An even more damning comment on this older existential discourse occurs in the middle of Chris Fogle's story of personal conversion from “wastoid" to IRS devotee and wiggler. Fogle describes taking, ironically enough, a "Literature of Alienation" course during his "nihilistic" years at Fogle's failure to get through Camus' The Fall is partly ironic in and of itself, but his ability "to totally bullshit my way through the Literature of Alienation midterm" (186-7) suggests that there is something outdated or cliched about "alienation" and existential thought in the postmodern era. Whether or not the "B" Fogle received on the exam is really indicative of "a meaningless bullshit response to meaningless bullshit" (187), it does reveal the limitations of any literature of alienation. Instead of finding something of value in existentialist literature (for which, considering his nihilistic outlook on life at the time, he would appear primed), the younger Fogle finds it a waste of time and can easily mimic its familiar discourse.
Among things Julie Smith dislikes most are: greeting cards, adoptive parents who adopt without first looking inside themselves and evaluating their capacity for love, the smell of sulphur, John Updike, insects with antennae, and animals in general.
idea for DFW story (the list of dislikes, including an author relevant to DFW)
Faye's thongs slap. She wipes her forehead and considers.
"I'm in love with a guy and we get engaged and I start going over to his parents' house with him for dinner. One night I'm setting the table and I hear his father in the living room laughingly tell the guy that the penalty for bigamy is two wives. And the guy laughts too."
riffing on an idea (trope for DFW story)
Meanwhile, below the Staff Garage below the street, in the hugely echoing and deserted Executive Garage, the Account Representative had ripped the spreading cloth from the queer recession and was positively having at the Vice President in Charge of Overseas Production's defective heart. He administered CPR, beating at the soft dent of a chest's breastbone, alternating quartered beatings with infusions of breath down through the senior stricken executive's full but faintly blue lips and tilted head and into the rising sunken chest, the chest falling, the Account Representative taking affordable time and breath at every possible fourth-beat pause to call "Help" in the directions of the quiet street as, using CPR, he kept the Vice President in Charge of Overseas Production minimally alive, until help could arrive, as he had been trained and certified by the petite new-Bohemian almond-eyed Red Cross volunteer instructor—by whom, he remembered, all the students had volunteered to be straddled and infused, and whom the Account Representative had, one spontaneous and quartz-lit evening, bought a cup of coffee and a slice of nine-grain toast, and had asked to the Sales Trainees' Annual Formal, and had married—certified by her to do, one never knowing when it could save a life, he seduced utterly by his fiancee's dictum that you erred, in doubt, always on the side of prepared care and readiness to preserve minimal life-function, until help could arrive, his arms and lumbar beginning now to burn as he beat, bent, at the supine senior executive, pausing to call "Help" again and loosen his own stiff collar, sweat moving oily on the tight skin beneath his own newer lined topcoat and gray knit clothes, his own breath coming harder as he kept the inca-pacitated Vice President in Charge of Overseas Production mini-mallY alive, pending the arrival of help, at well past ten, amid Complete emptiness, calling "Help" unheard, the happily married and blankly kind grandfather of one person's own life now literally the junior executive's, to have and to hold, for a lifetime, amid swirls of forgotten exhaust, beneath the composed and watchful eye of his decapitated cycle's light.
cool paragraph (with the whole love story embedded within). idea for DFW story
"Lyndon looked over at my corner only once, when I lit a smoke, baring his teeth until I put the long cigarette out in a low ceramic receptacle I prayed was an ashtray."
idea for DFW story
'I was home again for Christmas: as of the evening of 27/12, we were drinking champagne, lying on her leopard-skin rug.'
'I told him a hundred times it wasn't a leopard-skin rug: the last tenant just had a dog.'
idea for DFW story (MC and his wife)
'And then all of a sudden it's like he suddenly wasn't there.'
'At this point she'd bring up how I seemed suddenly distant. I would explain in response that I had gotten, suddenly, over champagne, an idea for a truly central piece on the application of state variable techniques to the analysis of small-signal linear control systems. A piece that could have formed the crux of my whole senior year's thesis, the project that had occupied and defined me for months.'
'He went to his Dad's office at the University and I didn't see him for two days.'
'She claims that's when she began to feel differently about things. No doubt this new Statistics person comforted her while I spent two sleepless, Coke-and-pizza fueled days on a piece that ended up empty and unfeasible. I went to her for comfort and found her almost hostile. Her eyes were dark and she was silent and trying with every fiber to look Unhappy. She practically had her forearm to her forehead. It was distressed-maiden/wronged-woman scenario."
'She regarded the things that were important to me as her enemy, not realising that they were, in fact, the "me" she seemed so jealously to covet.'
just a cool idea (different priorities - inspiration for MC and his wife)
'Look: a huge black bird has curved through the corner of my sight and let loose a strangely lovely berry rainbow of guano on the center of the windshield near Smyrna, Maine; and under the arc of this spectrum from a remote height a unit of memories is laid out and systematized like colored print on the gray, chewed-looking two-lane road ahead of me. The trip I took with my family here to Prosopopeia, just two summers ago, and how she braved her own stone-faced parents' disapproval to come along, how she and my sister discovered they could be friends, how she and I touched knees instead of holding hands on the airplane because my mother was seated next to her and she felt embarrassed. I remember with my gut the unbreathable promise of a whole new kind of distance implicit in the dizzying new height we all seemed to reach in the airplane on this long, storm-threatened flight, up to where the sky first turned cold and then darkened to cadet and we smelled space just above. How the shapes of a whole terrain of clouds, from inside the sky, took on the modal solidity of the real: shaggy buffalo heads; tattered bridges; the topology of states; political profiles; intricately etched turds. We flew away over the flat summer board games of Indiana and Ohio. Thunderstorms over Pennsylvania were great anvils that narrowed darkly to rain on Counties. We had a steel belly. I remember a jutting, carbuncular ruby ring on the finger of an Indian woman in the seat across the aisle, a dot stained into her forehead, robes so full they seemed to foam. Her dark husband, in a business suit, with white eyes and White teeth and impossibly well-combed hair.'
just a beautiful passage
'The harnessed bundles of insulated wires all seem well connected to their burners' transformers, so I have to disconnect each bundle from its outflow jack on the distributor circuit and look at the circuit itself. The circuit is just too old and grimy and crude and pathetic to be certain about, but its AC-input and hot-current-outputs seem free of impediment or shear or obvious misconnection. My aunt is conjugating French ir-verbs in the imperfect. She has a soft voice. Its quite pretty. She says: "Je venais, tu venais, il venait, elle venait, nous venions, vous veniez, ils venaient, elles venaient." I am deep in the bowels of the stove when she says my uncle once mentioned that it was just a matter of a screw to be tightened or something that had to be given a good knock. This is not especially helpful. I tighten the rusted screws on the case of the distributor circuit, reattach the unit cord to the input jack, and am about to reattach the bundles of wire from the burners when I see that the harnesses, bundle casings, and the outflow jacks on the circuit are so old and worn and be-gooed that I can't possibly tell which bundle of wires corresponds to which outflow jack on the circuit. I am afraid of a fire hazard if the current is made to cross improperly in the circuit, and the odds are (1/2)4! that anyone could guess the proper jack for each bundle correctly. "Je tenais," my aunt says to herself. "Tu tenais, il tenait." She asks me if everything is going all right. I tell her I've probably almost got it. [...] The current used to heat a large oven even to WARM could melt a burner down. It's not impossible. I begin almost to cry. My aunt is moving on to ir/iss verbs. "Je partissais, tu partissais, il partissait, elle partissait".'
the aunt conjugating interspersed with him fixing the stove is pretty cool
Cinnamon girl. Full-lipped, candy-skinned, brandy-haired South American-type girl. A type: a girl the color of dirty light, eyes a well-boiled white and hair like liquor, scintillant and smoky; precisely pointed breasts that shimmy when her chest caves in, when her chest caves in and hand flutters worried about the breastbone, from the laughter. [...]
And I watched her crumple, eyes the color of cream squeezed right, [...]
describing women (esp. if they're dark-skinned) using food-based adjectives
inspiration: CF describing women pre-epiphany