Friday, May 12, 2017

David Foster Wallace on Irony


  1. I don’t understand the logic behind the “grand narratives of modernism” listed at 8:33 min. At least two of them have nothing to do with “modernism”: monotheism goes back to Judaism and has as its most prominent representatives Christianity and Islam, both 2000 and 1500 years old, respectively. “The triumph of good over evil” is even more ancient. This is perhaps the oldest narrative of them all - it is “modern” only in the sense that it is a continuing issue, now as in the first half of the 20th century. Compared to these two, all the others appear as mere footnotes of history. - Otherwise, I agree with this (and Wallace’s) view of postmodernism, though I cannot stand Wallace’s writing - it doesn’t seem as if he took his own advice to heart when compared with, for example, an author like John Gardner who saw the problem (“Moral Fiction”) and made the (true, not Lyotard's fake) “grand narratives” the backbone of his writing.

    1. You just inspired me to actually give Gardner's books a try. For some reason I could never get on board with him as an actual fiction writer. How strange is that? So I'm off to make a couple Amazon purchases. Thanks!

    2. Hi Shel, I'm glad - so we read Gardner together, in a way: I have just picked up "Mickelsson's Ghosts" again. It's a fat, a big book full of miracles, written in the late 70s fever that ruled supreme then (I miss it sometimes but overall I don't have the stomach for it anymore, much like chilis) & this is my 2nd attempt. Gardner is one of the greats, I think. His words make me wonder. A philosophical writer - like Dostoyewsky without the mystery & murder & the religion. Read a few other works by him and always came out of them a slightly better man, perhaps a better writer, certainly more reluctant to brag and boast...I think "Mickelsson's Ghosts" will occupy me for the rest of the summer (I'm fast but I read several books in parallel, so I end up being slow) - also on my list is WALDEN by Thoreau - never read it, and C S Lewis the Screwtape Letters (which I'm reading with my daughter). Anyway, I'm going on here. Let me know what you end picking up by JG. Cheers, mate

    3. I've not read Walden, either. In fact, there's a lot of the great books I've not ready, to be honest. I've been upping my reading in the past few years but it's been a lot of contemporary work. Some greats, but not enough. Also, Bolano's been taking up a lot of my reading. I'm a few days from finishing 2666. My first JG is going to be Grendel.


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