DFW – more

True, Wallace was a head case, but in the sense that we’re all head cases: encased in our skulls, and sealed off from our fellow humans, we have worlds upon worlds of teeming, unruly sensations, emotions, attitudes, opinions and-that chillingly neutral word-information. “What goes on inside,” Wallace wrote in “Good Old Neon,” is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at a given instant.” The title of Infinite Jest calls to mind the image of Hamlet holding up a skull – that of the jester Yorick, “a fellow of infinite jest” – and Wallace’s literary project was to get something of that infinity within us out where we could see and hear it. This explains his characteristic footnotes and endnotes, his digressions within digressions and his compulsive, exhausting (but never sufficiently exhaustive) piling on of detail. Like the narrator of “Good Old Neon,” he found it “clumsy and laborious . . . to convey even the smallest thing,” and his writing bulged and strained against practical limitations.

This from the surprisingly brilliant piece in Newsweek.

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