RIP David Foster Wallace. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
I don’t know how to react to this. I still feel like it has to be some fucking awful joke. I feel like this can’t be true. Whatever faith I have in grace and order tells me this shouldn’t be true. My love for DFW is greater than my affection for any other author, and as I write this I am palpably impacted by how feeble a connection this bond may be. His word have literally shaped the way I conceptualize life. I am not being generous when I say that, had I never listened to him, I would be a much more shallow and sad human being. As a graduate student, I teach composition at a major research university, and I have recently centered my courses around the Commencement speech he gave to my graduating class at Kenyon in 2005. On that day he spoke about our ability to control what he refered to as “the default setting,” and to approach the world as a place where each of us are not the only meaningful being in existense. That is to say, that with a little extra effort on each of our parts, we could realize that the people around us have lives that are fully realized and fully separate from us, and that with a little extra effort we could consider the people around us as reacting to their own lives, and not existing only in the form which they affect out own lives.
Which is to say, that even as his suicide this evening affects me painfully and potently, I am trying to concieve of this event in a way that does not anchor around my personal feelings of loss and confusion. I am heartbroken that he will never write another story or essay, and I am also heartbroken that he will not have the opportunity to impact othersÂ with new ideas the same way he has impacted me. But I am also grieved that he felt his life had devolved to the point where he felt the only option was to end his own life. He taught me that I am in control of what I decide is worth thinking about, and I mourn that DFW arrived at a place where he felt he had lost that control. I do not know what he was thinking about in his last moments, but it seems that whatever it was, it did not bring him peace. I can only pray (something I rarely do) that his words demonstrate for many of us a philosophy that guides us in positively evaluating how we lead our own lives.
Thank you for what you have taught me. May you find the peace and clarity you seek.
Te occidere possunt sed te edere non possunt nefas est.