brothercyst: DFW THOUGHTS

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Ed Champion posted remarks from writers about David Foster Wallace's death. Ed asked if I'd like to contribute and I declined. I replied:

"Thanks so much for asking me, but in this case I frankly don't feel able. I really don't know what to say--I've been less than well since I read about it last night. The idea that someone who *thought* so much concluded that he ought to hang himself is terrifying."

And that is still really all I have to say about it.


Tom said...

Nick, I think I see what you're saying. But no matter how deeply and frequently Wallace thought, the act of thinking can't be expected to reverse the pathology of something like clinical depression, can it? As Wallace's father said, "[Every treatment] had been tried, and he just couldn’t stand it anymore."

Little Miss Nomad said...

Deep, intelligent thought can be dark tunneling, sure, and the earth can weigh heavily. I think every writer goes through it at some point, and hopefully you have the neuro-chemical ability to compartmentalize. If you can't, if you don't put up a kind of a structure down there in the mines, that's when the world caves in on you. That's depression, and not everyone is able to dig their way out. Brilliant as DFW was, it doesn't follow that suicide is the inevitable fate of all really deep thinkers, or that he made some really profound choice. The man who wrote the books you loved was not necessarily the same person who hanged himself.

paula said...

The Times obit states he even tried electroshock, which is just heartbreaking. He must have really been suffering. I actually think that his intense way of thinking could very well be a symptom of depression. People who don't think and overthink don't question their purpose or pleasure in life. That said, I feel such profound gratitude every morning I wake up on this earth, such wonder at the mystery of human consciousness, and I wish I could have given him that. Not that I knew him, or that such a thing is possible- I'm sure many people tried to give him joy and did at various times. But still. I just wish it were different. I wish he hadn't been so miserable. He was so young and I really enjoyed a lot of his work.