Listening to a David Foster Wallace interview, something about how the business model works to keep us all children who are encouraged to feed the id, to act on every impulse, every desire, to keep buying—it’s really a kind of slavery, Wallace says. Masquerades as freedom. How the business model works well for the economy, but does not serve the person, the country, the world very well. We know this, or at least some of us know this, but knowing it doesn’t seem to help.
I read the comment section of several interviews—the number of people who feed on ridicule, who taunt anyone who finds Wallace a sympathetic character—these people bother me. I find myself wondering why I have to share the same earth with such people. Not the best in me. Still, I am weary of them, weary of the simplicity in their smugness. But my reaction becomes just another variation of the game. I despise you, you despise me—we find a certain comfort in that pose, but it’s only a pose, a wall made of egg shell.
Houston is flooded. So far only five dead. Only five—which in the scheme of things, but if you are one of the five, know one of the five. How many people die each day. Some old, some so very young, alone or surrounded with those who love—No one really dies, he tells himself. It’s become a mantra. No one really dies—the various ways of seeing it. The person who graduated from Killeen High School one evening in 1964 is no more alive than his grandfather who died two years before. Just memory—which is so unreliable that everything is really just a fiction.
So in a sense, we are already dead, the boy who actually ordered and ate a cheeseburger one afternoon during a snow when the Beatles where playing on the drive-in loudspeaker. The girl sits next to him, her leg touching his. He is breaking up with her, because she was seen kissing another boy on a school bus trip, although he doesn’t want to break up with her, doesn’t care that she kissed another boy, only cares that she is sitting next to him at the moment—but it is expected and the moment carries itself, and years later the two compare notes. Nothing matches.
Then years later the memory morphs into a poem which really isn’t true, though it becomes exactly the way she remembers it.
But then we have the man who would be president claiming he saw thousands and thousands of people celebrating in the New Jersey streets on 9/11—I saw it on TV, he claims. Other people say they saw them too—as if just wanting it to be true, as if the reality of a thing is irrelevant, as if simply wanting it to be true is enough. It isn’t true, the poet mutters. Truth matters. Life matters. Even if getting a handle on it is difficult.
I don’t own a TV, Wallace says. If I owned a TV, I would be watching it all the time.