Tuesday, 16 September 2008

"How to Be an Asshole," by John Ziegler* (x-posted.) (and again.) 1. Use someone’s suicide to repeat cheap talking points: I was neither as surprised, nor as upset by this tragedy as the many in the elite realm of reputable literature seemed to be. 2. Use someone’s suicide to assert your own importance: I have a truly unique perspective on David Foster Wallace’s suicide. 3. Criticize someone for being polite and modest: I found him to be more than a bit eccentric, but certainly nice enough not to be bothered too much by his presence. 4. Claim someone spent: [A]t least two months following my every move before and during the broadcast of my show. 5. Then claim this person: [H]ad intended to write a hit piece on talk radio and use me as the easy and naïve target. 6. Flaunt your ignorance: I am embarrassed to say that I did not even know who David Foster Wallace was and I was too stupid or lazy to bother to simply “Google” him. It was only when the article was finally published that I realized what a “big deal” he was supposed to be. 7. Remind people of it: [A]nyone who attempts to read the 23-page cover story is immediately struck by the use of many boxes off to the side of each page where Wallace shares his parenthetical thoughts/statements to his undisciplined telling of the story. 8. Once you’ve admitted surprise at the foonotes—thereby demonstrating you did no more research after you allowed him access than you did before—speak hard truths about his talent: But I also believe that there is an equally fine line between real genius and just plain weirdness. In my experience, Wallace had very little of the former, so he exaggerated the latter. 9. Glory in the evaluative freedom your ignorance affords you: It is therefore far better to be weird and thought, at worst, to be “too smart for the room,” than to play it straight and be revealed as a “one hit wonder” or even a total fraud. 10. Despite “absolutely no evidence to backup [sic] this assertion,” claim this fraud committed suicide for personal gain: While I have absolutely no evidence to backup this assertion, I also think it is quite possible that he knew that killing himself in his “prime” and before he had been totally exposed as being a mere mortal in the literary realm would cement his status as a “genius” forever. 11. Be a talentless AM radio hack whose name no one will remember tomorrow and write this: David Foster Wallace was an overrated writer in life. His suicide should not be used to elevate him even further beyond what he deserved, in death. 12. Acknowledge this: I know that it is considered bad form, or worse, to speak ill of the newly dead[.] 13. Then do it anyway. *Pardon my French, but sometimes—just sometimes—nothing less will do.

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