This piece was originally written a couple weeks after David Foster Wallace's (DFWs) suicide, Sept. 12, 2008. I lived less than twenty minutes south of where DFW taught at the Claremont Colleges the last half decade or so of his life. I often considered the dreamy idea of either just showing up at one of his classes, or calling his department and seeing if I could get through to him, not to be a worshipful lunatic fan looking to him as some messiah, but simply to ask him if he wanted to go hiking. In the mountains I know like the back of my hand literally just behind and to the north of his back yard. I thought a question like that might disarm him, and would allow me to explain to him quickly that I wasn't a stalker or serial killer, but simply loved to hike, and thought he might like to too; and then I'd tell him, once we were on the trail (Icehouse Canyon Trail probably) how the outdoors have been such an escape, a refuge and replenishment for my often overly wrought, too easily discouraged and depressed, stressed out, strung out mind. I may arrive at the trail head a tumult of anxiety and neurotic nerves, but that baggage of negative emotion sheds quick, once my lug-soled boots leave their first treads on that dusty trail. I figured David could use such a sanctuary, where, as John Muir wrote, "cares drop off like autumn leaves," and it would've been my joy to share my mountain sanctuary with him...
Anyway, below is what I wrote in appreciation of him, and also after having recently completed what would become his final (and wonderful!) essay collection, Consider the Lobster, in late Sept., 2008:
In lieu of standard review (supposedly a "review" I know I'll never write again),
Dude, it's just lobsters man, relax.
interspersed within whatever the hell this is (homage? tribute? unconscionable crap?) I’m presently composing now
Why do you care so deeply about lobsters? Don’t you think you maybe, just maybe, you might care a wee bit too much about bottom-dwellers?
are snippets from an imaginary one-sided conversation, a brief and hideous interview, I had with the late David Foster Wallace recently;
Mr. Wallace, if you'll pardon my transgression as I regress to alluding to an earlier famous essay of yours, can’t you suck down some margaritas and just enjoy the damn cruise?
said fantasy monologue acting, I believe, as curious catharsis, channeling my loss -- strangely (inappropriately?) personal,
You tell us lobsters’er basically gigantic insects, that folks on the coast of Maine call ‘em ‘bugs,’ so what are you...I don't see you getting all eloquently loquacious too about the unethical treatment of escargot!
though simultaneously distant, our "relationship" and, I guess, vicarious?, if that’s the right word, which I don't think it is (I mean, I obviously didn’t know David Foster Wallace
I’ll admit I’ve never really considered the lobster like you have, DFW (if I may call use the acronym, DFW, as you're prone to frequently do), and if I’ve ever considered lobsters before buying your book (besides acknowledging that they taste mmm-mmm good, dip ‘em in golden liquid butter, mmm), I’ve considered them disgustingly overgrown, underseawater cockroaches.
even though his writing spoke to me (and even spoke for me when I couldn't put the words to whatever concept or descriptive myself) and untold others about everything and more, as in Moses-and-the-Burning-Bush-Speak, as if he were indeed (not necessarily Yahweh or Allah or Buddha) but my/our dearest most understanding friend) -- into, what?,
Remove their pincers, paint ‘em black – voila! -- you got yourself a ‘roided up sea salted cockroach -- yuck
something “productive?”; nah, what the hell does that mean?-- that’s the sort of disingenuous drivel DFW loathed; or,
I’m just infinitely jesting - ha! get it? - about the lobsters, Mr. Wallace, I admire your enriching, truly educational and edifying, disturbing even, ultra-linguistic meta-analysis of ethics/morality-Maine-Lobster-Festivalish
channeling to maybe expunge the nebulous, hard to mentally grasp and accurately articulate, grief (yes, my own personal grief, even though I never met the man) over DFWs death, (why it’s so painful to me when I didn’t literally know him beyond his books/interviews) out of my head, onto the page,
Forgive my sentimentality, Dave – and what’s so necessarily automatically wrong with being somewhat sentimental like Charles Dickens at times anyway?!
so that my heart can maybe intervene and somehow translate these emotions in-transit through the oblivion between my brain and the page in order to...in order to what?...make sense of it?...
But I’m already remembering you fondly, perhaps even - yes! - sentimentally, despite your assumed omnipresent protestations of hyper-literary-vigilance against said syrupy nostalgia -- and despite what you...how could you, Dave?...what you did.
make sense of the bewildering incomprehensibility of what you did, taking your own beloved life...like eternity, it will never be explained, only hinted at in essays and fictions, because the only person who could possibly explain it to us, you Dave, is dead.
Nevermind, Mr Wallace, I'm obviously confused from so much considering, searching for answers to infinite questions only you'd think to ask, and know how to answer.