Brett Easton Ellis V. …David Foster Wallace?
Subtitle, “And why it’s hilariously apt that he’s fighting with a dead man”
Maybe you heard Bret Easton Ellis went on a twitter-rant against David Foster “literally deceased” Wallace. If not, good for you. Let’s go to the park and smell things and kiss. If so, well:
I read a not altogether crappy article in Salon (link to follow) by a gentleman who has edited both authors, and has this to say:
““Infinite Jest” […] sounded the first notes of a quest for an irony-free sincerity that has become a ruling style of David’s generation and the ones that followed.
I find Bret Ellis’ scalding, cynical, brittle, savagely unillusioned worldview curiously refreshing. He is the Loki or Trickster of the literary world (or maybe the Lou Reed), poking sharp sticks in our eyes and daring us to figure out if he could possibly mean that. Deal with it. He’s incorrigible, he’s not a nice boy, he doesn’t care if you become a better person, he is not in any way seeking your approval. Good for him. Some brave college should ask him to do a commencement address.”
Here’s what I think.
Even if Ellis’s antisocial content is insincere, his aggressive insincerity is antisocial, and society is in trouble. Which he wouldn’t notice, since, as a white male, he occupies the single most protected and privileged demographic on the planet. When this self-secure antisocial behavior is cast as toughness or stoicism, I want to puke out my reasoning brain so it can’t flood me with indignant cries of “who are you to even talk about toughness? Who are you to decide what constitutes a joke? Do you think your toughness made you liberal with dark humor, or was it only your relative unfamiliarity with dark experiences?” Darkness is not theoretical, or “conceptual,” to unprotected and marginalized people—and its exploitation doesn’t tickle, it hurts. Did you know that a tickling sensation is the way nerve endings register low-level pain? And maybe what’s low level for a white man isn’t low level for a person who has had actual threats directed at them.
I don’t want to say that Wallace is the antithesis of this, but at least he made an effort, and tried to lend his gifts to compassion. I’m afraid if you want the actual antithesis, you might have to read some Toni Morrison or something. You might have to embrace some affect, learn to feel again, since the more protected you are, the more of life is numbness, and the further you’ll go for just a tickle.
If you want to read the other article: (http://www.salon.com/2012/09/07/i_know_why_bret_easton_ellis_hates_david_foster_wallace/)