As I continue to come down from last weekend's David Foster Wallace conference, I stumbled onto this Salon piece, reflecting upon Wallace's prescient forewarning regarding the seductive dangers of reality-TV culture, (if 'culture' in this instance is the right term). Like James Incandenza's film, Infinite Jest - a film that entertains its viewers to death - we are rapidly spectating ourselves into a nihilistic conflagration. One might wish to find solace in the fact that Trump's approval rating declines on a nearly daily basis, and that he is now sitting at record low support for any president at this point in their administration. Is this not, we might wonder, evidence that America is growing weary of the Reality-TV President? Yet, we risk missing the forest for the trees if we fail to see that Trump is merely part of a much larger problem - one player in the spectacular carnival of souls that daily constitutes our leisurely milieu. However low his numbers may be, we (and I speak from a first-person perspective) continue to watch. We tune in to find out what's new with the Russia investigation, we wait with bated breath to see which official he will inappropriately fire next, we laugh snarkily at his latest tweets, we cheer on the folks at CNN as they assume the mantra of political satire. We are no less enamored of the spectacle than we were two years ago - spectating ourselves to apocalypse.
A photo of me with two lovely human beings - Charlie and Victoria Harris - at the David Foster Wallace conference this past weekend. Victoria and Charlie were both in the English department at Illinois State University during Wallace's time there. Both were close friends, and Charlie was the person responsible for hiring Wallace to the faculty. I made two new friends, one of whom - Victoria - is a fellow Derrida enthusiast! Just two of the many terrific people I met this weekend!
I'm here at the David Foster Wallace conference in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. It's good to be back in the Midwest! I've heard some really outstanding papers, and met some great people.
Jeffrey Severs gave a wonderful keynote today on DFW as a thinker of immanence, drawing connections between Wallace, Franz Kafka, and Deleuze and Guattari, exploring the significance of doors in Wallace's work. It's been a terrific weekend.