In praise of the cruise's "unapologetic, gleaming banality"

Michael Ian Black for the NYT:

"But cruising’s simple sincerity never sat well with Wallace and the generation of cruise writers who followed on his sea legs. Dan Saltzstein, an editor at The New York Times Travel section, wrote in a recent articleabout taking a Disney cruise with his wife and daughter. “I’ve been a travel editor for nearly a decade,” he said, “and yet this was my first cruise.” The reason he hadn’t yet participated in America’s most popular vacation choice? “It hadn’t seemed like my bag.” Your “bag?” My dude, it’s a Disney cruise, not Burning Man."

Additional reading: David Foster Wallace's "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again".

David Foster Wallace and The End of the Tour

David Lipsky interviewed in the Awl:  "Hemingway once wrote to Fitzgerald: Your problem is you keep trying to write masterpieces. Just write as well as you can every day, and know that it will be good and at the end you’ll have a really good book. But if you try to write masterpieces, nothing will come. That’s what happens to people when they get the acclaim that they want for their work. That’s what David says at the end of the book: If you listen to the outside culture, if you care what they think about you, the weapon pointed at you goes from being a .22 to being a .45…"

The rewriting of David Foster Wallace

"Among the more dispiriting aspects of the Wallace canonization is how much it has been built out of his suffering — the way the cult has revived, for precisely the post-therapy, post-Romantic, self-help-soaked culture Wallace described and intermittently deplored, the Romantic picture of the depressive as a kind of keen-eyed saint."

Great moments in luxury cruise ennui

From the eponymous essay in David Foster Wallace's A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: "This one incident made the Chicago news. Some weeks before I underwent my own Luxury Cruise, a sixteen-year-old male did a Brody off the upper deck of a Megaship -- I think a Carnival or a Crystal ship -- a suicide. The news version was that it had been an unhappy adolescent love thing, a shipboard romance gone bad, etc. I think part of it was something else, something there's no way a real news story could cover.

"There is something about a mass-market Luxury Cruise that's unbearably sad. Like most unbearably sad things, it seems incredibly elusive and complex in its causes and simple in its effect: on board the Nadir -- especially at night, when all the ship's structured fun and reassurances and gaiety-noise ceased -- I felt despair. The word's overused and banalified now, despair, but it's a serious word, and I'm using it seriously. For me it denotes a simple admixture -- a weird yearning for death combined with a crushing sense of my own smallness and futility that presents a fear of death. It's maybe close to what people call dread or angst. But it's not these things, quite. It's more like wanting to die in order to escape the unbearable feeling of becoming aware that I'm small and weak and selfish and going without any doubt at all to die. It's wanting to jump overboard."

On the death of David Foster Wallace

The Point in 2009 -- "Wallace’s method was rooted in the conviction that literature ought to address the paradoxes and confusions of its moment. His moment was late capitalist America, which he knew from his own life manufactured nothing so surely as a sense of fraudulence and despair. This was especially true for the young and jaded readers of literary fiction, a demographic whose acute discomfort with meaning, emotion and value Wallace considered symptomatic of a broader unease in the culture. He saw how we despised ourselves for being persuaded by the same advertisements we parodied and ridiculed; how we settled for pleasure in lieu of fulfillment; how our achievements tended to multiply our dissatisfaction. Of all the people writing fiction in the Nineties, only Wallace spoke directly to us."

Brief Interview with a Five Draft Man

Amherst College interviewed David Foster Wallace in the spring of 1999: "Praise is always nice, but I don’t really feel like there’s anything terribly distinctive or original about the ‘voice’ of my stuff. Most of the modern writing I like the best is both sophisticated and colloquial—that is, high-level and complicated but at the same time intimate, sort of like a smart person is sitting right there talking to you—and I think I do little more than try to achieve this same high-low blend. Just having to write paper after paper—more writing my freshman year at Amherst than I’d done in three years of high school—and having first-rate adult minds respond to my stuff (I can still remember the wonderfully dry acerbic little comments that profs like [William] Kennick and [John] Cameron and [Alan] Parker and [Dale] Peterson would put in the margins when I tried to BS or be too cute)…all this helps."

David Foster Wallace and the Oxford English Dictionary

"Wallace’s writing is cited in almost eighty entries in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which use quotations from his novels, short fiction, and elsewhere. Given his love of esoteric vocabulary, it is not surprising to see David Foster Wallace’s writing cited for words like palpebral (defined in the OED as “relating to the eyelids”), oneiromancy (“the interpretation of dreams to foretell the future”), and presbyopic (“long-sightedness caused by loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye”). However, his writing is also used in entries for words as common as apple, dream, and camera, demonstrating the wide variety of writing and breadth of vocabulary that Wallace used during his career..." Also from David Foster Wallace featured in the Oxford Dictionaries blog: does "all of" have any legitimate uses?

David Foster Wallace on Updike (1997)

David Foster Wallace on Updike (1997)