Friday, July 17, 2009


So, one of the things (one of many things) about the writings of Saul Bellow that I really dig on is the fact that all of his characters minutely examine their own lives. They also fly from the particular to the universal quite quickly as well, but they really take to heart Socrates dictum to 'know thyself'. And it's a pretty durn good dictum if I do say so myself.

Apodictical- demonstrably true or logically certain. I've been like a peacock about the fact that DFW has barely stumped me with his big obscure words, and then I started up with Joseph Campbell and was again reminded that I am no wordly peacock.

Rachel Getting Married, written by Jenny Lumet (Sidney's daughter) and directed by the incomparable Jonathan Demme, is rough going for the first long while. Anne Hathaway's Kim is unnerving and obnoxious, and the angle on her and why she is how she is is a little bit much. But this idea of going through a trial. This idea that both in life and in (this, at least) film that if you go through and face bad shit, then the happiness that you might find on the other side is gonna be just that much better. You can't really know happiness unless you've known sadness, kind of thing. The Dostoevskyian saying that happy families are all alike but unhappy ones are unhappy in their own special ways fits here, sort of. This is probably why it was called Rachel Getting Married; so that you would be sort of constantly remembering that there is a pay off on the other side of the bullshit they're all trapped in by Kim's refusal to really confront the situation and her problems.

Obviously, having rich ass Connecticut parents and a way cool sister and soon to be brother-in-law and all their cool ass musician friends around (because let's face it; musicians really are cooler than the rest of us [and not in a hipsterish way but in a laid back way that is just so cool]) makes it that much easier to find happiness on the other side of this trial. So, you go through the uncomfortableness and you come out on the other end at one of the awesomest weddings ever committed to film and the kind of wedding I would go for where you have like 8 different bands play over the course of the night and dancing and a group of latin dancers and drummers and conga lines and all the rest. I admit I got a little misty at Rosemary Dewitt's (Rachel's) wedding vows. So, there is a pay off, and the pay off is way more enjoyable than say the wedding in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which had only silly, light-hearted one dimensional problems.

I haven't really been super engaged in the Infinite Summer other than actually reading along and occasionally checking the main posts there, but I have noticed some slight vitiriol aimed at Foster Wallace about his being showy or excessively verbose or stylistic in Infinite Jest. Mostly this seems to be related to the Wardine/yrstruly stuff, which is a little weirdly written for sure. The other two most common ideas that reoccur from the other side w/r/t Wallace enthusiasts are that you should trust Wallace and that, in the first reading, you should let his words wash over you. These two are kinda' related in that you have to trust an author to let go with them and not maintain an intellectual distance so that you don't get trapped in some whirlpool of bad writing or emotional dishonesty or whatnot. And I think the yrstruly stuff along with all the other weirdness, sci-fi, and smartness of Wallace's writing seem to me to be imminently trustworthy. While there is this recursive, post-modern, meta-ness to the whole thing and ultimately that may mean that the end of the book doesn't give us some neat, clean 'well, that's all cleared up' feeling, there is such warmth and intelligence in the work that if you are present in the moment of reading and not totally warped on 'figuring it all out' and let it wash over you, let the rhythms of his words take you along, when I do all that, I find that it's a pretty good book thru and thru and that there is brilliant insight at every turn. Although admittedly, I actually like verbosity. Henry James is a guy I can get down with. And if there ever was a writer that was a show off about how smart he was, it was James.

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