9.16.2008

The Depressed Person

Harpers has posted eleven David Foster Wallace essays online, including The Depressed Person (pdf file), which reads a little differently right about now. Here's the opening paragraph:

The depressed person was in terrible and
unceasing emotional pain, and the impossibility
of sharing or articulating this pain was itself
a component of the pain and a contributing
factor in its essential horror.

So it goes.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I've been giving some thought to why I find all this so troubling. At first I thought it was just the 'writer dies, will never write anything else' thing, or maybe the 'writer dies, I'm also a writer' thing, but I think maybe it's more than that.

It seems to me that DFW was, among other things, a person whose project was to look at life in a kind of unfiltered, pull-back-the-drapes kind of way, who was interested in seeing clearly, and deeply, whatever aspects of the world he turned his attention to.

So when someone whose life work is all about seeing the world as clearly, as truthfully, as possible, when that person decides he no longer wants to live ... well, that's more than a little troubling.

Of course DFW could, and probably did, have all sorts of private demons, or even what the medical establishment would call "chemical imbalances" -- because, really, what writer doesn't have these things? And, admittedly, I know him only through his writing, but I've also taught enough writing to believe that the mechanics of a person's writing tend to in significant, meaningful ways map the mechanics of a person's brain, and DFW's writing seemed exacting, and thoughtfully considered, in a way that suggests a person not prone to rash, unconsidered actions. Which, to me at least, makes it harder to write this off as a rash, unconsidered action. Which really just makes it all the more terrible.