February 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

“Leonard is far and away my least favorite relative, and I have no clue why I call him one night, collect, very late, and give him an involved and scrupulously fair edition of the whole story. We end up arguing. Leonard maintains that I am just like our mother and suffer from an unhappy and basically silly desire to be perfect; I sat that this has nothing constructive to do with anything I’ve said, and furthermore I fail to see what’s so bad about wishing to be perfect, since being perfect would be…well, perfect. Leonard invites me to think about how boring it would be to be perfect. I defer to Leonard’s extensive and hard-earned knowledge about being boring, but do point out that since being boring is an imperfection, it would by definition be impossible for a perfect person to be boring. Leonard says I’ve always enjoyed playing games with words in order to dodge the real meanings of things; this segues with suspicious neatness into my intuitions about the impending death of lexical utterance, and I’m afraid I indulge myself for several minutes before I realize that one of us has severed the connection. I curse Leonard’s pipe, and his wife with a face like the rind of a ham.”

― David Foster Wallace, Girl With Curious Hair

Reading Franzen essays lately has certainly got me thinking more about David Foster Wallace, and more about addiction (though I quote the passage above more for its neatness, its brilliance, than on that topic). My head’s left Franzen space and is considering a third attempt at Infinite Jest, though my copy, irritatingly, is in England.

Read addiction in I J :

“twenty-one other newly detoxed housebreakers, hoods, whores, fired execs, Avon ladies, subway musicians, beer-bloated construction workers, vagrants, indignant car salesmen, bulimic trauma-mamas, bunko artists, mincing pillow-biters, North End hard guys, pimply kids with electric nose-rings, denial-ridden housewives and etc., all jonesing and head-gaming and mokus and grieving and basically whacked out and producing nonstopping output” (24-7-365)

Consider that addiction might not be so far from habit, might not be so far from some of the basic actions we perform daily — just at an extreme. How often we drug ourselves, and really, how endless the variety of “drug”.

Walking down a burnt summer street one early London afternoon I consider maybe we’ve got some kind of responsibility to drug ourselves, to survive ourselves. To exit a little our heads and lessen raw sensation. Thinking along a line of functionality. Work and routine may desensitise you too, sufficiently perhaps.

And then: what are you doing desensitising yourself? Camel head in the fucking sand. What are you doing to make the world a better place? (And how quickly is that last sentiment dismissed as “naive” — and why is that?) What do you care?


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