Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again" by David Foster Wallace

"A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again" by David Foster Wallace

Seven essays. First one was about peaking in Tennis at age 14. It was okay.

Second one was about TV, written in 1990. I learned some things. To whit:

  • Malignant addiction is defined by two things: an addiction that causes problems in the life of the addicted person, and that purports to solve the very problems it causes. In his essay TV is a malignant addiction. Written before the internet.
  • The success of TV is based on everybody having both highbrow and lowbrow tastes. Everybody's lowbrow tastes are the same, and everybody's highbrow tastes are different, which explains why everybody I know can sing "Hotblooded" by Foreigner, but I'm the only one who knows who David Foster Wallace is. It also explains the "long tail" marketing thing about the internet and kind of predicts its hockey stick shape.
The funny thing about that essay was it quoted extensively an article which seemed (from a future perspective) to be predicting the internet, except that it forgot all about copyright. Like, we're all going to be taking TV shows and recombining them to create something unique... except that then Fox or the comedy network will sue us. DFW seems to have thought the whole thing was BS anyway.

Third one was about some literary theory I managed to avoid remembering, even though I have an English degree. Fortunately it wasn't too long.

Fourth was about a trip to a midwestern state fair. I didn't care that much for it, though it did have some amusing moments.

Fifth was a 60-odd page preview of David Lynch's Lost Highway, which I quite enjoyed. DFW went to the set for a few days, and Lynch's house, and his production company's office. I haven't seen the movie, or most of Twin Peaks, or Firewalk With Me, or anything else since Wild at Heart, which I liked (except for the Diane Ladd lipstick scene, which I found profoundly disturbing).

Sixth was another story about tennis, this time about a player I've never heard of at the Canadian Open. It was funny to me because it talked about Canada stacking the qualifiers with Canadian players, etc. as if the US and every other country doesn't do that.

The last one was what I got the book out for. It's the title piece, and it's about going on a cruise. I got this book out of the library because in the story I'm working on, the characters have to write a "what I did on my summer vacation" essay. One of the characters writes about going on a cruise, and another character accuses her of making it up, because many of the details indicate that she has never been on a cruise. Well, I've never been on a cruise either, so I needed some details to get totally wrong. I'm not plagairizing from DFW; pretty much the opposite. And this essay didn't make me want to go on a cruise, either. In fact, it didn't make me want to be a tourist at all.