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Crazy genius author (and Pomona professor) David Foster Wallace killed himself on Friday. I want to make a mean joke about a suicide note with lots of footnotes, but the whole thing bothers me a lot. I strongly dislike it when people who are incisively introspective and terrifyingly smart are unable to handle that which they discover.

Date: 2008-09-14 03:57 am (UTC)
lindseykuper: A figure, wearing a pink shirt decorated with a heart, looks upward from between dark shapes that suggest buildings. (Default)
From: [personal profile] lindseykuper
Oh, how awful. I don't know what else to add, except that...no, fuck it. I don't feel much like reading the rest of the Wikipedia article about suicide.

Damn. It's so sad.

Date: 2008-09-14 04:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] steuard.livejournal.com
The first I heard about this was an email from Pomona's President Oxtoby (forwarded to Scripps faculty). The email felt strained somehow: all that it said about his death was the date and that it was tragic, but it made a point of encouraging everyone to respect the family's privacy if they spoke to the media. Only after I looked up the news articles on his death did I hear that it was suicide.

I'm sad to say that I've never read any of his writing. Perhaps I'll need to add Infinite Jest to my list.

Date: 2008-09-14 05:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cpadian.livejournal.com
Oh my god! How terrible... I was just in the middle of loving a supposedly fun thing i'll never do again too...

Date: 2008-09-14 01:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pants-of-doom.livejournal.com
I strongly dislike it when people who are incisively introspective and terrifyingly smart are unable to handle that which they discover.

Was that why he did it? (I'm not turning up anything about a note or other obvious information, though I haven't read his stuff at all.)

Date: 2008-09-14 04:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pmb.livejournal.com
Nothing seems to be forthcoming. It's known that he both had drug problems at one point, and has also been through depression at least once. The prognosis for each of those is pretty bad.

NYTimes now has a hint:

Date: 2008-09-15 02:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pmb.livejournal.com
James Wallace said that last year his son had begun suffering side effects from the drugs and, at a doctor’s suggestion, had gone off the medication in June 2007. The depression returned, however, and no other treatment was successful. The elder Wallaces had seen their son in August, he said.

“He was being very heavily medicated,” he said. “He’d been in the hospital a couple of times over the summer and had undergone electro-convulsive therapy. Everything had been tried, and he just couldn’t stand it anymore.” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/15/books/15wallace.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

So the answer seems to be: severe depression. Fun fact about depression: it's a fatal disease for a double-digit percentage of its sufferers.

Date: 2008-09-14 04:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] istar.livejournal.com
So sad! I haven't read Infinite Jest, but I'm familiar with his work.

Date: 2008-09-14 05:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ouro.livejournal.com
I still expected of him that he would produce a piece of work that would have made Infinite Jest seem like the ritualistic fires-stoking press conference the night before the heavyweight championship fight.

Date: 2008-09-14 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enth.livejournal.com
thank you for putting that perfectly, peter.

Date: 2008-09-17 12:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bookerz.livejournal.com
I agree. I keep waiting for someone to explain it to me and to make it make sense. Because the idea of thinking about it critically myself is simply too horrifying to contemplate.

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