Premium Justice

Legacy: He Insures JUSTICE!

For the past week and for the next five weeks, I am in my company’s training program. I’m in a hotel about 70 miles from home, but it looks and feels like the midwest suburbs. When people complain about suburban sprawl, they complain, knowingly or not, about this place. It’s not that it all doesn’t look nice, I just can’t tell where one strip mall ends and another begins. 200 yard across the parking lot from the AMC 30 cinema, there is another multiplex with 22 additional screens. That’s 52 screens sharing one parking lot. But no one’s showing “Bellflower,” (just for example)?

All of this to say, I recently finished the first draft of a screenplay, so I’m writing a short film as a kindof creative wasabe before jumping into re-writes next week. Taking a page from a combination of current circumstances/goings-on, the short film concerns an insurance adjuster handling claims for damage done by a superhero from the brand new, wildly popular, destined-for-greatness card game “Sentinels of the Multiverse” (I obtained permission for the use of their characters).

Well so last night as I was outlining the story – God-willing, it will be under 15 pages – it occurred that a hero or villain’s insurance policy would have to be different from a regular policy, and I needed to understand before I wrote it what coverages, exclusions, and conditions were present in the policy, so that I don’t have to figure it out during the writing. So, as an exercise, I created some specific, applicable portions of the insurance policy in question, from the Greater Good Insurance Group, a premiere insurance carrier for high-risk, costumed clientele (including [for additional premium] the sidekicks, wards, protégés and the like who may reside with them), and their moral counterparts. Here’s what I’ve got:

Please refer to your Greater Good Insurance Group, Inc.’s  S-27 Heroic-Form Homeowners Insurance Policy  – 09/2008, which states in part:

Section-I – Exclusions

We do not cover the Dwelling, Other Structures – including hideouts, caves, fortresses, lairs, anti-aging chambers, and the like – nor Personal Property, if the damaged items were intended for use in whole or in part for any of the following:

 

#1. Serious Criminal Activities – As stated in the Definitions for this policy, “Serious Criminal Activities” are any criminal activities above a normal Misdemeanor offense or which could be punishable by death.

#2. Overthrow of Government – Any use of covered property, in whole or in part, for the proven purposes of the overthrow of any governmental agency, whether local, state, national, or international – and also including governmental and international peace-keeping or organizational agencies – shall be excluded from all losses under this policy.

#3. World Domination – Any damage to property during the planning, building, scheming, conniving, or any other similar preparation with the provable purpose of – or any direct attempt at – total world domination, takeover, destruction, anarchization, or other similar effort will be excluded under this policy.

For all Exclusions, any loss to covered property NOT being used for the overthrow of government or world domination, damaged as a result of any excluded damage caused to property, will be covered under this policy, unless that property NOT being used for the overthrow of government or world domination in any way necessarily impeded the stoppage of the overthrow of government or world domination (e.g – Damage to personal property in a room – as well as any part of the walls, floor, ceiling, and framing members of the room itself – NOT being used for overthrow of government or world domination, but which shares a wall with a room being used, in whole or in part, for excluded activities or measures, which was necessarily destroyed as the best or only means of access to any property being used, whether in whole or in part, for the overthrow of government or world domination, is also excluded by these policy provisions).

As well, any personal property in any room being used, either in whole or in part, for the overthrow of government or world domination, will be considered to be aiding and abetting the excluded activities or measures, so long as said personal property resides in said room.

Section-II – Personal Liability

We will cover accidental direct physical loss, damage, or harm caused or inflicted by you toward any individual(s) not named on the Declarations Page of this insurance policy and to public or private property – whether residential or commercial.

We will also cover intentional direct physical loss, damage, or reasonable harm caused or inflicted by you toward any individual(s) not named on the Declarations Page of this insurance policy and to public or private property – whether residential or commercial – provided that such person(s) or property posed a legitimate, provable threat – whether latent or operative – to the Greater Good of all Mankind, as outlined in Section-I – Exclusions of this policy.

Cine(ma)laise

I Understand Completely

I got into a debate online this week about whether or not this has been a good year for movies so far. Apparently a lot of people think it’s one of the best in a long time (one guy even said it was the best since 2005, which is just plain not true, since 2007 is far-and-away the best since 1999 [which, itself, is, in many people’s opinions {mine included} the best year in cinema history]). I think it’s been decidedly lackluster, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t liked a fair number of movies. I have. But I haven’t out-and-out loved any movie released in 2011.

Usually by early-mid September, there are five or six that could find themselves in my top ten list at the end of the year. Right now I have…zero. There’s usually one or two summer movies I just have to see again. This year, none. I was underwhelmed by the final “Harry Potter,” and the laundry list of sequels. Even movies I’ve enjoyed, like “Bridesmaids,” and “X-Men: First Class” and “Captain America” – or movies that took me by surprise: “Fast Five,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” – just haven’t compelled me to see them again. Neither did my favorite movie of the year so far, “Super 8.” I really liked it, but there’s been something missing.

And it’s not just the big studio movies. I saw and liked both Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” and Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.” Both films have a lot to offer, and they stand out against the backdrop of the majority of films this year (as does, for that matter – though on a substantially less level – Kevin Smith’s “Red State) simply by virtue of their uniqueness. But neither film inspired the fervent love in me that they seemed to for so many.

Overall, the movies have been mostly fine, fluctuating from decent to mildly impressive, but I can’t think of a time this year when I felt like I was seeing something truly brilliant. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you don’t have to say something no one’s ever said before. What I do require, though (and what I’m going to be writing about as well), is that there be some true storytelling going on that emerges from the characters, not just from someone trying to fit all of the standard pieces into the plot-driven puzzle.

Aside from “Super 8,” which spent lots of time with its characters, the two movies that have come closest for me have been two late-summer sci-fi disease-driven thrillers: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “Contagion.”

Come on, Get Happy

I’m trying to catch up on the stuff I haven’t seen, now. I’m going to go see “The Help,” and “Horrible Bosses,” renting “Win/Win” and “Hanna” and “Certified Copy” and, maybe if I’m feeling like watching something I’m not interested in at all, “Uncle Boonmee…” (as well as the handful of documentaries).

Hammer Time

I do have pretty high hopes for some upcoming films, like “Drive,” “Moneyball,” and “Melancholia,” and as we get into the end of the year, there are more and more movies I’m interested in seeing. Between all of these, it could end up being a very good year at the movies. But at the moment, I can’t do much more than throw up my hands to those who think it’s a banner year. I just don’t see it.

More Than a Feeling

I read this article by David Brooks – “If It Feels Right” – in the New York Times the other day, and it made me wary and then it made me think. Lacking the usual implication of impending apocalypse at the hands of “youngsters”, Brooks pretty calmly suggests that people my age lack any real guiding sense of morality or ethics that goes much beyond doing what feels right at a given moment. The article contains quotation after quotation from my generation, claiming to know as little as possible about as much as possible. I went to college, so the perspective isn’t all that surprising.

It’s true that there are things we simply won’t ever know; and it’s true that admitting you don’t know is better than pretending you do know. But that’s not what this is. My generation, by-and-large, likes to camp out at the openings of the trails past generations spent their lives navigating; only, we couple it with a cynicism that scoffs at effort, unless we know precisely where the path will lead us (and a stupidity to think we deserve to choose what we’ll find at the end).

So there you see my default position: annoyance at my peers. But the article, while not giving them a total pass, significantly relegates the burden of blame to mostly general lack-of-maturity/ lack-of-experience type charges, which, okay I agree that those are true, but then you also have to discuss the growing syndrome of 20-somethings intent on acting like teenagers for longer and longer, and so eventually you still arrive at a place where some responsibility has to be laid at the feet of those who have the ability to grow up, just not the desire (and sometimes maybe not the incentive) to.

Interestingly, the article states that “the study says more about adult America than about youthful America.” Now that could just be interpreted as the classic blame-it-on-the-parents argument; but the more I thought about it, the more I perceived an air of validity and truth to it.

I Think the Sheer Fact of This Movie is Judgment Enough

I just started reading the Book of Judges, which, you may or may not know or care, many scholars believe was written by Samuel, whose mentor, you may or may not know or care, was Eli. And it turns out that Eli’s relationship with his sons contains an interesting parallel with Joshua and Israel. Both Joshua and Eli were incredibly esteemed by their communities for their leadership and guidance. But both also failed to train the generation that followed directly after them, in the ways of the Lord.

Joshua failed to prepare the next generation of Israelites, who, we learn, were not brought up in the knowledge of the Lord or what he did for Israel; Eli had two sons, whom he let basically get away with everything, until they pretty brazenly took the Ark of the Covenant (which essentially contained the Lord’s essence…just read the Bible) into battle – which was forbidden – where they promptly got it stolen before they were both killed. There’s a sad, poignant moment in 1 Samuel, chapter 4, when Eli, old and blind and alone, is sitting along the side of the road, waiting for news from the battle. He is filled with regret for not raising his sons better, and he knows the news isn’t going to be good, and he’s right.

All of this has made me think. I agree that a lot of late 20th Century parenting did a bellyflop of a job when it came to preparing their kids for adulthood, and they may be responsible for creating the seeming allergic reaction to personal responsibility. But the kind of wholesale moral relativism/individualism has just as much to do with a youth culture that saw an opportunity and just ran with it. This is all, as well, to say nothing of the roles innumerable other cultural variables (e.g. 9/11, increasingly techno-driven society, etc…) play in this whole matter.

And yet. I was a little bothered by how one-sided the article was. I kept waiting for them to share some perspectives by responsible young people who are engaged and intelligent and thoughtful, as opposed to merely the lethal combination of opinionated and outspoken. I know that other side exists, because I know them. They have brilliant ideas. They are wickedly funny. They understand technology and how to use it in uniquely creative ways. They hold jobs, they have ambitions, they don’t flinch at monogamy.

But the biggest difference between them actually isn’t probably that they make any fewer mistakes, it’s that they’ve stopped romanticizing their mistakes so unrelentingly damned much.

Waiting in Line

The father ahead of me kept glancing toward the back of the store while Sandy scanned his items. His son stood at the back of the cart looking at the vast number of purchases.  I waited to buy toothpaste, facewash, some cereal (the alternately healthy-sweet Raisin-Bran Crunch and Cinnamon Toast Crunch), a 12-pack of Cherry Coke Zero and a traveling toothbrush holder for the trip to North Carolina tomorrow night for Josh’s wedding. I admit, my supermarket line choices have always been suspect, at best.

I had this issue, too.

The father to the son: “Tell her we have to go. Doesn’t she know that? Tell her we’re already up here paying for things.” This kid who’s maybe 13 whipped out his cell phone to deliver the message. Progress. When I was his age, I’d have had to go searching for my mother through the aisles, inevitably distracted by some basketball cards or the magazines – I remember an affinity for Sports Illustrated for Kids – and by the time I’d returned to the check-out line, my parents would be standing there waiting for me now, my mother having found whatever towels or salad-dressing or unappetizing food I didn’t want to eat that she’d been looking for a minute ago.

The father seemed really impatient, and I felt kindof sorry for the boy, in his black-white-and-red basketball shoes/blue basketball shorts/slightly-different-toned blue LA Clippers t-shirt. He’d clearly dressed himself in as close to an actual basketball uniform as he could. His unfashionable insistence on preserving the mono-chromatic symmetry of short-and-jersey made me feel a particular kinship with him. He was probably frustrated by anything that kept him from playing basketball, but that could be a nostalgic projection, too. The father picked out a three-pack of multi-colored Fruit-of-the-Loom boxer-shorts from the conveyor belt as it inched forward in tiny spurts. “Not these,” he said to Sandy, like she’d sneaked them into the pile. He handed them to the boy. “Go put these back. Just put them…anywhere.” I wondered if he coached the boy’s junior league basketball teams or if he was the kind of no-nonsense father who thought sports were a waste of time. I didn’t see where the boy put the boxers.

Up walked the mother and she immediately started loading the mountain of the store’s filled official red-on-frosted-white plastic bags back into the cart. She looked at me like it had been a really long day already, and it was only about 3:30, which the father announced like they were behind his official-and-implied-but-probably-unstated schedule. “I’m sorry about all this,” she said.

“No, it’s fine.”

“We just had a fire and we lost everything, so.”

“Oh no! You know, I used to work for an insurance company. I used to handle this type of thing all the time.”

“Oh yeah?” she said and kept loading bags, while the father asked whether that was the particular clothes iron they wanted to get or not. The boy had been looking at the trinkets they always have near every checkout, I think he knew he had been relieved of duty now that the mother had come. He came and stood at the side of the cart. “We even had to buy him a new PS3,” she said. “We’ve never bought this much stuff before.” The total was something around $324, and I’m not sure if they bought the iron, which the father said was either about $49 or else $79, I don’t remember.

“How’d it start?” I asked.

“We don’t know,” the mother said, her eyes searching. “The fire department just said it was accidental.”

“Is your insurance company taking care of you?”

“Yeah, they are! They gave us $10,000 today to start. The fire happened yesterday. We’re staying in a hotel, now.”

I’d heard her exact tone so many times before, working for insurance companies. Few situations feel more helpless than a massive fire. It’s a little different when they know the cause. There’s a sense of understanding, that there’s a defined reason for what happened. The fuse-box shorted or the toaster malfunctioned while the children were using it or it was a grease fire or someone left the candles burning near the drapes. Having a reason starts to restore a sense of control over your life, it gives you a picture in your mind of what went wrong and what you can, if nothing else, hope to avoid in the future. I can’t imagine how infuriating not-knowing would be, I’ve just heard it over-the-phone. On April Fool’s Day of 2008, back in Kansas City, I handled a five-level house-fire in a claim that went on for over a year. The cause of the fire was highly suspicious, and the owner kept trying to get us to pay to remodel his whole house, instead of rebuild it. It was a total fucking nightmare of estimates and revisions and multiple contractors and unending contents and storage units and revisions and supplements and finally, when he kept asking for more money and extended deadlines, my supervisor and I made the guy and his contractor come into our office, sit down, and explain to us what he’d done with the money we’d already paid him. It was one of the few times me and that particular supervisor were in complete agreement. He was a nice guy, though.

“Good, I’m glad they’re treating you well,” I said.

The mother smiled and loaded the last of the bags. They conveyor belt slid my things forward, and Sandy scanned them. I haven’t done insurance in almost a year, but tomorrow I have an interview for a full-time position with a company I was a temp for, for eight months last year. I saw the family-of-three in the parking lot, and I almost went over to them to remind them to keep all of their receipts and to be as detailed as they could possibly remember on their contents list. They were almost done loading everything, and the father was hurrying them along and already getting in the car, himself, so I let it go. I hope everything works out for them, and I hope the boy gets to play basketball again sometime soon.

I Play Ultimate Frisbee With This Guy

So a guy I know from Ultimate Frisbee, Steve Shane (we guard each other from time to time, he’s a great guy), just sent me a link to his new music video. I remember him telling me about it a few weeks ago in between games, and I thought, “Oh cool. Someone made a music video, good for them.” Oh how very little I knew.

The song itself is fun and playful with a pleasant, ever-so-slightly country twang to it, but the video itself gives me major concept envy. I loved watching it and going back and forth between thinking how clever it is, how well it tells its story and thinking, how long did that take to plan? It’s pretty staggering. On par, I think, with The Mountain Goats’ video “Woke Up New.”

Now I’ve never heard of the video’s director Behn Fannin, but his website boasts an array of interesting projects, most notably, in my opinion, “…the making of…,” which is a mockumentary about a documentary about the making of that selfsame documentary. Exactly. Looks like he also did a video for Panic At the Disco. He should be making lots and lots of money on very interesting projects.

Check out Steve Shane’s website here and his video below:

The Deck-athalon

I’ve come to expect certain things from my friend and personal trainer, Shawn Richardson. Like walking into the gym, seeing that sly smile creep onto his face just before he says, “Hey Bud-dy. You’re going to hate me today.” We’ve been working out together for over a year, and in that time, it’s evolved from something designed to help me slightly progress in one area or another into a weekly test of all-out endurance, which he basically designs to push us both in vast, unrelenting ways.

And which also, it should be stated, I sometimes fail. A couple weeks ago, he decided we’d go running barefoot on the pavement in 90+ degree heat. It took I’m-going-to-guess one-tenth of a mile before I was yelling, “Fuck! Shit! Ow! Fuck! OW!!! Fuck! Fuck! FUCK!” and then scampered into the grass, because my feet were actually starting to burn (and still hurt the next day). And yet isn’t it odd that somehow I felt like I had messed up or let Shawn down, because in the presence of such bold and unabashed craziness, a sane person will begin to feel like they’re the outsider.

So, anyway, moving on, our most recent workout was what I’ll call “The Deck-athalon.” You start with a deck of cards. Now of course, there are four suites, all with cards ranging from the TWO to the ACE. Each suite has two workouts, one workout for odd-numbered cards, one workout for even-numbered cards, with the JACK representing 11 (odd), QUEEN being 12 (even) and, just to ruin the sequence, KING being 15 (odd). So, that said, here were our exercises:

Pain Does-SO Hurt.

(NOTE: “HSPU” = Hand-Stand Push-Up)

Notice there that an ACE = a one mile run (in shoes). There are four aces in a deck. The workout ends when all cards have been drawn. Except but also, there are two JOKERS. And each JOKER doubles the number of reps from your previous workout, on top of that workout’s card count itself. To wit: If I draw a SEVEN-of-Diamonds, I have to do seven kettle-bell swings (times 2), so fourteen kettle-bell swings. Not bad. So I do those fourteen. Then I draw the next card: JOKER. I double the fourteen and do twenty-eight additional kettle-bell swings, for a total of forty-two. Which means for those thinking ahead, if you were to draw an ACE and run a mile, and then draw a JOKER, it’s another two miles. And then if by some mystical occurrence of cosmic hatred, you draw the second JOKER right after that, it’s another four miles, for a total of seven miles, plus three more ACES apart from that (None of which ACE-plus-JOKER stuff happened, it’s worth pointing out, but the fear that it could makes every time you draw a card a nerve-wracking moment). So, then here’s how our cards came out:

Feel the Burn(ing Hated For Shawn).

And now here’s how the workout started:

Jack of Diamonds: 22 Kettle-Bell Swings (11 x 2) (per arm)

Nine of Hearts: 9 Sandbag Lunge-and-Twists (per leg)

Five of Clubs: 5 Dead-Lifts

Ten of Clubs: 10 Single Arm Ring Rows (per arm)

Two of Hearts: 2 Landmine Tosses (in which you have a long barbell with one end butted up against a wall, and the other weighted with a heavy weight; and literally throw the side-with-weight up with one arm, then move to catch it with your other arm, sortof pendulum-esque but not quite) (per arm)

Seven of Hearts: 7 Sandbag Lunge-and-Twists (per leg)

Ace: One-Mile Run (1 of 4)

Eight of Diamonds: 8 Hand-stand Push-ups

King of Clubs: 15 Dead-Lifts (this was terrible)

Queen of Spades: 12 Renegade Rows (in which you do a) pushup, b) right-arm row with a dumbbell, c) pushup, d) left-arm row with a dumbbell [all of which equals exactly only ONE]) Or here, watch this guy:

Six of Hearts: 6 Landmine Tosses (per arm)

Nine of Diamonds: 18 Kettle-Bell Swings (9 x 2) (per arm)

Ten of Hearts: 10 Landmine Tosses (per arm)

Ten of Diamonds: 10 Hand-stand Push-ups

Keep in mind, that’s only 14 cards, meaning (with Jokers), there are 40 more exercises to do after this, including three more miles run and nearly all of the single-arm ring rows. The workout ended with the following sequence, which if you’re feeling like having fun you can reverse-transpose to the cards they were: 12 Hand-stand Push-ups/ 14 Kettle-Bell Swings/ 28 Kettle-Bell Swings/ 15 Sandbag Squat-Jumps/ 10 Kettle-Bell Swings/ One-Mile Run/ 30 Kettle-Bell Swings/ 6 Single-Arm Rows/ 4 Single-Arm Rows/ 12 Landmine Tosses/ 7 Dead-Lifts/ 8 Single-Arm Rows/ 3 Dead-Lifts/ 12 Single-Arm Rows.

The point of this whole spiel being not any kind of look-at-me-I’m-so-great type deal (since for every exercise involving weight, Shawn did a significant amount more weight than I did, and if one were watching the two of us working out, chances are one might unknowingly avert their eyes from the sortof-fit guy as they look upon the super-cut, Greek-statue type Shawn), but more of a progress report. I can do things now, even just going to the gym one day a week, trying to run at least one day, playing Ultimate Frisbee, that I couldn’t even begin to do a year ago. I’m unquestionably stronger now, and I have a better understanding of what I can and can’t do. There are lots of things in both camps, and the whole point of training with someone isn’t to become as strong as they are or to beat them, it’s to see their example, listen to their encouragement, and let them push you to as you start to learn how to push yourself.

A few weeks ago, Shawn and I were working out, and we had finished our, I think, fourth round of exercises. It was kindof the stopping point for the day, but I could tell that, despite my immediate inclinations, I had more in me, so I said, “I know I might regret this, but I could go another round.” The fact that I could say that and that I did are two definitive markers of the progress I’ve made. It’s not as purely visible as a six-pack of abs, but it is a physical, observable difference, which is the whole point of it anyway.

**You can check out Shawn Richardson on his twitter-feed here. He’s pretty dope.

Unfinished Business

“I have a feeling you’re going to read this book like most people read ‘Harry Potter.'” – friend, Meghan Witzke re: me & David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King

Himself

Rarely do such high levels of excitement and sadness meet like this. Because I can’t stop talking about the book to people – and because many of them weren’t aware of the situation – they keep asking, “How did he die?” which keeps catching me off-guard before having to explain that he killed himself. Suicide is different territory to color the normal experience of anticipation.

You read the first page and you want to cry it’s so beautiful. You can’t help but stop every few pages, when the little cup of disbelief spills over again and you can’t believe someone so talented wouldn’t want to keep living and then immediately catch yourself and judge yourself for thinking about life – and much more someone with mental illness’s experience of it – in the simple terms of easy-to-quantify, pros-vs-cons. And then you read a few more pages and get lost in his words again; in how acute his talent was for how to translate specific, minute details of experience into the kinds of sentences that make you go, “Yes! That’s exactly how that feels!” Here, Claude Sylvanshine is on a plane:

Wisps and flashes of uncolored cloud flashed past the window. Above and below were a different story, but there was always something disappointing about clouds when you were inside them; they ceased to be clouds at al. It just got really foggy.

His observations about people were equally deft:

The trick was homing in on which facts were important — Reynolds was a rifle to Sylvanshine’s shotgun.

The book’s editor, Michael Pietsch, provides a note at the beginning of the book, explaining the process of retrieving a 250-page prepared, finished manuscript from Wallace’s home, as well as a large duffel bag and two Trader Joe’s sacks filled with various drafts of chapters, false starts, dead ends, including notes from Wallace about them, which, while providing some insight about the overall scope and vision of the book, did not give any indication as to the order of the pages or chapters. Pietsch writes,

The novel’s central story does not have a clear ending, and the question invariably arises: How unfinished is this novel? How much more might there have been?…Some notes among David’s manuscript pages suggest that he did not intend for the novel to have a plot substantially beyond the chapters here. One note says the novel is “a series of setups for things to happen but nothing ever happens.”…Still another suggests that throughout the novel “something big threatens to happen but doesn’t actually happen.” These lines could support a contention that the novel’s apparent incompleteness is in fact intentional.

He also explains that the entire bulk of pages and notes will eventually be on display to the public at the University of Texas. Think of that: it’s the closest thing you have to a tangible presentation of an author’s writing process. It’s an opportunity not without its conflict, though, as is the whole idea of publishing and reading the book at all. Is this right? Would the writer even want me looking at this? Pietsch understands this feeling, and ends his note this way:

Everyone who worked with David knows well how he resisted letting the world see work that was not refined to his exact standard. But an unfinished novel is what we have, and how can we not look? David, alas, isn’t here to stop us from reading, or to forgive us for wanting to.

All That Remains

It is unavoidably worthy of discussion that a notoriously perfectionistic writer’s final novel is being published first-of-all after his death, and secondly unfinished and incomplete. Because it’s known that Wallace often felt he couldn’t get out of his own way, it seems deeply significant that he didn’t even get to choose the order of chapters he wrote. But is there actually any real significance there? A case could be made that after Infinite Jest, the only way to up the literary ante would be to publish a work in progress as the finished thing (since after all, is any work of art ever complete, or does someone just decide here’s as good a place as any to put it to bed?), but is that true? Is it fair? Or is it just a way of talking around the irony embedded in thick tragedy?

It should go without saying, but maybe among people like me doesn’t, that as interesting as the book and the story around its publishing are, they would be given up in a moment – the book given back unread and us all going back to patiently waiting for it for who knows how long – for the return of its author. And hopefully the true nature of the interest for us is in fact affection for Wallace and his writing and not some sort of elitist rubber-necking. We have the situation we have, created without and then experienced fully by us. And while sadness drapes the proceedings, it is the truth of this world and even yes I will declare a loving God that there can be/have been both beautiful and good things to come out of it all.

The New Yorker published an extensive piece in 2009 called “The Unfinished,” which talked about his life, his work, his death, and the impact on writing and writers he left behind. Recently there was a great article about Karen Green, Wallace’s widow, in which she talks about being furious and trying to move on and make art again and also mentions “watching The Wire box-set for the third time,” which is a detail that just kills me. It’s a great piece. Jonathan Franzen, in his interview in TIME, said he wrote most of his newest novel after Wallace’s death. I’m mentioning written things, yes, because they’re a tangible product. There’s no way to gauge the impact of a person, let alone one with any celebrity, but I know what it feels like to be impacted by another person, as I’m sure you do. You know it by the way you instinctively connect things to them, moments in your life, pieces of inspiration. I know he’s impacted me and will continue to. I know I love his words and how they’ve impacted me as a writer and as a person. I wish he was still alive. A lot of people do. But that doesn’t mean his death can’t/doesn’t/won’t have meaning. And the question of why he couldn’t have just kept having an impact by continuing to live is an unanswerable on this side of things as how different The Pale King would be if he’d finished writing it. It doesn’t nullify meaning, it just makes it harder to see sometimes.

Me Talking About David Foster Wallace, Then Reading From The Pale King (Note: The reading itself starts around 4:55)


It Has Come to This

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