DAVID FOSTER WALLACE WAS ONCE ASKED “WHAT IS THE GREATEST OBSTACLE FACING YOUNG WRITERS TODAY?” AND HIS ANSWER SURPRISED PEOPLE. PERHAPS THEY WERE EXPECTING SOME DIEGESIS ON THE STATE OF THE BOOK INDUSTRY OR SOMETHING, BUT INSTEAD HE ARGUED THAT THE GREATEST OBSTACLE FOR TALENTED YOUNG WRITERS WAS “THE FEAR;” THE FEAR THAT SOMEHOW SOMEONE WOULD READ WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY AND THEY WOULD NOT FIND IT INTELLIGENT. THE FEAR THAT IT WOULD NOT INSTANTLY RADIATE CHARM AND / OR THE DESIRED EMOTIONAL RESPONSE. THE FEAR THAT THEIR VOICE WOULD NOT BE HEARD OR MADE DISTINCT. THE FEAR THAT THEY WOULD TUNE OUT. THE FEAR THAT THEY WOULD SIMPLY BE REGARDED AS ORDINARY.
AND OF COURSE THIS FEAR ALL LEAD TO A LITANY OF YOUNG WRITERS DELIVERING OSTENTATIOUS PROSE, OVERWROUGHT EMOTION, EXCLAMATORY DICTION, AND A COMPLETE LACK OF BEING PLAINSPOKEN. SURE, THEY COULD GUSSY UP THEIR WRITING WITH VIBRANT MOMENTS AND SPECTACULAR LYRICISM AND YET THERE WASN’T A SINGLE DROP OF CLARITY OR ACTUAL MEANING TO ANY OF IT. THEY OBFUSCATED AND IT NEVER ADDED UP TO ANYTHING (AND FOR ALL OF DFW’S EXTREME VOCAB USE, HIS PROSE WAS REMARKABLY DIRECT AND HELL-BENT ON COMMUNICATING EXACTLY WHAT HE MEANT). AND WHAT THE YOUNG WRITERS ALL FAILED TO REALIZE IS THAT THE WAY YOU BEST CONNECT TO THE READER IS NOT BY CRAFTING THE MOST LYRICAL AND DAZZLING ARRAY OF WORDS, NOT BY BEING UNCLEAR AND HINTING AT YOUR MUDDLED MEANING THROUGH PLEASANT-SOUNDING VAGUERY, BUT BY COMMUNICATING A SEQUENCE OF MEANINGFUL IDEAS IN A WAY THE READER CAN ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND.
“Everything: the minutely detailed history of the future, the archangels’ autobiographies, the faithful catalogue of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogues… the translation of every book in all languages, the interpolations of every book in all books.”
The thirty-three volumes of Jorge Luis Borges’s favorite short stories, including Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam’s, “A Torture by Hope,” Pu Songling’s “The Tiger Guest,” and Charles Hinton’s “A Plane World.”
The best of the Siouxsie gifs I have laying around my computer.
I soooooooo want my hair to look like hers :D
I once said this to Michel Foucault, who was more hostile to Derrida even than I am, and Foucault said that Derrida practiced the method of obscurantisme terroriste (terrorism of obscurantism). We were speaking French. And I said, “What the hell do you mean by that?” And he said, “He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying, that’s the obscurantism part, and then when you criticize him, he can always say, ‘You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.’ That’s the terrorism part.”