David Foster Wallace and Sentimentality

What passes for hip cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human, since to be really human […] is probably to be unavoidably sentimental and naïve and goo-prone and generally pathetic.”

I’ve been reading a lot of David Foster Wallace’s works lately and came across an interview (which of course I can’t find right now) where he mentions he’s afraid of sentimentality. I recall the interviewer trying to get him to be more specific about what he meant and the question still kind of hanging in the air. He talks about how in postmodern society—an ironic society—being overtly sweet or sentimental is thought of as cheesy and something to be scoffed at; that the sentimentality has to be veiled in a sort of cynical gauze.

I remember hearing this and wondering why. I immediately thought of my favorite “sentimental” works: Anna Karenina, Brothers Karamazov, East of Eden, Journey to the End of the Night, all of which are pre-postmodern, yet are still classics and don’t shy away from a bit of cheese.

Continue reading “David Foster Wallace and Sentimentality”

Advertisements

Dr. Jordan Peterson and Atheism

Jordan Peterson has started a series of lectures on Psychology and the Bible. There is a moment (link below) that I’m trying to grasp so bare with me as I sort of rack my brain and try to decipher what exactly it is he’s getting at.

https://youtu.be/f-wWBGo6a2w?t=1h48m

Crime and Punishment is the best investigation that I know of of what happens when you take the notion that there’s nothing divine about the individual seriously. Now most of the people I know who are deeply atheistic—and I understand why they’re deeply atheistic—haven’t contended with people like Dostoevsky—not as far as I can tell. Because I don’t see logical flaws in Crime and Punishment; I think he got the psychology exactly right.”

Continue reading “Dr. Jordan Peterson and Atheism”

Is There Life on Mars?

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. I suppose I got caught up in other projects and works and didn’t feel much up for analysis. I do apologize! As per request of r/musictheory, I give you David Bowie’s:

Life on Mars

There were numerous questions about this piece on the music theory subreddit some time ago. “Just what is David doing here?” many wondered. It’s so dreamy! It’s so alien! Yet, so beautiful! Are there any other songs like it?

To which the answer is yes, yes there are. Well, sort of–-at least harmonically. Bowie admitted that he took what was the sheet music to Comme D’habitude, a French song that would later be turned into that Sinatra song, put some lyrics on top of it, lost out to some hack songwriter named Paul Anka, and wrote Life on Mars almost out of spite. I use that phrase lightly, though. I do believe it was less out of spite and more out of “Well, shit, I guess I might as well do something with it and see what I can come up with. Sounds like a good time!”

Here, Bowie explains it a bit better:

Continue reading “Is There Life on Mars?”

A Night Outside

I walked out onto the patio with a glass of wine in my hand. On a bench was a young woman smoking a cigarette. I sat across from her and said hi. We talked for a little bit then she said to me,

“Can you do me a favor?” and I said “Sure.”

She was a lady, after all. If maybe a bit young, unshapely, frizzy hair up in a bun (it was a wet winter)—at least she wasn’t a man.

“Can you get me a glass of wine?” she asked me.

“Oh…Sorry, no. I can’t.”

“Oh…Okay then. It’s just, I started this cigarette, and forgot to get my drink, and–”

“Wait, how old are you?”

“26.”

“Oh! Okay. I though you were, like, sixteen, and you snuck in, and you were trying to get me to buy some shit, and I’m not going off to jail or anything. Who knows these days…”

“Oh! Haha, no, no, not at all…God, thank you! I didn’t know I looked so young. That makes me happy. I just was smoking and now here I am, and I can’t go inside…”

“Alright, well, you got cash? What do you want?”

“Yeah, uhm,” she fumbled through her bag, “here’s five, get me a glass of the house white—it’s exactly five.”

“Alright then.”

I went inside, bought her the wine (the bartender smiled at me, remarking how quick I had finished my drink), and went back outside.

Continue reading “A Night Outside”

The Iceberg Mind

Jeb McKinney sat in the bathtub. His wrinkled, withered body was being washed by his oldest, Sandy. He stared at the granite wall as his daughter lifted his arm, scrubbed, put down his arm, lifted the other, scrubbed, put that one down, too, and continued in this fashion until they were finished.

Sometimes, though, thankfully not this morning, Jeb would get confused, frightened and embarrassed all at once. He couldn’t possibly lash out at his daughter—the thought could never cross the tender man’s mind. He had always been a sweet, considerate soul—Sandy had loved him for this since the day she was born—but in more trying moments he would be brash, boorish and unhinged, flailing about the room, making a fuss and yelling as loud as he could “Why?! Why do I have to bathe, damn it? Just let it be, if I can’t do it myself, there’s no use! I don’t smell anything! To hell with the others who can! I think I smell fine! No, no need to go out if I have to bathe first…To hell with the grocery store, the doctor and the rest!”

Continue reading “The Iceberg Mind”

Eva’s Cam

Eva’s Cam

In a summer Seattle house, early in the afternoon, Eva decides to get up. Her wild brown hair is a sleepy storm on her pillow and her body is sick with a mild hangover. Her night was finished with a bottle of wine and a youtube rant – this time about gender advantages/disadvantages. Her video would hit a few hundred views, her upcoming webcam stream would hit a few thousand views.

She shuffled into the kitchen, waved hi to her roommate and fellow camgirl, Ali, then made herself a pot of coffee, a pan of scrambled eggs and poured herself a cup of water. These and the shower would cure her hangover. She’d be able to work, then. Her glow would come back, her cheeks would lift, her eyes would shine.

Continue reading “Eva’s Cam”

The Road Runner

In the thick of Desert Hills – a redneck, American small town north of Phoenix – I was house sitting for my parents. The dogs were fine other than their usual dog problems of elbow sores and anxiety. I fed them and let them out, then I napped and did it all again.

I had seen The Road Runner restaurant and saloon many times throughout my youth.

It sat on the side of the freeway, in New River – one of the deepest cuts of Phoenix ruralism, second only to Black Canyon City. Something piqued my interest, now that I’m old enough, to finally go and enjoy this cultural monument.

Groggy, I drove through the winding horse-lands of Desert Hills, Continue reading “The Road Runner”