Just gonna jump straight in with a thought-jangle…
DFW’s thang was to try and acknowledge the messages he received every day, from pop culture, television, advertising and such, and I sometimes found the book dated in such a cute way. Compare James Joyce’s “God is a shout in the street” to Wallace’s “God does not have a beeper (1)”, or the essay about how no one wants teleputers read in an age where everyone’s Skyping each other. Perhaps that in itself says something, that a 17 year-old book could seem dated so quickly achieves Wallace’s message about the rapid growth and acceptance of media into everyday lives.
Hm, and I wonder how long sprawling social realism (which IJ, I know, isn’t really, but let’s call that a rough assumption) will survive- here’s my little engineer brain what done a calculation:
- Picture tells 1000 words
- IJ is 484000 words
- 2.25 million image shares per day on twitter
- Wallace said “I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today, of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it."
- IJ shelf life = (484000/(2.25M*1000*(25/500000))=4.3 days
THIS I think is the most important thang about DFW: he was just too sad. It took me a while to work that out, so do bear it in mind. Yes he was very very intelligent, well-read and spoke frankly to the point that he often made himself uncomfortable, but I would really advise against subscribing wholly to his view. This is clearer in the much easier to digest [b:This is Water|5986375|This is Water|David Foster Wallace|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344270056s/5986375.jpg|6160130], which you can find on youtube too, where his message while very astute just doesn’t leave you with enough to live for. Hold on to the things he said that ring true, but remember to forget them sometimes and look at cat pictures.
Anyway yeah, I loved it too. Wild, laugh-out-loud funny(2), so clever, I could rave on about it for as many pages as are in the book (3)!It says in this article
that 'There are two kinds of people. Those that have read "Ulysses" and those that haven't.'(4)
May I be so bold as to coin a new one: There are those whose favourite book is Infinite Jest, and those who haven't yet found the time to read it.(5)
(1) Destiny has no beeper. My bad, DFW
(2) I thought that was a book myth!
(3) And now that I'm done, I'm gonna use it for strength training exercises and spray myself with lemon pledge.
(4) Well, it was great and all, but I wouldn't wish it on every book reader.
(5) Although it did make me want a beer, so don't take my word for it: I may not have really understood the key message.