July 10, 2009

Jon Baskin on David Foster Wallace

Excellent essay about David Foster Wallace's work and legacy here. Jon Baskin claims in "Death Is Not The End" that "with the benefit of time, it will be recognized that Wallace had less in common with Eggers and Franzen than he did with Dostoevsky and Joyce." Baskin argues that we should read Wallace's work as a series of Wittgensteinian therapies designed specifically to cure us of our addiction, the most fundamental of all our addictions, "to a highly reflexive and indulgent way of thinking." In particular, he seems to suggest, Wallace uses the machinery of post-modern writing and thought as the only way in which to connect with readers weened on this type of literature. "Many people in America already knew that AA worked; Wallace, however, was the first to propose it as a solution to the problem of postmodern thinking. This problem had the structure of addiction, he suggested. That was why it took a sophisticated, difficult novel like Infinite Jest to make the people who tend to read sophisticated, difficult novels think hard about things that were meaningful and true."

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