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57

The Zen of "Good Old Neon": David Wallace, Alan Watts, and the Double-Bind of Selfhood

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terms
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notes

Kocela, C. (2017). The Zen of "Good Old Neon": David Wallace, Alan Watts, and the Double-Bind of Selfhood. In Pire, B. David Foster Wallace: Presences of the Other. Sussex Academic Press, pp. 57-72

the telling of a story by a narrator who summarizes events in the plot and comments on the conversations, thoughts, etc., of the characters

61

the most conspicuous feature of Wallace's late fiction is its radical drawing out of the time of consciousness relative to the time of diegetic action

—p.61 by Christopher Kocela
confirm
3 years ago

the most conspicuous feature of Wallace's late fiction is its radical drawing out of the time of consciousness relative to the time of diegetic action

—p.61 by Christopher Kocela
confirm
3 years ago
64

[...] For Watts, the chief value of Zen is that it presents the inability to control one's thoughts as proof of the fundamentally untenable distinction between intentional and unintentional acts--a recognition that gives way to a nondualistic vision of the self as fundamentally empty and interdependent with the world. By this reading, if Neal could only question his responsibility for the thoughts that bubble up inside him, the opposition he creates between "fraudulence" and "genuineness" would dissolve of its own accord, exposing the self as a "genuine fake." [...]

—p.64 by Christopher Kocela 3 years ago

[...] For Watts, the chief value of Zen is that it presents the inability to control one's thoughts as proof of the fundamentally untenable distinction between intentional and unintentional acts--a recognition that gives way to a nondualistic vision of the self as fundamentally empty and interdependent with the world. By this reading, if Neal could only question his responsibility for the thoughts that bubble up inside him, the opposition he creates between "fraudulence" and "genuineness" would dissolve of its own accord, exposing the self as a "genuine fake." [...]

—p.64 by Christopher Kocela 3 years ago
66

[...] For the reader, the significance of Neal's relationship with Master Gurpreet lies in how it anticipates the end of the story. Despite Neal's repeated promises to explain what happens after death, "Good Old Neon" concludes with the revelation that his entire monologue is the fantasy of a "David Wallace" who has imagined, in the literal blink of an eye, Neal's life and death while scanning photos in his high school yearbook. In place of the cosmic language of oneness employed by Neal throughout, the final lines of the story depict Wallace trying to defend these imaginative efforts against his own mocking awareness that "you can't ever truly know what's going on inside somebody else" (181).

—p.66 by Christopher Kocela 3 years ago

[...] For the reader, the significance of Neal's relationship with Master Gurpreet lies in how it anticipates the end of the story. Despite Neal's repeated promises to explain what happens after death, "Good Old Neon" concludes with the revelation that his entire monologue is the fantasy of a "David Wallace" who has imagined, in the literal blink of an eye, Neal's life and death while scanning photos in his high school yearbook. In place of the cosmic language of oneness employed by Neal throughout, the final lines of the story depict Wallace trying to defend these imaginative efforts against his own mocking awareness that "you can't ever truly know what's going on inside somebody else" (181).

—p.66 by Christopher Kocela 3 years ago