A typed note that Wallace left in his papers laid out the novel’s idea: “Bliss—a-second-by-second joy and gratitude at the gift of being alive, conscious—lies on the other side of crushing, crushing boredom. Pay close attention to the most tedious thing you can find (Tax Returns, Televised Golf) and, in waves, a boredom like you’ve never known will wash over you and just about kill you. Ride these out, and it’s like stepping from black and white into color. Like water after days in the desert. Instant bliss in every atom.”(Wanna know why Buddhists meditate? There’s something about it in that paragraph.)
Kurt Cobain’s autodemapping haunted me at a young and tender age. David Foster Wallace’s haunts me now at an age some people are still insisting is young and feels no less tender. The haunting starts here: I want to know why. Max’s article reveals that Wallace experienced firsthand the crushing truth that knowing the happiness gameplan even backwards and forwards is no guarantee you can put said gameplan into play—a different thing entirely, and very difficult besides; and moreover, that knowing the gameplan even backwards and forwards is no guarantee you can successfully write about said gameplan—another different thing entirely, again very difficult besides, and perhaps impossible, we have to imagine, if you set your own bar as high as DFW.
And (but?) so Max has brought me some closure, and I am grateful, but it is only page 700 or so in Infinite Jest I’m creeping up on now. The haunting continues.