Friday, March 20, 2009

DFW follow-up.

DFW follow-up.

You have read D.T. Max's excellent New Yorker piece on David Foster Wallace, haven't you? I actually bought the magazine for the first time in a couple years just to get my hands on that and the snippet of new DFW fiction that accompanied the article. Max answered a couple follow-up questions sent in by readers of his article and one in particular caused a pop to go off in the back of my brain.
Do you think David Foster Wallace’s name will be widely known in a hundred years, or his work studied in schools and colleges? Why?
Rob Curran

This is crystal-ball-gazing at a very high level. Readers seem most interested in ethnic novels in the realistic strain at the moment. But then again the vast shift of creative effort from paper to the Web may render the fact that some good novels were written during our time irrelevant. Wallace and others like him may be the equivalent of traditional classical composers in the twelve-tone era.
This is one reason I actually hope print never dies out completely. Much of DFW's work simply wouldn't be as wondrous on a computer screen. Sure, you could have pop-up footnotes and the like, but there's something so satisfying as physically wrestling with something as dense and solid as Infinite Jest.

I don't want to sound like an old fogey, but some art forms are worth preserving, and while I do see the vast majority of paper moving online in the next couple years, I hope novels like his remain. To dumb it down; Photoshop* will never completely replace painting, and I view this the same way.

I believe that print will not die, but it will remain more as an art form than a commodity.

UPDATE: An old friend of mine who lived in Normal the same time as I did just wrote to me saying, "DFW wrote Infinite Jest in my little house on Fell St. He had the pages of the book pasted up all over the of the walls."

One of my biggest regrets -- if not THE biggest -- is that I never crossed paths with DFW while we were both living in Normal. Since he knew so many of my friends I have no idea HOW that happened ... maybe I should have spent less time at the Gallery?

*This does bring up another interesting point though. A friend of mine who is an incredibly talented photographer put up some shots from a recent vacation and apologized for them not being touched up yet. I thought it was alarming that someone who can take such beautiful photos in-camera would feel the need to apologize for them not being digitally perfect, and it is in that intersection that I feel the art in that format might be under attack.

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