Monday, September 15, 2008

We interrupt this holding pattern to...remember David Foster Wallace

I can’t help but be saddened and disturbed by David Foster Wallace’s suicide this past weekend. Wallace hanged himself on Friday at his home in California, found dead by his wife, at the age of 46. He was one of the greatest writers of contemporary fiction to date. One of his novels, Infinite Jest, a sprawling work over over 1,000 pages (which I haven’t read, but which is on the never-ending to-read list) was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Greatest Novels of All-Time. His postmodern style kept readers interested, and he wrote about ironic themes, mostly about our culture and its addiction to pleasure and materialism in the search for happiness.

In an interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air broadcast, Wallace explained that the reason for his themes stemmed from his realization that though he and his friends had life much easier and were much better taken care of than the previous generation, they were still very sad. He wanted to know why. I only hope he found out.

It makes me wonder, all of this, why so many writers are unhappy and why so many take their own lives. What do they want to accomplish? Is it that they can’t bear the cruelty or the irony of the reality that has tortured them since their creative inception? Is it that they just can’t wait for the posthumous immortalization that awaits any great thinker or artist? What has the stereotype of the tortured artist done for (or to) these tortured artists?

I am happy; I am an artist. Can those two things be put together, separated only by a frivolous semi-colon? But for me, it is true. I am happy. But, then again, I write about food. I wonder if that is what separates the writers of fiction from the writers of non-fiction, and food in particular. Food makes me so happy. Here’s my reasoning for not succumbing to the fate that so many writers before me have suffered: I’m not sure if I can eat in the afterlife, so I want to live as long as possible so I can continue to eat and to be happy.

I also have an insanely amazing boyfriend, who I could go on about forever (but that’s another blogpost), but David Foster Wallace had a wife. They were happy together, from what I have read, so maybe that’s not a qualifier.

I’m going to share with you some of my deepest pleasures – some of the foods that make me so happy to be alive. And make me grateful for the ability I have to realize how happy I am, and how much I love life.

1. Falafel
2. Eating way more than one fortune cookie and passing the fortunes around the table to the person we feel needs it most at the time.
3. Nutella out of the jar (instant gratification meets instant happiness)
4. Any seafood stew (Bouillabaisse, Cioppino, Parihuela, etc.) coupled with crusty garlic-rubbed bread slices.
5. Cote de Gascogne wines, Colombard and Ugni-Blanc varietal blends – crisp and fruit-heavy, perfect for everyday, all the time

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I too was sad to hear about the death of David Foster Wallace.

But I don't know what a holding pattern is.