Monday, September 15, 2008

"A fellow of infinite jest..."

Lost amid midwest power blackouts, hurricanes, financial collapse, and political cosmetic debacles is the suicide of writer David Foster Wallace at age 46. Probably best known for his epic mindscramble of a novel Infinite Jest, its title now gets an added twist of irony. Taken from the soliloquy by Hamlet that begins "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his back a thousand times, and now how abhorr'd in my imagination it is!" which proceeds into musings on the ultimate fate of both kings and jesters... and award winning novelists.

As the worst-read English major to ever graduate with a BA, I've not managed more than make a couple futile attempts at "Infinite Jest" myself. As much as I appreciate the intricacies of craftsmanship that writers like Wallace and Thomas Pynchon weave into their work, I simply don't have the attention span to tackle their writings anymore. But I guess I'm enough of an English major to recognize a Hamlet reference now and again.

But you gotta wonder, when an artist of such talent, acclaim and success decides to pack it in, what keeps the rest of us going?


Orixx said...

Success doesn't bring people happiness. People always looking for a pat on the back are never going to be happy, either.
Happiness comes from within. You can have all the material possessions you could ever want, and validation from all the people in the world, and it won't matter if you're broken inside. A lot of people are broken, and believe that this or that will fix it.. then when they gain things, they realize they still don't feel any different.. and it's at that point that they just give up.
It's why the upper middle class and the wealthy have higher suicide rates than people in poverty. They have all that we are taught that we need.. they don't know what else to look for or reach for to feel complete.. and they just give up.