; they are gestures to community, and to its limits".

12 / 0
85

"Then Out of the Rubble": David Foster Wallace's Early Fiction

mostly about Westward and Broom. mentions Wittgenstein, solipsism, the threat of irony. not sure how to summarize it succinctly but it was kind of interesting

13 / 1
85

"Then Out of the Rubble": David Foster Wallace's Early Fiction

mostly about Westward and Broom. mentions Wittgenstein, solipsism, the threat of irony. not sure how to summarize it succinctly but it was kind of interesting

13 / 1
107

Representing Entertainment in Infinite Jest
Philip Sayers (missing author)

on Wallace's view of entertainment in culture and how it's portrayed in The Entertainment in IJ. mentions Barthes on spectator vs image, and Lacan's mirror stage. not sure what the conclusion is

7 / 0
107

Representing Entertainment in Infinite Jest
Philip Sayers (missing author)

on Wallace's view of entertainment in culture and how it's portrayed in The Entertainment in IJ. mentions Barthes on spectator vs image, and Lacan's mirror stage. not sure what the conclusion is

7 / 0
127

Encyclopedic Novels and the Cruft of Fiction: Infinite Jest's Endnotes

on the endnotes being long, jarring to read, and sometimes needlessly complex and pointless (e.g., jargon about a drug that requires a background in pharmaceutics to understand); basically, cruft. compares to House of Leaves. the reader has to devise their own way to read the book. basically they have to put in work. also on how the mass of data you encounter in endnotes is analogous to our information age (such "information" also being mostly pointless). strikes a balance between cruft and profundity. sometimes the cruft itself contains profundity, like James Incandenza's filmography (mostly jokes tho). on how to handle information overload in a grown-up way (see Deciderization for DFW's thoughts on that). a surprisingly good essay

17 / 0
127

Encyclopedic Novels and the Cruft of Fiction: Infinite Jest's Endnotes

on the endnotes being long, jarring to read, and sometimes needlessly complex and pointless (e.g., jargon about a drug that requires a background in pharmaceutics to understand); basically, cruft. compares to House of Leaves. the reader has to devise their own way to read the book. basically they have to put in work. also on how the mass of data you encounter in endnotes is analogous to our information age (such "information" also being mostly pointless). strikes a balance between cruft and profundity. sometimes the cruft itself contains profundity, like James Incandenza's filmography (mostly jokes tho). on how to handle information overload in a grown-up way (see Deciderization for DFW's thoughts on that). a surprisingly good essay

17 / 0
149

"A Paradigm for the Life of Consciousness": The Pale King

some context for TPK. on Sylvanshine and the other accountants. the influence of An Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis. Toni Ware as a representative for Easton Ellis' writing. on fiction and how it can fight against alienation. mentions Strangers to Ourselves by Timothy Wilson (which DFW read while working on TPK). on the role of consciousness as preventing us from being overwhelmed (connects with previous section)

11 / 1
149

"A Paradigm for the Life of Consciousness": The Pale King

some context for TPK. on Sylvanshine and the other accountants. the influence of An Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis. Toni Ware as a representative for Easton Ellis' writing. on fiction and how it can fight against alienation. mentions Strangers to Ourselves by Timothy Wilson (which DFW read while working on TPK). on the role of consciousness as preventing us from being overwhelmed (connects with previous section)

11 / 1
169

"What Am I, a Machine?": Humans and Information in The Pale King
Conley Wouters (missing author)

on selfishness in the elevator section of TPK (19). draws on How We Become Posthuman by N. Katherine Hayles: how we've moved towards a cultural glorification of computation rather than humanity, and how that's represented in TPK by the accountants doing what is essentially computation. goes into Claude Sylvanshine being a stand-in for Claude Shannon; the quote from the title is actually something he says on p370. suggests that we think of TPK as an almanac rather than a novel, and that "cohabitational harmony between consciousness and information, human and machine, is both possible and productive" (p186)

4 / 0
169

"What Am I, a Machine?": Humans and Information in The Pale King
Conley Wouters (missing author)

on selfishness in the elevator section of TPK (19). draws on How We Become Posthuman by N. Katherine Hayles: how we've moved towards a cultural glorification of computation rather than humanity, and how that's represented in TPK by the accountants doing what is essentially computation. goes into Claude Sylvanshine being a stand-in for Claude Shannon; the quote from the title is actually something he says on p370. suggests that we think of TPK as an almanac rather than a novel, and that "cohabitational harmony between consciousness and information, human and machine, is both possible and productive" (p186)

4 / 0
187

The Politics of Boredom and the Boredom of Politics in The Pale King

the history of boredom (acedia, melancholy, ennui, etc); how TPK documents a variety of boredoms (the existential, the quotidian, that arising from neoliberalism). he talks a lot about boredom and neoliberalism (cites David Harvey's Brief History of Neoliberalism and quotes its definition), and gives some political and historical context for Chris Fogle's chapter + Spackman stuff. on how giving in to boredom is irresponsible and childish; instead we must transcend it. it may be boring to pay attention to things other than the self, but if we want to find relevance and meaning, that's where we'll find them.

3 / 2
187

The Politics of Boredom and the Boredom of Politics in The Pale King

the history of boredom (acedia, melancholy, ennui, etc); how TPK documents a variety of boredoms (the existential, the quotidian, that arising from neoliberalism). he talks a lot about boredom and neoliberalism (cites David Harvey's Brief History of Neoliberalism and quotes its definition), and gives some political and historical context for Chris Fogle's chapter + Spackman stuff. on how giving in to boredom is irresponsible and childish; instead we must transcend it. it may be boring to pay attention to things other than the self, but if we want to find relevance and meaning, that's where we'll find them.

3 / 2
209

Trickle-Down Citizenship: Taxes and Civic Responsibility in The Pale King

TPK is the only novel not set in the future (instead, reconstructed historical past). the two broad arcs that DFW noted for TPK (in his notes) are:

  1. Paying attention, boredom, ADD, Machines vs. people at performing mindless jobs.
  2. Being individual vs. being part of larger things--paying taxes, being "lone gun" in IRS vs. team player (545).

on the 1981 Reagan tax cuts mentioned in the Author's Foreword, and how they inspired the (probably) fictional Spackman Initiative. goes into some of the political context (both recent and historical) around this stuff. about how TPK was intended to change the misleading way Americans (as a country) talk about taxes (i.e., focusing on the fiscal elements and not the civic duty aspect). the author is very forthcoming in his anti-Republican views lol I like it

5 / 0
209

Trickle-Down Citizenship: Taxes and Civic Responsibility in The Pale King

TPK is the only novel not set in the future (instead, reconstructed historical past). the two broad arcs that DFW noted for TPK (in his notes) are:

  1. Paying attention, boredom, ADD, Machines vs. people at performing mindless jobs.
  2. Being individual vs. being part of larger things--paying taxes, being "lone gun" in IRS vs. team player (545).

on the 1981 Reagan tax cuts mentioned in the Author's Foreword, and how they inspired the (probably) fictional Spackman Initiative. goes into some of the political context (both recent and historical) around this stuff. about how TPK was intended to change the misleading way Americans (as a country) talk about taxes (i.e., focusing on the fiscal elements and not the civic duty aspect). the author is very forthcoming in his anti-Republican views lol I like it

5 / 0