Saturday, January 30, 2010

Correlation is Causation

Apparently this is old news, but I'm just now learning about this: Wish I'd known sooner.

Friday, January 22, 2010

David Foster Wallace

Have you read that guy? Oh my gosh. He's good. Was good. If you didn't know, he committed suicide in September of 2008, which makes it a little awkward when he's writing about depression and suicide. But he did it so well. And with levity, and it works, it makes you smile, you can't help it.
(And if you think that's not the sort of thing that should make you smile, then you should not read this guy. Because he's one of those people, like Mel Brooks or Trey Parker, who has shown us that anything can be funny. *Anything*. I mean, without these people we would never have laughed at the Holocaust or AIDS or self-annihilation by microwave oven. And that would have been a shame.)

Early last year I read *Infinite Jest* and it changed my life. I said, Yes, this is it, this is brilliant, this is the kind of book I've been looking for my entire life. And then I went on with my life and basically forgot about that hefty novel (it's 1100 pages). Then I recently picked up *Brief Interviews with Hideous Men* and I remembered, Oh yeah, this guy exists, or existed not so long ago, David Foster Wallace, and he was a genius.

In case you're wondering, Brief Interviews is a collection of short stories, and the title comes from these fictional interviews that are kind of evenly spaced throughout the book. You don't know what the questions are, but the interviewees are all misogynists. I know, hilarious, right?

Here's an excerpt, where two graduate students are being interviewed. Their names are K--- and E---, and they are responding to the same question:

K--- 'What does today's woman want. That's the big one.'
E--- 'I agree. It's the big one all right. It's the what-do-you-call...'
K--- 'Or put another way, what do today's women *think* they want versus what do they really deep down *want*.'
E--- 'Or what do they think they're *supposed* to want.'

And you can imagine what two over-educated, theory-soaked misogynists can tell you about what women *really*, *deep down* want.

Anyway, it's a great book, and I recommend it as an intro to DFW if you're not quite up for Infinite Jest. Also, here's a great essay I found about Wallace at The Point Magazine:

[And yes, I'm one of those people who uses the words "genius" and "brilliant" a bit lightly. Which is one way to divide the world. Those who do and those who don't. The way you might categorize carbonated beverage fans as Coke-lovers or Pepsi-lovers; taxonomical biologists as lumpers or splitters; or physicists as strict-Copenhagen-ers or non-strict-Copenhagen-ers.]

The Post Where Sub-sub Lightens Up

I've been thinking that maybe I should start using this blog more like a blog. In fact, I somehow feel like I owe it to people to make it a bit bloggy-er, if they've gone to all the trouble of clicking into this particular corner of the virtual cosmos, with the expectation that they will find something informal and personal and confessional and all. So I'm thinking that this is what I owe, and really I've been keeping myself to myself very selfishly. The thing I realized (I had an epiphany) is that I'm very special. Like one in six and a half billion, a unique snowflake, and whatever else is unique like that, like a crooked branch on a gnarly tree, or a constellation of freckles on a pale lower back, etc.. And what I need to do is spend loads of time expressing myself in the most idiosyncratic fashion I can muster, with confidence that I'll find this all extremely rewarding.

So I will post more. I will give my opinion and do my best to keep facts, figures, and numbers (scientific, statistical, monetary, astrological) out of it. And I will try not to be holier than thou. Because, I'm being painfully honest with everyone including myself, I have posted some very serious and preachy stuff on this blog. Back to the epiphany: I've been taking myself too seriously. To be fair, no one else was, so I felt that if anyone was going to take me seriously it had to be me. But life is short (the epiphany), and it's better when I'm not so serious. If I'm going to be serious again, I'll warn you beforehand. But I'll try not to do it.

What will this blog be about, now? Well, mostly about what I've been reading. Probably. Or movies and music, that sort of stuff. So, here we draw a line in the Sub-sub space, below this line we do not venture, unless we are curious about how serious and preachy I used to be. But don't bring it up again. Please.