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This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading. Currently can only be used by a single user (myself), but I plan to extend it to support multiple users eventually.

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David Foster Wallace's Balancing Books: Fictions of Value
by Jeffrey Severs
April 25, 2017 - May 9, 2017

Done


9780231179447

Columbia University Press, 2017. 304 pages. Unverified

66 42
8

p.244
tarrying »
(verb) to delay or be tardy in acting or doing ...
p.235
dialectic »
a discourse between two or more people holding ...
p.230
Mammon »
(noun) material wealth or possessions especiall...
p.229
Emersonian »
pertaining to Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 -1882),...
p.228
syncretism »
the attempted reconciliation or union of differ...
p.251
Wallace and Bernie Sanders
[...] some of the attractiveness of Wallace's d...
p.245
Marxist critique and postmodernism
[...] Neither is Wallace exceedingly interested...
p.238
David Cusk and This Is Water
[...] Consider David Cusk, the compulsively swe...
p.235
public resources in The Pale King
[...] Wallace gave his characters new names "co...
p.230
multitrack narratives
[...] Like "Mister Squishy," §16 is one of Wall...

1

Introduction: A Living Transaction
Value, Ground, and Balancing Books

about Wallace's presumed quest for balance, and the way he tries to understand "value" (which is, itself, a multivalent term). the goal: a "culture-wide redemption of value" (p.31)

13 / 5
1

Introduction: A Living Transaction
Value, Ground, and Balancing Books

about Wallace's presumed quest for balance, and the way he tries to understand "value" (which is, itself, a multivalent term). the goal: a "culture-wide redemption of value" (p.31)

13 / 5
33

Come to Work
Capitalist Fantasies and the Quest for Balance in The Broom of the System

an exploration of Broom as an interrogation of work in this era of late capitalism and conspicuous consumption

12 / 5
33

Come to Work
Capitalist Fantasies and the Quest for Balance in The Broom of the System

an exploration of Broom as an interrogation of work in this era of late capitalism and conspicuous consumption

12 / 5
62

New Deals
(The) Depression and Devaluation in the Early Stories

about Crash of '69 (a short story that I haven't actually come across yet), John Billy, Westward, and, briefly, London. examining their links to the Great Depression and the New Deal that followed. this chapter also mentions Graeber's Debt book

7 / 6
62

New Deals
(The) Depression and Devaluation in the Early Stories

about Crash of '69 (a short story that I haven't actually come across yet), John Billy, Westward, and, briefly, London. examining their links to the Great Depression and the New Deal that followed. this chapter also mentions Graeber's Debt book

7 / 6
88

Dei Gratia
Work Ethic, Grace, and Giving in Infinite Jest

apparently Don Gately is the character who makes IJ a masterpiece (p.88). This chapter's all about IJ: the Protestant ethic when it comes to work, the critiques of neoliberalism and trade, the portrayal of addiction as slavery, the questioning of wealth as something inherently valuable. Some other topics covered: grace and redemption, gifts, and language being the ultimate commonwealth (p.127).

8 / 7
88

Dei Gratia
Work Ethic, Grace, and Giving in Infinite Jest

apparently Don Gately is the character who makes IJ a masterpiece (p.88). This chapter's all about IJ: the Protestant ethic when it comes to work, the critiques of neoliberalism and trade, the portrayal of addiction as slavery, the questioning of wealth as something inherently valuable. Some other topics covered: grace and redemption, gifts, and language being the ultimate commonwealth (p.127).

8 / 7
135

Other Math
Human Costs, Fractional Selves, and Neoliberal Crisis in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

  • the title "Other Math" refers to a 3-page short story of DFW's from 1987 that was never collected (about a boy named Joseph who believes himself to be in love with his grandfather)
  • the bulk of this chapter concerns Brief Interviews, and the dangers of applying the concept of cost to human relationships
  • Adult World was influenced by the Asian stock market crash in 1997; one major theme in the story is the difficulty of defining moral values in an era of financialization
  • covers Zadie Smith's work: her essay on DFW, as well as NW (and how it could be read as a tribute to DFW)
5 / 5
135

Other Math
Human Costs, Fractional Selves, and Neoliberal Crisis in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

  • the title "Other Math" refers to a 3-page short story of DFW's from 1987 that was never collected (about a boy named Joseph who believes himself to be in love with his grandfather)
  • the bulk of this chapter concerns Brief Interviews, and the dangers of applying the concept of cost to human relationships
  • Adult World was influenced by the Asian stock market crash in 1997; one major theme in the story is the difficulty of defining moral values in an era of financialization
  • covers Zadie Smith's work: her essay on DFW, as well as NW (and how it could be read as a tribute to DFW)
5 / 5
167

His Capital Flush
Despairing Over Work and Value in Oblivion

  • Oblivion captures office cultures simultaneously infused with optimism and with the recent memory of economic downturns (like the dot com crash)
  • set/written between 1999-2004
  • by this point, DFW has pretty much given up faith in the power of the Protestant work ethic (p.165) - work is portrayed more as alienating than anything else
  • medallions and coins are a recurring motif (a precursor to Pale King)
  • another motif: the insurance industry (esp in Smithy)
  • The Suffering Channel: anorexia; the anemic work of the Brat Pack; Skip as the protagonist (the only one who really finds any value in his work). also the fictional German conglomerate Eckleschafft-Böd Medien is supposed to be a reference to Bertelsmann AG.
4 / 7
167

His Capital Flush
Despairing Over Work and Value in Oblivion

  • Oblivion captures office cultures simultaneously infused with optimism and with the recent memory of economic downturns (like the dot com crash)
  • set/written between 1999-2004
  • by this point, DFW has pretty much given up faith in the power of the Protestant work ethic (p.165) - work is portrayed more as alienating than anything else
  • medallions and coins are a recurring motif (a precursor to Pale King)
  • another motif: the insurance industry (esp in Smithy)
  • The Suffering Channel: anorexia; the anemic work of the Brat Pack; Skip as the protagonist (the only one who really finds any value in his work). also the fictional German conglomerate Eckleschafft-Böd Medien is supposed to be a reference to Bertelsmann AG.
4 / 7
198

E Pluribus Unum
Ritual, Currency, and the Embodied Values of The Pale King

  • work's potential for codifying shared values
  • cognitive labour based on attention--the true meaning of "pay attention"
  • TPK set in the past, and the farmland--atavistic, nostalgic
  • TPK as a direct response to Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling
  • mentions Egger's The Circle--apparently inspired by DFW
  • Freud's psychic associations between blood and money
  • coins embodying value (as a motif)
16 / 5
198

E Pluribus Unum
Ritual, Currency, and the Embodied Values of The Pale King

  • work's potential for codifying shared values
  • cognitive labour based on attention--the true meaning of "pay attention"
  • TPK set in the past, and the farmland--atavistic, nostalgic
  • TPK as a direct response to Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling
  • mentions Egger's The Circle--apparently inspired by DFW
  • Freud's psychic associations between blood and money
  • coins embodying value (as a motif)
16 / 5
244

Conclusion
In Line for the Cash Register with Wallace

  • the subtitle refers to the cash register analogy in TPK that was analysed at the end of the last chapter (which itself borrows from The User Illusion)
  • DeLillo's White Noise is mentioned
  • This Is Water is mentioned
  • a few weeks before his suicide, DFW cancelled plans to attend the DNC to profile Barack Obama
1 / 2
244

Conclusion
In Line for the Cash Register with Wallace

  • the subtitle refers to the cash register analogy in TPK that was analysed at the end of the last chapter (which itself borrows from The User Illusion)
  • DeLillo's White Noise is mentioned
  • This Is Water is mentioned
  • a few weeks before his suicide, DFW cancelled plans to attend the DNC to profile Barack Obama
1 / 2