I, being the last English major on this planet to find out, heard today that David Foster Wallace died. Specifically, he hanged himself. (Why is it hanged and not hung?)Jesus. Aside from an intolerance for suicide, I hate when my beloved pseudo-celebrities die: sorrow has no home. There will be no funeral for my type, no outlet for acceptable grieving.
The relationship of artist to fan is inherently imbalanced. The fan will never conduct the sort of casual conversation with the artist on which the foundations of personal connection are developed. (Artist: "How was your soup?" Fan: "You know, it was good, but I liked the soup at The Foundry better. How was your asparagus?") Because the relationship is, in fact, vaporware, the unspoken Code of Celebrity Grieving permits the expression of sadness for only short periods of time before office co-workers start gossiping about you. (Pet owners have a similar predicament.) The lesser known the celebrity (an English professor? Who?) the shorter the grace period. And yet, there is loss. So we're forced into blogo-, journal-, or email-osphere to communicate our grief.
I want to say this to you, David Foster Wallace: Do you remember when you wrote that essay on language for Harper's? I had to read it like 15 times to understand it. (This was not your fault.) You, self-proclaimed "snoot", took the pedantry right out of grammar. I imagine there are scores (scores!) of kids out there, assigned your works in their English 101 classes exclaiming both, "What?!" and "Cool" at once. (If, now that you're in heaven, you get around to correcting a few of the eulogies written for you, I am certain that this blog entry would be marked to shreds with red-pen corrections. Writing's not my strong suit.)
Did you know that you managed to pull off being completely self-indulgent without being self-indulgent? Your footnotes, citations, and parenthetical asides would, for a lesser writer, be just whiny. Good job.
Girl with Curious Hair is one of my favorite collections, you know. I'm sorry I never got around to swallowing Infinite Jest in its whole. I tried, I really did. I wish I did.
You have more dedicated readers than me, but my gratitude for your influence, for your inspiration to meander, for your organized disorder are no less diminished. I'm sorry you are gone.