Saturday, May 19, 2012

back to the jest

After taking a little break from David Foster Wallace's magnum opus, I was happy to revisit it in recent weeks. It is, like the title cartridge, dangerously compelling. The text is sensual and honest, and for me, a testament to fin-de-siecle hypercorporeality. As disconcerting as the Jest often is, it is also deeply comforting and equally inspiring. David Foster Wallace knew: he saw what was happening and had the courage to write it down. Certainly, it is not for the faint of heart, but it is a near-perfect articulation of the moment: prophetic hyperbole written with staggering virtuosity, heart-wrenching clarity, and the poignant essence of our corporeal reality. Like the best art, it is about being human--being both frail and extraordinary; touched by ineffable and necessary suffering.

"It's a kind of emotional novocaine, this form of depression, and while it's not overtly painful its deadness is disconcerting...Kate Gompert's always thought of this anhedonic state as a kind of radical abstracting of everything, a hollowing out of stuff that used to have affective content. Terms the undepressed toss around and take for granted as full and fleshy--happiness, joie de vivre, preference, love--are stripped to their skeletons and reduced to abstract ideas. They have, as it were, denotation but not connotation. The anhedonic can still speak about happiness and meaning et al., but she has become incapable of feeling anything in them, or of believing them to exist as anything more than concepts. Everything becomes a map of the world. An anhedonic can navigate, but has no location." [1]

1. Wallace, David Foster. 1996. Infinite jest: a novel. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. (692-693)

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