I’ve been reading a lot of David Foster Wallace lately. I’m one of those rare ducks who’ve actually read all the way through Infinite Jest despite its being weighty and intellectually challenging. I was mesmerized by the project and the well written management of everything going on in that tome that is bigger than the King James Bible and a far cry more enjoyable to read.
DFW’s last book project was recently published, The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel. And it was unfinished, but I will write a separate review of it at a later date. But I’ve also read several articles and essays about DFW as well as the interview book by David Lipsky, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace. And I am currently reading Fate, Time and Language: An Essay On Free Will which is an academic project full of lit crit/analysis about DFW and his writing.
The lilEinstein has been interested in what is engrossing my attention at swim meets and before bedtime, away from whatever it is he thinks I do when he’s not demanding my attention. He sees the books and notices that I’ve been carrying them around with me. The lilEinstein wants to know who this important person in my life is that distracts me from my motherly, wifely responsibilities.
So the other day while riding in the car, my bag tipped over and out fell the most recent book I’m reading. The lilEinstein asked if there is a new book by David Foster Wallace coming out. I replied that there wouldn’t be another one because the author died a few years ago. And just like my friends who still get choked up over Kurt Cobain or my high school history teacher who teared up about John Lennon in front of the whole class, I got a tad weepy about DFW and thinking that there wouldn’t be another brilliant project by this very smart man.
The lilEinstein saw my reaction and asked me why I was so sad. I told him that DFW was a really smart guy and that I was bummed we wouldn’t get to read anymore of his great ideas. Being a curious talker, the lilEinstein asked me how DFW died. I had to pause for a moment to consider whether or not I wanted to tell my 8 year old that DFW hanged himself. I was torn, but I’ve vowed never to lie to my child and so in this test of honesty, I told lilEinstein the truth about DFW having killed himself.
LilEinstein was a bit taken aback and immediately asked why a person would ever do such a thing. I told him that some people have a head/heart sickness called depression and it was not like just being sad about something, but an overwhelming feeling of sadness that doesn’t go away and that DFW had that sickness and killed himself when he was almost finished with his last book.
The lilEinstein got real quiet for a few minutes and then asked, “Is that like what happened to that painter guy? with the flowers? VanGogh?” And I was shocked that he made that connection and said, “yes, just like VanGogh.”. Then the lilEinstein said that DFW must have been a very very smart man. Surprised, I asked why he thought so and lilEinstein responded that DFW knew he was sick and ended his own suffering so that he wouldn’t have to live a life of heart/head sickness. LilEinstein went on to say that VanGogh made beautiful paintings, but had to end his own suffering too.
Of course, I miss the idea that there will be no more words strung together by DFW, but the humanness of David Wallace -the person- is now safely laid to rest, as far as I’m concerned. After that conversation with my own little smart guy, I realized that not having a faith in G*d or an afterlife kept me from the idea that there was any kind of closure. I felt a longing for some sense that this was a right/just thing to have done – to feel like the man of DFW could be in some kind of peace now.
And just like that, I was finally able to be consoled about DFW’s passing. LilEinstein’s simple, logical understanding of why a person of great worldly worth might not be able to carry on living and needed to end the suffering, just made sense.
– Posted on the fly using BlogPress from my iPad
Location:armpit o hell