Thursday, January 13, 2011

More on DFW

The truth is reading David Foster Wallace has always been a bit beyond my ability. I struggle for every moment of comprehension. I stumbled on Everything and More years ago and thought maybe DFW could guide me through the math. I've made several attempts to read the book. I fail.
I got Fate, Time and Language for Christmas and opened it with the combination of delight and dread I always feel. I had no idea that philosophers used a language so similar to math. Once again I am struggling. Why do I try? Because there is something so compelling. So lucid.
DFW thought the first line of Tractatus was the most beautiful line in western lit. And now I am struggling to read it as well.
The news is still full of falling birds and floods and bad faith. My desire to claw out of the corner of frustration, rage and fear I painted myself into is troubled a bit. If I trust anything I trust lucidity. Love is well intentioned. Faith is a flame in the wind. Lucidity calms me.
So I struggle on.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


I wrote yesterday's post before the news from Arizona. I was trying to describe the balancing act I find myself in when absorbing news and my desire to be less miserable. I noted my use of detachment. And then the news came in and I was shocked. But I quickly moved on to ... I don't even know what. It was much later after hours of news that I started to internalize the event.
Mom and I recently watched Milk. She didn't remember what went on and wanted to see it. I do remember the events and had seen the movie but was still moved to tears through most of it. Public officials being shot feels too normal to me. The assassinations in the sixties were more shocking. I remember each one. At some point I developed a sense of inevitability. It's not OK. It's not OK to accept acts of madness.
It's not really acceptance.
It's a kind of resignation.
Not OK.
Conversations on Facebook, Twitter and the news have been fraught. The right trying to emphasize that this was the act of a madman and the politics don't matter. The left pointing at the rhetoric of the right.
The second amendment is what it is. I can't call on the constitution to support the rights I want and ignore the ones I think I are stupid. But the constitution was never meant to be a stagnant document. I don't like guns. I'd like them all to go away. But I know that isn't going to happen any time soon. And it is true that this was an act of madness.
I think it should be ridiculously difficult to get a gun.
Years ago I saw a movie in which the bad guy was so odious and relentlessly bad that when the good guy shot him it felt like victory. And the good guy shot the bad guy multiple times. More times than necessary and each time he fired it felt like victory. I don't like that feeling. And when that feeling is engendered by culture I find it troubling.
But there is that other amendment. Something about the right to speak freely. While I cringe at the target, reload, shooting metaphors I strongly support the rights of people to use them. Are these metaphors akin to shouting fire in a crowded theater? Somewhat. None of this is simple.
There probably are times when shooting is the most expedient solution.
I might be guilty of moral relativism but I don't see solid footing. I see a moment of evolution. We do need to lean toward civility and away from reckless rhetoric. We also need to hear each other.
Loss triggers rage, grief, frustration, confusion. his morning I noticed how many of the dead were senior citizens. And, of course, the nine year old girl. Rage, grief, frustration, confusion.
Deep breath.