suicide

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."