Sunday, September 14, 2008

The agonies of self-consciousness

Since my last two posts dealt with
1) a play by Itamar Moses
2) Dave Eggers being clever and self-conscious and doing gimmicky things like interviewing himself,
I thought I'd link to something that combines the two subjects: Itamar Moses interviews himself in Eggers-esque style. Extremely hilarious--especially because I feel that some of the playwriterly neuroses ring all too true.

And then, since it's today and I'm discussing neurotic, self-conscious, big-thinking, structurally-clever writers, it would be churlish of me not to say an encomium for David Foster Wallace, wouldn't it? I've never actually read any of his work, but it has been recommended to me by several very smart people (including, oddly enough, Itamar Moses). Reading the heartfelt tributes posted online today make me even more sure I'd appreciate Wallace's work, and sadder that the world lost such a writer. Anyone whose work "acknowledge[s] the agonies of self-consciousness and the 'difference between the size and speed of everything that flashes through you and the tiny inadequate bit of it all you can ever let anyone know'" (as Laura Miller writes in Salon) sounds like a writer I need to check out. And having just reread AHWOSG, I feel especially sad for Dave Eggers--knowing that he is once more faced with the far-too-early death of a talented friend.

Writers like Eggers and Wallace have been derided as "hysterical realists"--criticized for loading their books with too much of everything, too much arcana and energy and fury. But for some of us, our brains actually work this way, straining to see the connections between everything. And when we perceive these connections, it can be comforting, or it can be disturbing and eerie, because it feels like the world is collapsing in on itself and everything in it drawing closer together, as into the crushing depths of a black hole. Yes, it can be too much. Too much indeed.

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