Thursday, September 18, 2008


Y'know, the passing of David Foster Wallace - someone I never met - is really still chewing on me. I'm kind of embarrassed about it. I'd be worried about myself were I younger and had less of an understanding about the vagaries of mood and emotion that we all go through that usually have nothing to do with anything (or, to put it simply, some days you have the blues - or, mamma said there'd be days like this).

Reading this (via has been a salve. But it's also like having to tear off and reapply a Band-Aid over and over again because you can't seem to cover the wound correctly.

Perhaps also I should've avoided reading the comments to an article on about overpopulation. I wisely skipped the article because articles of that nature - alarmist piffle about an issue we really can't do a single thing about, or at least do anything that wouldn't be hideously immoral - are just textual analogs those misguided 20-somethings who snivel that bringing another child into this already crowded world is a crime. (But we can forgive them this folly of youth; it's the people over 35 who still hold opinions like that who should be watched closely at all times.) At any rate, on the first page of comments someone crows with cynical glee that all we need is a good pandemic to fix things, and someone else chimes in about how Gaia will adjust and thin out the herd once we've become too much of a burden.

It's a bitch to read such cavalier dismissals of death and destruction when you're stinging from a tragic and needless death (or suicide, in this case). And even when someone has had a good run, like (presumably) Richard Wright of Pink Floyd, their death is still a loss.

It puts me in the mind to write fan letters to my other heroes (listed below), but the recursive trouble with that is even though they meant a lot to me, the reverse is not true, so no matter how eloquent or earnest the letter, it would probably be equivalent to a raindrop in the ocean.

- John Irving
- Stephen King
- Kurt Vonnegut (alas - too late)
- Jeff Lynne (of ELO fame)
- Jerry Lewis (Yes, I adored him as a child and still think he's underrated. Watching Martin and Lewis movies, and even the latter Lewis movies, was something my Grandmother and I did ritually.)
- Red Skelton (alas)
- Bill Cosby
- Flip Wilson (alas)
- The Smothers Brothers
- Chris Ballew (of PoUSA fame)
- Donald Fagen (of Steely Dan fame)

Another possible reason that this particular death is troubling me is I'm exactly 11 days older than DFW. As we've all experienced, when someone your age encounters eternity, it hits you harder than someone way outside of your range (though the really young ones smart more).

But perhaps the main reason is since my wife and I lost a child to a very late miscarriage, death now always means to me the loss of hope and potential, and what that person would have brought to the world. (Which is the other reason why when some whiphead moans about "bringing more unneeded human lives into an already overtaxed world" I have to restrain myself. You never know if that's gonna be the person who cures cancer (not that that will ever happen) or does some other amazing thing for humanity.)

When the loss is someone as reportedly kind and decent as David Foster Wallace - not to mention gargantuanly talented he was - it just feels like a cosmic kick in the nuts. You ratchet through all of Kubler-Ross' stages. You snap at children on the street for a few days. When you witness people mistreating each other, you want to (ironically) deliver an angry lecture on not being such putzes. Every other internal dialogue is laced with profanity. The playlist skews to thrash and metal. You laugh too hard at jokes.

It'll pass, but dammit anway.

Btw, fwiw, iyi*, this blog's name is derived from DFW's style - also a fan of digression. (The other father of the name is someone who actually used the phrase when he realized he was wandering too far off topic. Thank you Earl.)

*Yet another tribute to DFW.


Whisky Prajer said...

It is a rotten thing to lose DFW this way, especially as the US struggles to dissuade itself from further political insanity. Man, do I wish his voice was still among the chorus pointing the way to proper reflection of the democratic process, such as it is. I want to blame something for this tragedy, but with suicide such options are taken away. He was obviously in more torment than anyone could guess, and that seems like a greater tragedy than even his passing.

yahmdallah said...

To that point, I always especially mourn for those who die in "a time of darkness" because it may have been what contributed to it, and history shows that for the most part things usually pendulum back and get better. As you pointed out, DFW won't know when it does (not counting what may or may not occur in the afterlife).