Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wallace and the Tyranny of Irony

I so wish that David Foster Wallace had stuck around a bit longer. What a waste of a fantastically perceptive mind.

I know that the tyranny of irony was getting him down. I don't think he understood that the age of irony was coming to a close.

We're not going to have time for irony when energy becomes expensive. We're going to be too busy working, and hopefully working together, in earnest, to be looking for snide little ways to put each other down. When we say something, it’s going to be what we mean, because we won’t have time for anything else. Good manners and well-defined roles will come back into style when, after a hard day in the fields, we want to settle down to good food and pleasant conversation. If we manage the transition without killing each other, life is going to start to seem very hokey by 20th century standards. And there’s lots of ways in which that could be a good thing.

But maybe that was just it. DFW was invested in the age of irony, as much as he lamented it. He excelled at it, even as his characters longed for stability and meaning. The ironic age was the only age he knew.  It may have been too much for him, to watch it start to crumble in 2008.

Or maybe he was just really, really depressed.

Damn, but I bet he’d have some interesting things to say about the next few years.

1 comment:

  1. How strangely curious that we were both - apparently - writing about Wallace at the same time.
    "The Pale King", his unfinished novel is - last I heard - supposed to be released on 4/15.