The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home News by Category Critical Analysis Revisiting All Things Shining

Revisiting All Things Shining

Update: Great comment thread for this one. See futher down for two new links originating from the comments.

This post is completely motivated by the comment Terrence Blake added to an old news update about the Wallace chapter in All Things Shining Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age (2011). I recall reading criticisms that the chapter was a misreading (my words) of Wallace so it's nice to have some critical discussion around this issue.

Terrence posted three links to clarify just why Dreyfus and Kelly were so off the mark and I've reproduced the comment in full below. I love how the third link refers to the recent Quack this Way interview as evidence to counter the take on Wallace (it's worth reading).

Over to Terrence Blake:

All Things Shining is a great book in many ways, but it gets DFW totally wrong. I have tried to discuss its chapter on DFW productively here, DAVID FOSTER WALLACE (1): individuation beyond the individual.

Adam S. Miller takes a similar view here, All Things Shining: Maps on Fire but he takes a very critical view not just of the chapter on Wallace but of the whole project of the book.

I try to reconcile both our views here, GRACE, SHINING, AND INDIVIDUATION: Adam Miller, Hubert Dreyfus, and Sean Kelly on David Foster Wallace.

---

New Additions:


Recent interview with Sean Kelly where he talks about ALL THING SHINING and the projected sequel, to be called The Lofty Sway of the Dark . He mentions Wallace on the sadness of our culture and on the need to cultivate our attention instead of letting it be controlled.

Review of All Things Shining with special reference to their treatment of David Foster Wallace.


(Thanks, Terrence!)

Share
Last Updated on Thursday, 12 December 2013 10:07  

Comments 

 
#1 Terence Blake 2013-12-08 23:34
I think that ALL THINGS SHINING is a deeply flawed book but well worth reading, despite their bad reading of DFW.
It is, like INFINITE JEST, a transitional work, and was meant to be followed by a sequel looking at existentialists from Pascal to Nietzsche and finishing with Dostoyevsky and The Brothers Karamazov, as the existentialisin g of what used to be contained in religion. So I think that their relation to Wallace was more than a little determined by the "anxiety of influence", given his affinities with Dostoyevsky. However they do give great philosophical importance to DFW's essays and novels, and even when they criticise him they are using his values and ideas (often without even realising it).
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
#2 Terence Blake 2013-12-08 23:41
Here is a recent interview with Sean Kelly where he talks about ALL THING SHINING and the projected sequel, to be called "The Lofty Sway of the Dark": http://www.theeditorial.com/essay/2013/11/5/professor-sean-dorrance-kelly. He mentions Wallace on the sadness of our culture and on the need to cultivate our attention instead of letting it be controlled.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
#3 Terence Blake 2013-12-08 23:42
Sean Kelly: ""There’s a chapter in the earlier book about David Foster Wallace and the chapter is intended to be very sympathetic at the same time that it's critical of the story he ends up giving about what the possibility of our salvation might be in these times. He really understood a lot about the challenges in our culture: about the onslaught of entertainment, about the onslaught of distractions, about the way in which we're constantly having to fend off things that are really ultimately not that interesting in order to pay attention to things that are more interesting.

David Foster Wallace called it 'the stomach level sadness' that characterized his generation, and there's a sense in which we have challenges that are sort of organized around the world in such a way that it's making it harder and harder to do the things that we can recognize as worthwhile things".
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
#4 Adam Miller 2013-12-10 09:30
It's nice to see this discussion pop up here.

I am a little hard on Dreyfus and Kelly's general project (though I think it's true that they are especially harsh with Wallace), but I think there's something important to said for the way that both meaning and happiness should - for their own sake - be treated as byproducts, not as fundamental. There's no surer way to sabotage your own happiness, for instance, than to make the pursuit of your own happiness the center of your life. I think the same tends to be true with meaning in general. Meaning and happiness can't be pursued directly.

I just finished two years of work on a book about DFW called "The Gospel According to David Foster Wallace" that tries to explore these same themes in some detail but for general audience.

If there's some interest, I'd be happy to test out some of it here.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
#5 Terence Blake 2013-12-11 18:56
I for one am very interested. Adam S. Miller has written an extraordinary book on Bruno Latour's philosophy that is deep, insightful, comprehensive and very clear. His style both stems from and invites engagement in the work he is discussing. Any work of his on David Foster Wallace is sure to be original, thought-provoking and a delight to read.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
#6 Terence Blake 2013-12-11 21:10
Review of ALL THINGS SHINING with special reference to their treatment of David Foster Wallace: http://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/review-of-all-things-shining-with-special-reference-to-their-treatment-of-david-foster-wallace/
Quote | Report to administrator
 

The Howling Fantods