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[P]
Roger Federer Killed David Foster Wallace

By anaesthetica in Culture
Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 02:16:46 AM EST
Tags: tennis, federer, dfw, suicide, an hero, footnotes, religion, depression (all tags)

On 14 September 2008, David Foster Wallace's wife, Karen L. Green, discovered the writer's body, hung in an apparent suicide. The conventional story goes like this:

  • Wallace had suffered from depression for over 20 years.
  • He needed antidepressant medication to be productive.
  • However, Wallace began to experience severe side-effects from his primary antidepressant, phenelzine.
  • He began to wean himself from phenelzine in June 2007, right around the start of the 2007 Wimbledon Championships.
  • His depression returned.
  • He tried other treatments, such as electroshock.
  • Returning to phenelzine, Wallace found that it was no longer effective.
  • His depression became even more severe.
  • Wallace committed suicide.

The conventional account bears the semblance of truth. But it is fundamentally incomplete. It is a post-Freudian tale of a man and his psyche only. Freud believed that God was an illusion, but not so David Foster Wallace. Wallace was a believer, and the religious experience is what is missing from the story of Wallace's untimely end. Indeed it was Freud's star pupil, Jung, who divined that one's problems past the age of 35 are fundamentally religious in essence. Herein lies the final piece of the puzzle.


Everyone Chooses Their Own Religion

Wallace outlined his concept of the omnipresent religious experience of human life in a commencement speech given to the 2005 graduating class at Kenyon College:

Not that that mystical stuff's necessarily true: The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship…

Because here's something else that's true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship – be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles – is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things – if they are where you tap real meaning in life – then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already – it's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power – you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart – you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.


The Faith of Wallace

What did DFW choose to see, to consciously give meaning, to worship? Tennis. More specifically, it was "Federer as Religious Experience." And it was Rog who ate him alive.

The specific thesis here is that if you've never seen the young man play live, and then do, in person, on the sacred grass of Wimbledon, through the literally withering heat and then wind and rain of the '06 fortnight, then you are apt to have what one of the tournament's press bus drivers describes as a "bloody near-religious experience."

Wimbledon is strange. Verily it is the game's Mecca, the cathedral of tennis; but it would be easier to sustain the appropriate level of on-site veneration if the tournament weren't so intent on reminding you over and over that it's the cathedral of tennis.

Here DFW exposes the sacred in his life, the Ka'bah acting as polar center to his universe, the cathedral whose flying arches meet at a point high above, directing him to the transcendent.

[W]ar's codes are safer for most of us than love's. You too may find them so, in which case Spain's mesomorphic and totally martial Rafael Nadal is the man's man for you – he of the unsleeved biceps and Kabuki self-exhortations. Plus Nadal is also Federer's nemesis and the big surprise of this year's Wimbledon, since he's a clay-court specialist and no one expected him to make it past the first few rounds here.

Federer has so far lost only four matches all year, but they've all been to Nadal. Still, most of these matches have been on slow clay, Nadal's best surface. Grass is Federer's best.

He sets up Nadal as Nemesis, the figure of Satan, a demonic, bellicose presence, a warring contrast to the figure of love, the prince of peace: Federer. Nadal is an outsider to the sacred grass of Wimbledon, specializing in baked clay courts.

The metaphysical explanation is that Roger Federer is one of those rare, preternatural athletes who appear to be exempt, at least in part, from certain physical laws. …And Federer is of this type – a type that one could call genius, or mutant, or avatar. He is never hurried or off-balance. The approaching ball hangs, for him, a split-second longer than it ought to. …[H]e looks like what he may well (I think) be: a creature whose body is both flesh and, somehow, light. This thing about the ball cooperatively hanging there, slowing down, as if susceptible to the Swiss's will – there's real metaphysical truth here. …Your experience, in play, will not be that you possess phenomenal reflexes and speed; rather, it will seem to you that the tennis ball is quite large and slow-moving, and that you always have plenty of time to hit it.

…Roger Federer is showing that the speed and strength of today's pro game are merely its skeleton, not its flesh. He has, figuratively and literally, re-embodied men's tennis…

DFW imagines Federer as a gnostic Christ, the avatar of God on earth, a Neo-like savior with the ability to transcend the constraints of the material world, to return living flesh to the dead.


When God Died

DFW committed suicide by hanging himself in September 2008. It is no coincidence that 2008 was a disastrous year for Federer.

  • Federer failed to defend his Australian Open title, losing in the semifinals to Novak Djokovic, ending his record streak of 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals. It marked the first time Federer failed to reach a Grand Slam final since the 2005 French Open and the first time he lost to anyone other than Nadal in a major since the 2005 Australian Open.
  • He revealed that he had been diagnosed with mono.
  • He lost in the first round to Andy Murray at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, the first time Federer had lost in the first round of a tournament in four years.
  • In April, Federer lost to Mardy Fish in the Pacific Life Open, despite Mardy only serving at 34%. He then lost to Andy fucking Roddick in the Sony Ericsson Open quarterfinals.
  • His weakness on clay became aggravated:
    • At the Masters Series Monte Carlo, Federer lost to Nadal, making 44 unforced errors and giving up a 4-0 lead in the second set.
    • At the Rome Masters, Federer lost in the quarter-finals to Radek Štěpánek.
    • Federer also failed to defend his title at the Masters Series Hamburg, losing to Nadal in the final.
  • At the French Open, Federer was defeated in straight sets by Nadal in the final 6-1, 6-3, 6-0, the second-most-lopsided men's final in French Open history and Federer's heaviest loss in a Grand Slam match.

And then, at the crowning event of tennis worship, Wimbledon, Federer's year unraveled completely:

Federer once again played World No. 2 Nadal in the final. A victory for Federer would have meant his sixth consecutive Wimbledon singles title, breaking Borg's modern era men's record and equaling the all-time record held since 1886 by William Renshaw. Federer saved two championship points in the fourth set tiebreak but eventually lost the match 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7. The rain-delayed match ended in near darkness after 4 hours, 48 minutes of play, making it the longest (in terms of elapsed time) men's final in Wimbledon recorded history. It concluded 7 hours, 15 minutes after its scheduled start. The defeat also ended Federer's 65 match winning streak on grass. John McEnroe described the match as "The greatest match I've ever seen."1

Federer limped on, withdrawing early from Masters Series Rogers Cup and Western & Southern Financial Group Masters. Chosen to represent Switzerland in the Olympics, Federer lost in the quarter-finals to James Blake for the first time in their nine match history. Following the Olympics, Federer officially lost his World No. 1 ranking to Nadal after a record 237 consecutive weeks.

Federer would win the US Open on September 13th, but it was likely too late for redemption. God's immanence on Earth had been retracted, the age of miracles was over. DFW was found hung the next day.

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Poll
This story should have had:
o Less failure on the part of the author. 38%
o Footnotes. 61%
o Footnotes within footnotes. 76%
o Same subject, but 1000+ page treatment. 76%

Votes: 13
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o David Foster Wallace
o suffered from depression
o phenelzine
o wean himself from phenelzine
o God was an illusion
o problems past the age of 35 are fundamentally religious
o omnipresen t religious experience of human life
o trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism
o Four Noble Truths
o Federer as Religious Experience
o light
o flesh. He has, figuratively and literally, re-embodied
o Neo
o suicide by hanging
o 2008 was a disastrous year for Federer
o losing
o diagnosed
o lost
o lost [2]
o lost [3]
o lost [4]
o lost [5]
o failed
o defeated
o unraveled
o 1
o lost [6]
o lost [7]
o Also by anaesthetica


Display: Sort:
Roger Federer Killed David Foster Wallace | 62 comments (53 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
Tennis is a sport not a religion (1.28 / 7) (#2)
by Armstrong Hammer on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 09:45:18 PM EST

might as well worship Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Linus Torvalds as  Gods.

Ut oh, someone hung themselves because they worshiped Bill Gates and couldn't deal with the bugs and security flaws in Windows Vista and MS-Office 2007.

Ut oh, someone hung themselves because Mac OSX 10.5 broke some old 10.2 legacy software, doesn't support their expansion cards for drivers, and did too many kernel panics on them.

Ut oh, someone hung themselves because Linux Kernel 2.6 didn't support their wireless card and broker their legacy software and caused too many Kernel panics.

Learn about the true liberal agenda in the United States of America.

Here are some more links that didn't really fit in (2.25 / 4) (#5)
by anaesthetica on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 02:36:17 PM EST

...this piece, but are topical:

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


Color me unimpressed (2.75 / 4) (#7)
by Harry B Otch on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 03:56:26 PM EST

Okay, so he spouts some hippie platitudes in a college commencement address which basically boil down to "you gotta serve somebody".  Bob Dylan said it better, and that was even during his shitty late-70's period.  But I think the real truth is in DFW's admitted man-crush on Federer.

All novelists are upper-middle class closet gays.  Whether they're Ernest Hemingway, John Updike, or Egil Skallagrimson, the truth gets teased out sooner or later.  Wallace just had his epiphany earlier than most, and spared the world from decades of sub-par writing that he would have inevitably produced had he lived.  

In a way he's lucky that it only took a male tennis player in a headband to make him discover the muse he needed in order to serve--or rather "service"--somebody.

-----

The Cornhole - Corn on the cob wrapped in hickory bacon with two hot dogs and two Colby-Jack cheese sticks wrapped in ground beef

Especially Egil $ (none / 0) (#10)
by sausalito on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 04:26:54 PM EST


_____________

GBH - "The whole point is that the App Store acts as a firewall between busy soccer moms and goatse links"
[ Parent ]

What about Truman Capote? (none / 0) (#17)
by anaesthetica on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 07:59:43 PM EST

He knew quite early on that he was a member of the international homosexual agenda, yet that epiphany seemingly had no effect on his willingness to continue publishing sub-par writing!

I think you're right though.  His New York Times piece on Roger Federer is the crux upon which DWF's character turns.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
Egil is TOTALLY upper middle class (none / 0) (#60)
by Korean Loller Blader on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 04:06:49 PM EST

From what I remember of him in High School, he used to bring either Lobster or Black Sea Sturgeon Caviar sandwiches to school and then throw them out in front of his friends only to order some fries and gravy. He'd say, "well, there goes $40, but I'm just not in the mood..."
D'oh! I can't seem to talk to the mod_
[ Parent ]
I have a fisrt edition hardcover of (2.50 / 2) (#8)
by Korean Loller Blader on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 03:59:59 PM EST

Infinite Jest, but it has two tears on the flyleaf. However, I am unimpressed with him as a writer. He falls into the Pynchon vein of things and I just could never get into it.

No zazzz, you know?
D'oh! I can't seem to talk to the mod_

*Two* tears? Jesus, it's virtually worthless now (none / 0) (#18)
by anaesthetica on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:01:55 PM EST

By "no zazzz" do you mean "mindnumbing levels of detail and intricacy that don't seem worth diving into"? Or do you mean something else?

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
I mean no zazz. Nothing exciting ever happens. (none / 0) (#24)
by Korean Loller Blader on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 07:49:15 AM EST


D'oh! I can't seem to talk to the mod_
[ Parent ]
Nothing happens in the world? (none / 0) (#28)
by anaesthetica on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:10:36 AM EST

Are you out of your fucking mind? People are murdered every day. There's genocide, war, corruption. Every fucking day, somewhere in the world, somebody sacrifices his life to save someone else. Every fucking day, someone, somewhere takes a conscious decision to destroy someone else. People find love, people lose it. For Christ's sake, a child watches her mother beaten to death on the steps of a church. Someone goes hungry. Somebody else betrays his best friend for a woman. If you can't find that stuff in life, then you, my friend, don't know crap about life! And why the FUCK are you wasting my two precious hours with your movie? I don't have any use for it! I don't have any bloody use for it!

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
What the hell? (2.66 / 3) (#9)
by GhostOfTiber on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 04:00:21 PM EST

For one, if you're making the argument that everyone has faith in something, then atheism is faith. But atheists in foxholes aren't atheists - they aren't professing that god doesn't exist anymore than mormons are going foxhole to foxhole handing out copies of THE WATCHTOWER.

Atheists in foxholes are nihilists.

SO what happened in Sept 2008?

  • Bristol Palin was revealed to be pregnant. Was he the father?
  • The Iraqi government took over from the US military. Did he think it would be like nam?
  • The south Ossetia war. Did he care about something the world ignored?
  • Tropical storms. EVerywhere.
  • The ACLU sues for something stupid again
  • oh fuck it just read the wikipedia link.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne

jehovah's witnesses $ (none / 1) (#14)
by LilDebbie on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 05:15:35 PM EST



My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Though i've never been down a fox hole (2.25 / 4) (#19)
by levesque on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:04:23 PM EST

On nihilism

Atheists claim to not believe in anything, they are mistaken, they do, they just don't have words for what they believe in. That's why they're so fast to break or pick up any religion under duress

As you mentioned, nihilists --atheists-- who's negative cognitions about belief and who's repression of feeling are very strong can also be very annoying under duress, but they will always break under enough pressure. But this transition is not always observable in the nihilist as the idea of "enough pressure" to cause a break can be equivalent to the level of pressure needed to cause death

On non-nihilism and non-agnosticism

In the context of the development of feeling relatively unencumbered by dysfunctional cognitive and cultural memes, I believe it possible to varying degrees, to have belief -- belief that does not wish for description, belief that one does not immediately wrap in cognitions. Though it may not always be perceived, when it does it clearly does not feel like a belief, a belief in something, and definetly not like agnosticism

A feeling somewhat like we are a part of, and not any smaller than, a much greater whole.

[ Parent ]

Wordy and long for (3.00 / 3) (#26)
by GhostOfTiber on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 08:28:08 AM EST

"I haven't made up my mind so no-one else has either".

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

Hum (none / 1) (#29)
by levesque on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:37:25 AM EST

I'd say not completely true or false

Glad you responded

[ Parent ]

Edit (none / 0) (#30)
by levesque on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 11:18:00 AM EST

Edit everything except the lines that start with "On"

Especially paragraph 2, especially its last sentence

I really let my sig lapse

I'd blame all kinds of things

I won't

A positive feeling

[ Parent ]

Atheists believe in nothing? (2.00 / 3) (#39)
by Wen Jian on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:27:34 AM EST

I think that is an error. Atheists do not believe in deities. They may well believe that things are manifestations of meaning - even if that meaning is socially constructed or mediated. Nihilists believe in 'something' - they are not necessarily solipsists by definition, but they do not believe that there is validity in the 'search for truth' as a philosophical approach.

Which is weird as I'm pretty sure that not even Nietsche counts as a nihilist in that case - but the fact is it is perfectly possible to maintain nihilism as a world-view, though difficult to do this and be a philosopher. From the sort of TV that the masses watch, and the sort of behaviour I see in the street. I wouldn't be suprised to find that the majority of the population of the western world think and act like nihilists (and always have done), even if they profess other, more conventional beliefs.
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]

ACCORDING TO THE MOST RELIABLE SOURCE (none / 1) (#42)
by anaesthetica on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 01:45:42 PM EST

...your definition of nihilism seems closer to absurdism. Even Nietzsche differentiated between a positive and negative form of nihilism.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
No it isn't. (2.00 / 3) (#43)
by Wen Jian on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 06:35:42 PM EST

Absurdists believe in created meaning, and believe that the creation of meaning may be valuable to the individual. Nihilism refutes both these. I say Nietsche may not count as a Nihilist because I think that he developed a model or framework for viewing the world. This, to a nihilist, is redundant; there is no explanatory model of the way things are.
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
This seems like a difficult position to defend (none / 0) (#50)
by anaesthetica on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 01:54:48 PM EST

Saying that Nietzsche wasn't a nihilist is like saying Camus wasn't really an absurdist, or Sartre wasn't really an existentialist.  You're taking the figure most closely identified with the philosophy and saying, 'well, not really…'

As far as I can tell, Nietzsche can at best be called a proto-existentialist.  But defining him out of nihilism seems wrong.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
I know. but the question remains: (none / 1) (#51)
by Wen Jian on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 04:56:07 PM EST

Is it possible to live in accordance with a nihilism and create any great works?
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
Semantics says yes (none / 0) (#52)
by levesque on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 06:05:54 PM EST



[ Parent ]
I don't know, but talking about Camus reminded (none / 0) (#54)
by anaesthetica on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 09:00:50 PM EST

...me of this passage from the Myth of Sisyphus, which I think DFW would nod in agreement with:
Newspapers often speak of "personal sorrows" or of "incurable illness." These explanations are plausible. But one would have to know whether a friend of the desperate man had not that very day addressed him indifferently. He is the guilty one.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
Thank you (none / 0) (#53)
by levesque on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 06:25:39 PM EST

Atheists believe in nothing?

Honestly, I was assuming atheists believe in nothing, and worse the lapse didn't jump out at me. I appreciate the kick.

[ Parent ]

I think you're taking the whole "there are no (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by anaesthetica on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:16:02 PM EST

...atheists" thing too literally.  The point DFW was making is that unless you are truly a nihilist (not just an angsty professed 'nihilist'), then there is something that gives your life a central meaning.  I suppose the only 'atheism' DFW would recognize would simply be an overpowering apathy about everything in one's life.

So, you may be an atheist on the question of 'is there a big guy up there in the sky who is watching me masturbate,' but you're not an atheist insofar as DFW (deliberately) conflates atheism and nihilism.

In any case, your bullet point list is worthless.  There's no explicit link between any of those events and DFW.  However, there is a very explicit, very long piece in the NYTimes linking DFW and Rog.  And there are a number of other pieces besides that DFW wrote about the centrality tennis to his life.

The link between Rog's meltdown ("He's taken off his shoes and one of his socks and... actually, I think he's crying") and DFW's downward spiral is explicitly supported, not just some random coincidence that your link to the Wikipedia (lol) page for 2008 implies.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
I for once embrace overwhelming apathy (3.00 / 4) (#27)
by GhostOfTiber on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 08:37:40 AM EST

I'm generation X and love Kurt Cobain!

No really, I'm generation X and I love Kurt Cobain.

Which means my central meaning in life is the destruction of Courtney Love. Were I religious, I would fear her vengeful spirit.

But anyway, I think your article doesn't pass the obvious test. In a Salon.com interview, Wallace discusses drugs and alcohol. Is it more likely he killed himself over tennis or is it more likely he was on drugs and drank too much and pulled a Kurt Cobain?

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

He seems to agree with my thesis that the (none / 0) (#31)
by anaesthetica on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 12:50:29 PM EST

...fundamental problems faced by American adults were religious in essence.

I get the feeling that a lot of us, privileged Americans, as we enter our early 30s, have to find a way to put away childish things and confront stuff about spirituality and values. Probably the AA model isn't the only way to do it, but it seems to me to be one of the more vigorous.

It seems to me that the intellectualization and aestheticizing of principles and values in this country is one of the things that's gutted our generation.

What made you choose a tennis academy, which mirrors the halfway house in the book?

I wanted to do something with sport and the idea of dedication to a pursuit being kind of like an addiction.

Alcoholics Anonymous (and thus simple (simplistic?) religion), addiction, and tennis are all intimately bound together in DFW's experience of meaning in life.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
alcohol has killed a lot more people than tennis (none / 1) (#35)
by GhostOfTiber on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:25:58 PM EST


[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

It could only be perfecter (2.85 / 7) (#16)
by localroger on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 06:38:52 PM EST

...if it had a footnote, and in that footnote you found an excuse to mention A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. But it'll do as is.

And that is what is so great about the internet. It enables pompous blowhards to connect with other pompous blowhards in a vast circle jerk of pomposity. -- Bill Maher
Goddamn I hate otherwise intelligent people (2.66 / 3) (#21)
by QuantumFoam on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:00:56 PM EST

that go on and on about sports. Except for Eschaton, all the tennis bits of Infinite Jest were tedious as fuck. It's like when George Will blows a column on fucking baseball...

- Barack Obama: Because it will work this time. Honest!

Don't even get me started on Vick and the Eagles $ (none / 0) (#32)
by anaesthetica on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 12:52:01 PM EST


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
The spirit of (none / 1) (#22)
by Strom Thurmond on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:18:20 PM EST

Jim Keith lives on with this story.

VEGETARIAN: An Indian word meaning "lousy hunter"

actually, Mr. Hanky killed him (2.66 / 3) (#25)
by N0574 on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 08:26:29 AM EST

circumstantial evidence ... after the suicide, being highly defensive of DFW's corpus. According to K5 investigators, what transpired was Mr. H became obsessed with making other people believe his favorite scribbler was a "great writer", took matters into his own hands, snuck into DFW's home, and substituted horsecock for his meds. The rest is K5 history.

-0, tennis.

- NCCTG N0574 CANCER PROTOCOL

Nice to finally see a (2.50 / 2) (#33)
by dakini on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:27:48 PM EST

story worth reading in the queue. +FP from me.

" May your vision be clear, your heart strong, and may you always follow your dreams."
It's only because at least a third of the content (none / 0) (#34)
by anaesthetica on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:57:12 PM EST

...is blockquotes written by DFW instead of by me ;)

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
good riddance $ (none / 1) (#36)
by th0m on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 03:47:19 AM EST



lrn2english (none / 1) (#37)
by jbs36 on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 10:20:07 PM EST

People are hanged; paintings are hung.

WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THIS WAS IN THE EDIT Q? nt (none / 0) (#38)
by anaesthetica on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 12:18:09 AM EST


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
This was entertaining but, (2.00 / 3) (#40)
by pesfb on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 10:50:53 AM EST

in essence, was just esoteric nonsense. If the information re Wallace is correct then it is clear he was simply deeply depressed and suicidal and his concept of the omnipresent religious experience merely a product of lunacy.

If sane, Wallace would have understood that there is no inherent drive to worship. Worship is a choice, not a necessity.

Hello nullo (none / 0) (#41)
by anaesthetica on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 01:24:42 PM EST

It's one thing to be depressed and suicidal, but that doesn't make one a lunatic.

I don't think that Wallace is making a cosmological/metaphysical argument about religious 'experience' and 'worship.'  I think it's really a very simple notion that humans have a very difficult time going through life without attaching meaning to something central.  Whatever gets prioritized highest for any given person contains an inherent risk.  Worship in this sense is not a choice, nor is it a necessity, it's more like a drive or proclivity or compulsion.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
Have you read Oblivion? (none / 1) (#44)
by TDS on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 09:11:42 PM EST

At the time it came out I thought it was quite amusingly Kuronic; particularly the story about the guy having to take a shit on live TV.
It doesn't seem at all funny now. Which is kind of ironic considering the theme of the voyeur's appetite for the suffering of others.

Grim stuff.


And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]

Forget to say (none / 1) (#45)
by TDS on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 09:14:57 PM EST

FFS, theres a first person narrative about suicide. I don't normally like drawing a line from the life to the art but it is positively autistic not to in this case.


And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]
Only read 'Incarnations...' out of that volume $ (none / 0) (#46)
by anaesthetica on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 10:15:14 PM EST


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
Read the rest of it. Or else! <nt> (none / 0) (#56)
by TDS on Tue Aug 25, 2009 at 09:42:08 PM EST



And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]
Yeah I find his speech to just (3.00 / 2) (#49)
by balsamic vinigga on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 02:28:35 AM EST

be trying to present some of the fundamental tenets of hinduism to a western population. The noise of consciousness has some hindu word that is pretty much exactly what he's talking about.

That's the interesting thing about religion, to me, is that it's an inseparable part of the human experience. But westerners tend to adamantly refute this because they see religion as some sort of dogmatic superstition when really it's just eons of wisdom about coping with being a human.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

+3, Highly enlightening <nt> (none / 0) (#55)
by TDS on Tue Aug 25, 2009 at 09:41:19 PM EST



And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]
Worship is for beta males. (1.00 / 2) (#47)
by JulianConrad on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 12:41:49 AM EST

When you see men bowing down in worship, especially Muslims an a mosque, how can you not think of beta chimps submitting to the alpha chimp?

Alpha males, by contrast, seem to dispense with worship, though they might go along with the pretense of piety, like good Straussians, to help keep the beta males in line.

There is no such thing as an alpha male $ (none / 0) (#48)
by anaesthetica on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 01:40:11 AM EST


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
More likely due to Sarah Palin (2.66 / 3) (#57)
by scodger on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 03:56:56 AM EST

If you read the column he wrote on McCains bid against Bush it is pretty clear he had a heap of respect for McCain, if not for his politics, for his genuineness and struggles (he kinds of dotes on the year in the box, and inability to comb his hair). The suicide was 14 September, Palin was announced as the running mate on August 29. Just over 2 weeks is about as long as it took to see what she really was.

Best thing on k5 in ages. (2.50 / 2) (#58)
by humongouspenis on Thu Aug 27, 2009 at 01:28:29 PM EST

But really, was anyone surprised? I think I got the worst depressive episode in my life from just reading all of DFW's work in one long stretch.

I especially recommend "Good Ol' Neon" from Oblivion.

100 days of DFW (2.50 / 2) (#59)
by Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 12:08:13 PM EST

in German: http://www.welt.de/themen/David+Foster+Wallace/

DFW is fairly forgettable. (none / 1) (#61)
by Korean Loller Blader on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 04:10:02 PM EST

I predict he will be basically forgotten in a few years. Even faster than Dos Passos, who actually won the Nobel and was prolific instead of revered for being a nerd among nerds.

I have to admit, Infinite Jest was a bad book. Not well executed and only a cursory attempt at experimental lit based on the most conservative structures available. Frankly, suicide made him interesting. And his profuse sweating problem.
D'oh! I can't seem to talk to the mod_

... what? (none / 1) (#62)
by sick puppy on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 01:12:21 PM EST



Roger Federer Killed David Foster Wallace | 62 comments (53 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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