by David Foster Wallace
he picked up a book. he read the book. it was him all over. the best version of himself! and the worst.
what is postmodernism, really? is it a way to understand the world, to define the world, to separate yourself from the world... when you are actually a part of that world? a part of the so-called problem? you want to put a layer between you and the world. you are so much apart from it, right? an unwilling participant in all of those repulsive patriarchal and terminally corny signs and signifiers, things that disgust you, it's not fair, just because you happen to have the misfortune to be born straight & white & male and, as they say, privileged. you need the distance, the alienation, the angst of being someone, something, anything, apart... because you know you are different. right? you just know it. you enjoy things and yet you don't enjoy them, you enjoy not enjoying them, your layer of hipster irony protects you and maybe fulfills you. and you will never admit that. you self deprecate, in your own egotistical way. you are the boss of you; no one can take that away. everything is so corny and full of bullshit, surely they must see that. and yet there must be truth there, if you look for it. you tell yourself that. you write a book, a great book about life and love and living and loving, etc. you write a book, or imagine yourself writing a book. it is not this book. this book is all about the unimportant things, the annoying things, the fake shit and all the bullshit. does it satisfy you? not really. so you read a book. you feel better. let the irony take over, it comforts you. you are not angry, not angry at all. you laugh at all that fake shit, all the bullshit. angry is a hot emotion. you don't feel those, at least not anymore.
you go to a movie set. Lost Highway. you try to keep an open mind but it is all fake, it is all bullshit. there are too many assholes in the world! and yet the director at the center of it all is not fake, he is not bullshit, he's not an asshole. does he understand something about life that you do not? what does he understand, what does he know? you want to know. he is just being himself, and you don't understand that. or maybe you do. it all makes you deeply uncomfortable.
you go to a fair; you go on a cruise. both are depressing. but funny! the kind of funny that you can only sheepishly admit. perhaps you are a part of the problem; it is people who look just like you who created this world that you despise. you try to enjoy the fair. you try to enjoy the cruise. you take enjoyment from your lack of enjoyment. you write a book, a collection of short works, at times even a "personal narrative". that's the phrase, right? you personally inject yourself into the narrative, into this ridiculous world. you feel better! but not really. fuck this life. fuck this earth. there is only one way to live in this life and that is through the glass of irony, a postmodern form of protection, the strongest barrier, it will protect you, just breathe, you know you can do it, it's not so bad,
my name is mark. i'm not white, not really, only half-white, does that count as white? i don't feel white, however that feels. i am bisexual, no really. i veer gay if that it makes it easier to swallow. oh and i wasn't born in this country, this U.S. of fucking A. and hey, what's money? i've never had it; i'll never get it. and who the fuck is David Foster Wallace? i dunno. he's some dude that everyone jacks off to, apparently.
i have a friend named Benji - a golden lad (i look at him through the lense of my very first impression, forever ingrained). he is nothing like DFW. once he talked about how he doesn't see race or class or sexuality, because he's never had to. he was raised by good progressives; he was raised to love life. nice life! he talked about how he wished everyone could be like him, not white or straight or a guy or from money or whatever, but able to look at things like they were and not let all the bullshit get them down, and so just live. not assign guilt or blame, just to understand, or try to, and then move on. not judge. you know, it should be easy, life should be easy, why isn't it? i listened to him say these things and i thought i wish. i wish i could be that way. you are so naive, Benji. i fucking hate you. i fucking love you. DFW is the opposite of Benji. and yet, and yet... is the difference merely a question of awareness? of critical distance? i can't imagine being a person like Benji, being that blithe. and he's not even that blithe. but i think Benji could enjoy a county fair, an awful cruise, he could enjoy it without irony i think. maybe. certainly without that underlying feeling of sadness and, yep, i won't pretend, without the condescending irritation at the futility of all these fucking gestures, the fake shit and the bullshit, the power imbalances, the need to make form equal meaning. i love Benji but i'm not sure i understand him. so why do i understand David Foster Wallace? he is nothing like me. he is like Benji. straight white male; money: not a problem. what do i have in common with David Foster Wallace? nothing. the idea is ludicrous. and yet, and yet... why do i read him and feel like i am reading my own thoughts, right there on the page? my own thoughts, staring back at me.