there is a site out there, which I discovered a while back, that does something similar to what I try to do but with way bigger, grandiose ambitions: Brain Pickings. If the wikipedia article on the author of the site is to be believed that makes for a life style that sounds utterly frightening. However that may be, it was through her weekly newsletter that I learned about David Foster Wallace. I’m not an avid reader of fiction and had never heard of him but he has a dedicated following. Marjan just brought his magnum opus Infinite Jest from her library, all of its 981 pages plus 97 pages of notes and errata. No idea if it will appeal to me, if its style and subject matter take me in. His commencement address to the 2005 graduating class at Kenyon College that Brain Pickings brought to my attention did. Very much so.
[The video is not the full address]
Brutal powerful truth combined with a very desperate sounding exhortation about personal choice. His novel is described as the defining one for the American 90s. This obsession with choice would certainly fit into that. What struck me when listening to the speech was that he mesmerizes despite my aversion against this quintessentially positive psychology outlook.
Then I learn he took his own life.
Plenty before me have connected this speech to his suicide. Nothing original here. Apart from me not knowing anything about David Foster Wallace. And still being mesmerized, and then shocked. So it’s certainly not his work in general. It is very specifically about this speech. Which is eerie, for want of more worrisome alternatives.