David Foster Wallace On the Terror of Silence

Here's a fitting excerpt from David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel The Pale King for the 900th Deep Thoughts With Blogagaard post:

To me, at least in retrospect, the really interesting question is why dullness proves to be such a powerful impediment to attention. Why we recoil from the dull. Maybe it’s because dullness is intrinsically painful; maybe that’s where phrases like ‘deadly dull’ or ‘excruciatingly dull’ come from. But there might be more to it. Maybe dullness is associated with psychic pain because something that’s dull or opaque fails to provide enough stimulation to distract people from some other, deeper type of pain that is always there, if only in an ambient, low-level way, and which most of us spend nearly all our time and energy distracting ourselves from feeling, or at least from feeling directly or with our full attention. Admittedly, the whole thing’s pretty confusing, and hard to talk about abstractly…but surely something must lie behind not just Muzak in dull or tedious places anymore but now actual TV in waiting rooms, supermarkets’ checkouts, airports’ gates, SUVs’ backseats. Walkmen, iPods, BlackBerries, cell phones that attach to your head. This terror of silence with nothing diverting to do. I can’t think anyone really believes that today’s so-called ‘information society’ is just about information. Everyone knows it’s about something else, way down.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave, Congratulations.

It is impressive how your blog is still as fresh and as interesting after 900 posts. I am not sure how long ago, I started reading your blog, but it has been a wonderful long time. (I have finished studying, started working, bought a house, got married and separated in all that time. it wasn't neither a long nor even a remotely happy marriage :) Icing on the cake, has been the fact that I got introduced to DFW thru your blog.

Fantastic choice for the 900th blog, yes, I have often thought of that too, and yes, I think what DFW is very true. We fear to face our minds.

David Oppegaard said...

Wow! Thank you very much. This blog has been a labor of love and craziness, indeed. That is a crazy amount of things to have happen in roughly 7 years.

What gets me about Wallace is that he hung himself in his garage IN FRONT OF HIS DOGS. Heartbreaking and strange. We must fight the Darkness!

Anonymous said...

Matthieu Ricard says "happiness is knowing that we have been able to spend our life actualizing the potential that we all have in us..." maybe, that is why DFW was more unhappy than me. It would be a very sad day, when you can't feel joy with your dog.

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