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objectives become merely goals while projects turn into initiatives: some dfw edits

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Go take a look at this – where someone’s drawn up the edits that between a reading and print publication of a story that seems to be a section of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, soon to be released. Quite a good idea, this, and I can’t wait to sit down and read it closely. Here’s a little bit to get you started:

Oh and here’s a recording of the initial reading… Makes me quite sad to hear, geez. “I assure you that I’m not going to look up but I’m acutely aware that you’re here.”

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 1, 2011 at 11:11 am

10 Responses

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  1. Did you go to that reading Wallace gave in 1998 in MA? Never seen wit and awkwardness work together so well. His brilliance was pretty overwhelming, but you also kind of felt like he needed a hug, or something. And then afterward, apparently, he ditched the professors who wanted to take him out for drinks to play ping pong in the campus center with a bunch of students. All of which is to say, he was entirely himself, or exactly how anyone who’s read him would expect him to be. But, then, why do we all feel like we know how he would be if we met him? Why does Wallace do this to us more than any other contemporary novelist? Guess I’m still mourning more than two years later.


    March 1, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    • Yep – we both saw that. And I agree with all of your characterizations of him that night.

      Would be interesting for your collection to have someone write on this whole identification-with-DFW from a therapeutic (culture) angle. Sort of a weird form of transference, isn’t it?


      March 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm

  2. This was actually pretty much the topic of a chapter I wrote on Wallace for my book, though I didn’t (and probably should’ve) used the term “transference.”

    Sorry for the plug, but apparently now’s the time for it:

    Anyway, it is weird, the transference. When I taught Wallace’s essay, “A Supposedly Fun Thing” last semester, my students, who are generally just way more practical and well-equipped to manage the challenges of everyday life than I am, were like: do you identify with Wallace a lot? To which I replied, I know you’re trying to make fun of me by saying that, but I can’t help but take that as maybe one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received.


    March 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm

  3. Jesus why don’t I have the book yet. Will purchase now!

    Funny thing. Just spent a part of my evening listening (again some of it / first time some of it) to the stuff on that site. And during a cigarette thoughts went like this:

    – Wait, but aren’t you a glutton for attention in a way he wasn’t?

    – But he was!

    – But complexly!

    – But the ping pong thing!

    – But what are you thinking of? The extra seminar you’re doing tomorrow for the grad students because you’re on leave? The one at the upper room of a pub?

    – Yes exactly that! The facebook announcement!

    – But it’s like the ping pong!

    – You need to work, Jesus, and stop with this shit!

    – That’s exactly what DFW would think!

    – That’s exactly the problem – you thinking that that’s what DFW would think!

    It continues, and likely will, through the night. I am continuing to wonder about this issue that you, T, and I – and lots of others – continue to wonder about. I’m going to buy your book now….


    March 2, 2011 at 2:05 am

  4. Relatedly: While I was writing my last post I spent about five to ten minutes trying to think of something to say about how I felt bad to be on the one hand expressing sadness w/r/t Wallace’s suicide, and on the other, trying to plug my book. But then I realized that maybe I didn’t actually really care about the fact that I was doing something self-promoting, I just cared that I was appearing rather blatantly to be promoting myself, and wanted to offer an apology so as to cancel out that appearance, while realizing of course that the apology was itself going to be a somewhat more complicated and cynical form of self-promotion, and then worst of all, a fairly obviously one. And for this reason–the realization of how obvious it would be, what I was doing–I decided not to write an elaborate disclaimer (like the one I’m writing now). To continue with this perverse train of thought, my book contains a couple paragraphs about how the publicity strategy for Infinite Jest eventually came to center around Wallace’s own discomfort with the publicity, which helped of course to build the mystique we all continue to subscribe to (and we’re probably not wrong to do this) of the real vulnerable human being underneath, but also expressed by, all the postmodern gimmicks in and around his books. But let’s also just remember as Wallace sometimes did that you can sort of smash through the various narcissistic doubts and actually do a good, generous, kind thing, like say teach a seminar that you’re not being paid and are not required to do, if you just stop thinking about it.


    March 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm

  5. the publicity strategy for Infinite Jest eventually came to center around Wallace’s own discomfort with the publicity

    Exactly. I’m thinking of writing something, eventually, about advertising and 20th century literature. Both those who were actually Ad Men and Women (two I’m seminaring on tonight, for instance, Ballard and DeLillo) and those who had internalized its demands and structures (Wallace, for instance, clearly) as well as the role that marketing plays in the book market….

    But yeah, we could certainly do this self-reflexivity-cum-marketing-awareness schtick all day and night, couldn’t we?


    March 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm

  6. Oh and amazing how your book ad actually generated a proper web ad in my comments boxes. I should charge you a free drink or two when I’m next in gotham.


    March 2, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    • Wow, amazing that Amazon did that. I bet just clicking that button they stuck in there automatically makes the purchase happen. The links between thinking, writing, advertising, purchasing, and consuming becomes ever tighter, don’t they? Which I guess is what your blog is all about.

      There’s an article you might look at if you do end up working on the novel and advertising, which you may have seen: Constructing the Postwar Art Novel: Paul Bowles, James Laughlin, and the Making of The Sheltering Sky. Evan Brier. In PMLA. About the pub industry and marketing mechanisms and so forth. I remember finding it pretty smart.


      March 2, 2011 at 4:49 pm

      • Ah good lead. This (among other things) is why I still desperately miss the Barrow Street Ale House.

        Long time ago, no?


        March 2, 2011 at 4:58 pm

  7. Yeah, it’s easy to forgot how long ago that was. Maybe if there’s ever an MLA conference in NYC, we’ll all converge and we can make it happen again.


    March 2, 2011 at 6:29 pm

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