Monday, July 25, 2011

Value to Others even though you cannot see it yourself...

My last post was an essay by Maria Bustilos about David Foster Wallace's grappling with the contradiction of being both unbearably smart and unbearably insecure. Why can't the smart part figure out a way around the feeling of being "sundered from yourself"? If you are so smart why can't you either talk yourself out of paralyzing fear or at least convince yourself that it is irrational and overcome it. To somehow break the cycle of being so acutely self conscious that every day is a gauntlet of trying to be un-self conscious. I thought the following excerpt from the essay highlighted the contradiction that Wallace lived - and that we recognize in people who we just want to kind of shake by the lapels to make realize that they have real value to others even though they cannot see it themselves. Or as David Lispky put it in his book about his road trip with Wallace to realize that - "Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself".

Here is the excerpt:

"People often seemed a little flummoxed by Wallace's self-effacing discomfort with "genius." The issue came up again and again with David Lipsky:

David Lipsky: There's still something basically false about your approach here. To some degree. Which is this: that I think you still feel you're smarter than other people. And you're acting like someone—you're acting like someone who's about thirty-one or thirty-two, who's playing in the kid's softball game, and is trying to hold back his power hitting, to check his swing at the plate, more or less.

David Foster Wallace: You mean in the book?

DL: No, I mean in your social persona. And you're someone who's really trying—

DFW: You're a tough room.

DL: You make a point of holding back—there's a point, there's something obvious about you somehow in a gentle way holding back what you're aware of as your intelligence to be with people who are somehow younger or...

DFW: Boy, that would make me a real asshole, wouldn't it?

DL: No it wouldn't: It would make you a reformed person...

DFW: The parts of me that used to think I was different or smarter or whatever, almost made me die.

DL: I understand that.

DFW: And I think it's also like, I think one of the true ways that I've gotten smarter is, I've realized that I'm not that much smarter than other people."

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