Reviewing the notes taken during a second visit to the David Foster Wallace Archive at UT Austin in 2015, as I prepare for a fourth visit to The Harry Ransom Center.
An eerie finding: Wallace’s handwritten notes in the margins of Morris Berman’s Coming to Our Senses point to the logic that suggests, as Herbert Marcuse does, that intellectualism is the antithesis of fascism. And to back this up, Berman’s book cites the amount of PhDs amongst the Nazi hierarchy. Who knew?
Postgraduate English: A Journal and Forum for Postgraduates in English
Durham University’s Postgraduate English is a professionally reviewed journal for postgraduate students of English. We have been publishing postgraduate research biannually since the year 2000. It is published on Open Journal Systems, so all submissions are indexed and locatable through scholarly and library search engines.
We publish full-length scholarly articles on all areas of English literature and related disciplines, peer-reviewed by our editorial board of established academics, and book reviews.
In addition, we also invite reflections on postgraduate teaching and academic careers. They can be added to the Forum section on a related website, including interviews with academics, in which recently appointed academics discuss how they made the transition from Postgraduate to paid academic, and teaching tips and anecdotes. We are also happy to publish details of conferences or colloquia aimed at postgraduates.
No 32 (2016): Spring
Table of Contents
The end of March marks the beginning of another period of research at the Harry Ransom Center, Austin, working on the David Foster Wallace archive. As the research becomes more focused, the archive materials are whittled down to the stuff that’s really important in terms of relevance to my thesis. What this means is that with each visit, the frantic searching that went on during the very first visit becomes calmer, more structured, which is all good and well as far as the PhD goes, but something’s been lost along the way.
James Joyce, allegedly (but that’s not what’s been lost):
For example, the delight and surprise in finding unexpected bits and pieces seems is likely to occur less. Like pulling out a notebook with FBI evidence tape across its covers, leaving me wondering as to the authenticity of the tape (quite naive like that) and even entering into an email discussion with someone who had requested that the FBI release all data it held on Wallace in the interests of full public disclosure (or something like that). Anyhoo, is something like that ever going to pique my interest again, I wonder?
From my last: “[…] on the forty-five minute bicycle ride home from the train station, the latter part of which involves riding down a few hundred yards of pitch-black, serial-killer kind of country lane.”
Here is said image:
After listening to one of the Infinite Jest @20 book club’s participants disclose that she cannot now brush her teeth without thinking of Infinite Jest‘s Don Gately, I am minded of an association of my own. Riding the final leg of the journey home down this particular path, in the dark, consistently evokes a childhood memory. As a group of 6/7 year olds my friends and I were fascinated with/horrified by tales of the Red Brick Wall – a wall made of red brick that had a path running by it and which surrounded private land next to a heavily forested area (all very secluded and quiet back in the day). During a session of who could tell the scariest story, someone came up with one about the Red Brick Wall. The wall had a small wooden door that was always locked. The tale goes that one night a couple drove their car down the path, it was raining and all that, and the car broke down unexpectedly, close by the door in the wall. The driver got out and thought of knocking on the door and maybe getting some help. It all goes quiet for a time and the passenger gets nervous/anxious about what has happened to the driver. Suddenly, the driver’s head lands upon the bonnet of the car, attached by rope, and at the end of the rope is a stick, and holding the stick is a crazed, disfigured mad-person who intends to do a similar thing to the passenger.
And on the Emma Watson front, still working through the bell hooks book – nothing creepy there.
A radio interview with David Foster Wallace’s sister, Amy, hears her tell of DFW wearing his hair in a top-knot and being discouraged to do so by his family, sensitively, so as not to hurt his feelings. Amy’s explanation of why DFW should not be wearing his hair in a top-knot was that it’s kind of the thing that little girls do – I’m paraphrasing here – and that the reason the family had to be so sensitive about breaking this news to him was that he had a problem with feeling that he wasn’t ‘masculine’ enough. But DFW was obviously rocking this look at a time when others weren’t – and fair play to him for that. Doing anything that makes you stand out is kind of tough, and wearing a top-knot sometime in the 80s, I’m guessing from Amy’s recollections, must have been a pretty hard look to pull off for a guy from the Mid-West. Fair enough, you might say, but, what of the current surge in top-knot wearing?
The current trend for top-knot wearing is interesting, and controversial. It doesn’t always work, but don’t knock a person for trying. Anyhoo, here are a couple of links to do with men wearing top-knots – although the New York The AWL feature has lots of pictures of ones worn at the back of the head – surely not a top-knot by its very definition (a top-knot should be worn above the occipital bone, and preferably above the recession, IM humble O).
Not that I intended writing a fourth entry today, not that I plan things that way as anyone who reads these pages will know – bursts of stuff all at once and then nothing for weeks (and ever so random in ways that today’s entries attest to). This entry snuck up on me when I read the Five Dials piece commemorating the life and work of David Foster Wallace. The opening by Amy Wallace-Havens is astonishingly beautiful. That’s it, really.
On the subject of David Foster Wallace, today’s treat was coming across four copies of Sabrina, Amherst’s Humor Magazine. The find has little to do with my research but they were still worth a look as the humour is juvenile and silly, in the main, but where would we be without a touch of silliness every now and then? Because I cannot share images from the Wallace collection, here is a public domain image from a 1960 issue.