Infinite Crazy

Recently, Jamie Peck over at The Gloss decided to see if she could get away with being topless in New York. It resulted in this picture:

<%image(20120821-topless.jpg|334|259|Sunday in the Park with Boobs)%>

What is most remarkable about this picture is the book: Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace’s masterpiece sort of about the search for a video tape that is so funny people stop doing anything but watching it. Stylistically, it reminds me much of John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. Both of these books seem so off the cuff that they would be easy to hack. Although I find that I can write genre fiction well enough, my sincere attempts to write something in the style of these men have been complete failures—and I have a plot that I think works (more Infinite Jest than Confederacy). I think it comes down to the old line, “I can’t be smart all of the time.” These guys were smart, creative, learned—all the time. And crazy.

It bothers me that both Wallace and Toole killed themselves. In Toole’s case, there seems to have been serious mental dysfunction. I don’t know what to say about it other than that it is sad. Wallace’s case more disturbs me. I think that some people take baby steps—inching ever closer to annihilating themselves. The brilliance of Wallace and Toole could indicate that the rest of us are safe. But I haven’t found that my own mediocrity makes me any more stable.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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