Been a slow season for ADVICE, you people. Don’t you need advice about your New Year’s Resolutions and dumping your crappy boyfriend and stuff? I have it for you. I can tell you exactly what you should do! I ALWAYS KNOW.
In terms of resolutions, I’d say it’s pretty indicative of my usual success rate that just the other day I happily, proudly thought of something that I was so excited to make my New Year’s resolution and that I can now no longer remember what that was, and it’s not even the New Year yet. Forgetting what your resolution was before the new year even comes, well, that’s a bit of a pickle, I’d say.
My resolution is to see Django before the year 2013. I better get on that.
Speaking of advice, this comment on a recent Savage Love made me laugh out loud:
“You’re already having SEX. Stop being a weird freak! Shut up.”
Pretty much the ur-response to 90% of Savage Love letters. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth! (or butt)
So, my new haircut and glasses are working for me. I have gotten a couple compliments but one of them was from a stylish and fashionable young man of my acquaintance so I think that counts for like 5 or 6 compliments. Also I have decided to start wearing bright red lipstick. You know what, life’s too short. If your face is bandaid colored then put some stuff on it. We’ll see how it goes. Also I got butt implants.
Feeling pretty good, generally speaking. Reading the DT Max DFW bio. It’s heavy as hell and makes me cry like every fourth page. It’s such a deep pleasure to read about the genesis and creation histories of all these pieces of writing that have meant so much to me. I’ve just gotten to the point where he’s finishing Infinite Jest and some of the letters from his (amazing) editor are making me cry too. Max does such a good job of tracing DFW’s arc from too-clever meta-nerd to overly-sincere communicator, which, as a fan, you experience really profoundly in your reading of his work, for example feeling the difference between his first and second novels is really an emotional gut punch. It’s interesting to see a writer become not just a “better writer,” whatever that means, but also to notice that his whole ethos has changed, his whole idea of what the writer/reader relationship is, his goals, what he wants to get across.
It is almost literally unbelievable to me that the Broom of the System was not only his first novel, but something he wrote for his SENIOR THESIS as an undergrad. At an age when I myself was struggling to grasp the (unbelievably obvious) allegorical undertones of Woman in the Dunes or whatever, he had already somehow perceived, internalized, and then MOVED ON FROM the literary school of thought that defined his time period. What on earth. Not to mention that he double-majored in philosophy and so also wrote what sounds like a pretty sophisticated rebuttal of a philosophical treatise by some guy I’ve never heard of. I need to read that. Can you imagine having him as a student? Every once in awhile you do come across a student who, technically speaking, is probably smarter than you are, in various difficult-to-chart ways. They are immature and stupid and need guidance, but just in terms of pure intellect, there is something awesome residing within them. This has already happened to me a couple of times and I haven’t been teaching that long (or else I am unusually stupid). It’s very interesting to see the combination of really shockingly high levels of intelligence–and not just, like, knowing a lot of stuff, but I mean that they’ve read the highest/hardest level of philosophy and theory and they’ve actually understood it and become passionate about it; that they’re synthesizing information on a plane at least 10 miles above the various planes their classmates are on; that they perceive overarching themes and big giant questions with not only an alacrity but a CREATIVITY–an imagination–that is basically astounding. They’re simply incredible in class discussion but the challenge becomes how to deal with them so that the rest of the class isn’t alienated. They’re discoursing on capitalism and the nature of morality while some of your other students are literally asking you what words mean and turning in papers on Harry Potter. You beg these unusual weirdos to come to office hours so you can “pursue these lines of inquiry” without derailing the entire semester, and sometimes they do, and it’s wonderful. Oh but anyway, to see the way these kids combine such a delightfully advanced intellect with the downy cheek and awkward social skills of youth is pretty touching. This is how I picture a young DFW. So smart. So fucking awkward. I imagine that he baffled his teachers and that when they liked him they liked him with a strange mixture of awe and condescension and worry. He must have seemed so fragile and so put-upon by the shrill shrieking void of this world/life, even then. Bless his heart.
I also appreciate that the bio is not hagiography. First Franzen’s New Yorker story, and now this–we are getting a sort of Speaker-For-The-Dead-esque attempt at honestly illustrating this man’s personality, which was by no means all noble and good. He lied, he dissimulated, he was narcissistic to a fault. He’s weird about women. He’s an egomaniac. He wheedles. He can barely take care of himself. But his intense awareness of/shame about/hyper-articulate dissection of all these flaws means you can’t really be angry at him. This is probably how his girlfriends felt, at least in their kinder moments. Ugh, can you imagine.
I love him so much.
My old man asked me if I had to be in a band that only played one genre of music what would it be and I didn’t even have to think about it: 80s power ballads