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.

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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.


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.”

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