Which essay is DFW referring to?
July 24, 2013 10:51 PM Subscribe
In David Foster Wallace's introduction to The Best American Essays 2007, he refers to one of the essays as a "brutal little treat." Is there consensus on which essay he's referring to? Quote inside.
Many [essays] are valuable simply as exhibits of what a ﬁrst-rate artistic mind can make of particular factsets—whether these involve the 17-kHz ring tones of some kids’ cell phones, the language of movement as parsed by dogs, the near-inﬁnity of ways to experience and describe an earthquake, the existential synecdoche of stagefright, or the revelation that most of what you’ve believed and revered turns out to be self-indulgent crap.
That last one’s* of especial value, I think. As exquisite verbal art, yes, but also as a model for what free, informed adulthood might look like in the context of Total Noise: not just the intelligence to discern one’s own error or stupidity, but the humility to address it, absorb it, and move on and out there from, bravely, toward the next revealed error. [. . .]
[. . .]
*You probably know which essay I’m referring to, assuming you’re reading this guest intro last as is SOP. If you’re not, and so don’t, then you have a brutal little treat in store.