Saturday, September 20, 2008

FEATURE No 11 - David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace was a writer I've never heard of until his suicide last week at the comparatively young age of 46. This weekend there was a feature article in the Guardian's Review section. It was edited down from a public talk he gave in the US. I was struck by his powers of observation, self-awareness and kind hearted perceptiveness about the contemporary state of the human condition. I'm now really interested to read more by him. It's easy with hindsight to read something prescient into this talk, but there is a bagkground mood permeating its erudition, of a great amount of personal soul searching.

Here's two paragraphs from the article.

"If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important - if you want to operate on your default setting
(that we think of ourselves as at the centre of the universe) - then you, like me, will not consider possibilities that aren't pointless and annoying. But, if you've really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars - compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of things. Not that that mystical stuffs necessarily true: the only thing that's capital-T-True is that you get to decide how you're going to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship.

Because here's something else that's true. in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship ... is that pretty much everything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things-then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you....Worship power-you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, been seen as smart-you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out."

from an article published in The Guardian 20/09/08

No comments: