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128

"By Hirsute Author": Gender and Communication in the Work and Study of David Foster Wallace

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K. Holland, M. (2017). "By Hirsute Author": Gender and Communication in the Work and Study of David Foster Wallace. In Pire, B. David Foster Wallace: Presences of the Other. Sussex Academic Press, pp. 128-223

133

[...] By offering her sexual betrayal of men as possible explanation of her condition, Markson--Wallace is right--converts profound universal suffering into the particularity and niggardliness of secular sin. But by reading her struggle to create self out of language as inherently masculine, Wallace obfuscates for the female narrator all revelation and atonement.

on Wittgenstein's Mistress

—p.133 by Mary K. Holland 1 year, 11 months ago

[...] By offering her sexual betrayal of men as possible explanation of her condition, Markson--Wallace is right--converts profound universal suffering into the particularity and niggardliness of secular sin. But by reading her struggle to create self out of language as inherently masculine, Wallace obfuscates for the female narrator all revelation and atonement.

on Wittgenstein's Mistress

—p.133 by Mary K. Holland 1 year, 11 months ago
136

[...] by using a feminist criticism of Markson's Kate to contemplate problems of the masculine self that exclude (or absorb) the feminine, Wallace appropriates Kate for a meditation on masculinity just as he accuses Markson of appropriating her for his meditation on solipsism. Both acts of appropriation are inflected by the dynamics of desire and power between selves and others, whether male and female or author and character/reader, in the context of language systems. Thus this early essay establishes a set of overlapping concerns that will occupy Wallace's work for his entire writing life: anxiety about heterosexual male assertions of power against women in physical and linguistic male acts of self-definition; and inquiry into language's capacity to communicate ontology of and between men and women, to connect them to each other and to the world, both through and despite sexual desire.

—p.136 by Mary K. Holland 1 year, 11 months ago

[...] by using a feminist criticism of Markson's Kate to contemplate problems of the masculine self that exclude (or absorb) the feminine, Wallace appropriates Kate for a meditation on masculinity just as he accuses Markson of appropriating her for his meditation on solipsism. Both acts of appropriation are inflected by the dynamics of desire and power between selves and others, whether male and female or author and character/reader, in the context of language systems. Thus this early essay establishes a set of overlapping concerns that will occupy Wallace's work for his entire writing life: anxiety about heterosexual male assertions of power against women in physical and linguistic male acts of self-definition; and inquiry into language's capacity to communicate ontology of and between men and women, to connect them to each other and to the world, both through and despite sexual desire.

—p.136 by Mary K. Holland 1 year, 11 months ago
137

[...] Frequently Wallace depicts that anxiety about sincerity as bound up in problems of language and communication, and often from the point of view of the author himself: how does an author convince a reader he is being authentic ("Octet"), or create a persona for himself that seems real to the reader (The Pale King)? How does he avoid manipulating a reader with narrative devices ("Adult World II")? How does a speaker convey timeless truth when limited by linear language ("Good old Neon")? How does anyone perform identity in mediated situations without becoming an actor ("My Appearance")? [...]

—p.137 by Mary K. Holland 1 year, 11 months ago

[...] Frequently Wallace depicts that anxiety about sincerity as bound up in problems of language and communication, and often from the point of view of the author himself: how does an author convince a reader he is being authentic ("Octet"), or create a persona for himself that seems real to the reader (The Pale King)? How does he avoid manipulating a reader with narrative devices ("Adult World II")? How does a speaker convey timeless truth when limited by linear language ("Good old Neon")? How does anyone perform identity in mediated situations without becoming an actor ("My Appearance")? [...]

—p.137 by Mary K. Holland 1 year, 11 months ago
140

[...] Thus women's misandry and misanthropy become the products of misogynistic male attempts to escape the despair that is the human condition. [...]

examples: Toni Ware, Faye, Granola Cruncher

—p.140 by Mary K. Holland 1 year, 11 months ago

[...] Thus women's misandry and misanthropy become the products of misogynistic male attempts to escape the despair that is the human condition. [...]

examples: Toni Ware, Faye, Granola Cruncher

—p.140 by Mary K. Holland 1 year, 11 months ago
143

[...] By eliminating the distance between symbols and meaning, Bruce eliminates the entire structure of signification made possible by a post-structuralist understanding of language, and enlisted by Wallace in all of his fiction. By eliminating the dependence of language on context and association, Bruce makes impossible exactly the connections among the distant points of text, author, reader, and world that language is meant to travel.

Bruce's solipsistic fantasy of a world in which physical and emotional connection are impossible because both we and language are closed loops, sufficient in ourselves (the story ends with Bruce ensconced in a stove) demonstrates the need for distance in the mechanisms of language in order to allow the kinds of translations between people that Julie's vision of love relies on. [...]

on Here and There

—p.143 by Mary K. Holland 1 year, 11 months ago

[...] By eliminating the distance between symbols and meaning, Bruce eliminates the entire structure of signification made possible by a post-structuralist understanding of language, and enlisted by Wallace in all of his fiction. By eliminating the dependence of language on context and association, Bruce makes impossible exactly the connections among the distant points of text, author, reader, and world that language is meant to travel.

Bruce's solipsistic fantasy of a world in which physical and emotional connection are impossible because both we and language are closed loops, sufficient in ourselves (the story ends with Bruce ensconced in a stove) demonstrates the need for distance in the mechanisms of language in order to allow the kinds of translations between people that Julie's vision of love relies on. [...]

on Here and There

—p.143 by Mary K. Holland 1 year, 11 months ago
144

[...] "Brief Interview #28" features two male students using 90s grad-school jargon (citing Foucault and Lacan) combined with pop-culture logic (citing The Rules) to explain their "postfeminist," "postmodern" sense of women as caught in a "double bind" in which they have no access to agency, fulfillment, or men's respect. By describing women's desire "to be irresponsible" as "a Lacanian cry in the infantile unconscious" (231), the students demonstrate not the dangers of Lacan's concept of gender--which they totally misrepresent--but the danger of misreading, and the enormous potential for enlisting intellectual argument to defend one's own oppressive desires. Thus the story criticizes male piggishness, not Lacan, and brilliantly parodies not academic feminism but the chauvinism that so often finds a way to cloak itself with it.

—p.144 by Mary K. Holland 1 year, 11 months ago

[...] "Brief Interview #28" features two male students using 90s grad-school jargon (citing Foucault and Lacan) combined with pop-culture logic (citing The Rules) to explain their "postfeminist," "postmodern" sense of women as caught in a "double bind" in which they have no access to agency, fulfillment, or men's respect. By describing women's desire "to be irresponsible" as "a Lacanian cry in the infantile unconscious" (231), the students demonstrate not the dangers of Lacan's concept of gender--which they totally misrepresent--but the danger of misreading, and the enormous potential for enlisting intellectual argument to defend one's own oppressive desires. Thus the story criticizes male piggishness, not Lacan, and brilliantly parodies not academic feminism but the chauvinism that so often finds a way to cloak itself with it.

—p.144 by Mary K. Holland 1 year, 11 months ago