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. 
In this New York Post piece, John Podhoretz writes, "It might seem bizarre to say that an administration only 23 days old needed a fresh start, but look: if Adele can stop 45 seconds into a live performance at the Grammys and begin again, so too can Donald Trump." 

This has to be a new low in political commentary. What the hell are we becoming? How on earth did this become the new normal? This is what it looks like to defend the indefensible. 

CNN Piece: Fox, Breitbart Focus on Leaks in Flynn Story

Ah, I remember the good old days, when the DNC servers were hacked by Russia with the support and applause of then-candidate Donald Trump, and the 'real story' in that case was the content of the leaks, not the hacking itself. 

Funny how all it takes is winning the election to suddenly change Trump's tune.
This U.S. Uncut piece by Kenneth Lipp reports on comments by Pope Francis on the refugee crisis. Pope Francis notes that one of the most egregious sins in the gospels, against which Jesus preached constantly, is hypocrisy. 

The very essence of the Christian gospel rests, not upon opposing abortion, dictating who can marry whom, rejecting science or reason, or securing property rights for the affluent. The heart of the gospel rests upon the ethical injunction to care for the least of these: "For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me... Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me' Matthew 25: 42-45. 

When we close our hearts and our borders to those who are fleeing oppression and death, warfare and certain destruction, who are simply trying to find some semblance of stability in which to care for themselves and their children... there is no other way to say it - we are refusing that injunction, the defining core of Jesus's teaching. And to profess the name of Christ with the lips, while rejecting this injunction with one's actions (or with a nation's actions), is hypocrisy. 

I don't care what stripe of Christianity one espouses, Pope Francis is indisputably correct. 

In response to Chuck Todd's questions about Trump press secretary Sean Spicer uttering four demonstrable falsehoods in his 'press conference', Kellyanne Conway claimed that Spicer was merely offering 'alternative facts.' 

Nope, you just can't make this stuff up. 

Just stumbled onto this excellent piece by Kerry Walters, my friend, former colleague, and personal hero, who constantly reminds me that the words 'Christian' and 'conservative' are not quite the necessary bedfellows that American politics might lead us to think they are.