Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A Literature About Nothing (Or, More Than They Would Care To Admit)

The McSweeneyite clique that nurtured David Foster Wallace is slightly less mass-market than Frey and Ellis, but still a hive of bland, wholesome crypto-cons. Dave Eggers, the nucleus of the group, is pretty much the Bono of literature – a sneering, leathery vampire utterly dependent on the plasma of African children to survive. He began his career by dragging his kid-brother (now long-forgotten) around for sympathy. Then, once little Toph was too pubescent to make a good prop, Eggers dumped him for an ex-soulja-boy from Sudan. Who rarely gets mentioned, though, is his older brother William, an equally ghoulish-looking neocon who was once Director of Government Reform at the Koch brothers’ free-market Reason Foundation. He is also a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, an ultra-right Republican think-tank whose other members have included Charles Murray, author of an infamous book (The Bell Curve) arguing that blacks are intellectually inferior to whites.
Kinda puts a damper on Eggers’ goody-goody pretensions, doesn’t it?

"My mind, I know, I can prove, hovers on hummingbird wings. It hovers and it churns. And when it's operating at full thrust, the churning does not stop. The machines do not rest, the systems rarely cool. And while I can forget anything of any importance--this is why people tell me secrets--my mind has an uncanny knack for organization when it comes to pain. Nothing tormenting is ever lost, never even diminished in color or intensity or quality of sound."
Dave Eggers You Shall Know Our Velocity

"I worry about exposing him to bands like Journey, the appreciation of which will surely bring him nothing but the opprobrium of his peers. Though he has often been resistant - children so seldom know what is good for them - I have taught him to appreciate all the groundbreaking musicmakers of our time - Big Country, Haircut 100, Loverboy - and he is lucky for it. His brain is my laboratory, my depository. Into it I can stuff the books I choose, the television shows, the movies, my opinion about elected officials, historical events, neighbors, passersby. He is my twenty-four-hour classroom, my captive audience, forced to ingest everything I deem worthwhile. He is a lucky, lucky boy! And no one can stop me." 
Dave Eggers A Heartbreaking Work Of Yadda Yadda


Greyhoos said...

Re, the Exile article: As can be expected of axe-grinding screeds, it's arguable on a number of points. Particularly, it appears the author actually did read the whole of Infinite Jest; but spent the whole time getting his skivvies in a twist while fine-toothing the details that he missed the overall point of the book completely.

But to his credit, I'd say he pegged Selby very squarely (even if I thought pairing him with DFW was utterly asinine).

W. Kasper said...

That was a bit of a wild tangent, but still amusing. Wasn't he paring him with more with Vollman anyway? And the Christian moralism they share? However, I do kinda like Last Exit To Brooklyn. It's like Pat Robertson's version of Naked Lunch. With women.

Phil Knight said...

I have to say I've avoided all this stuff, all be it largely because I just don't read fiction.

That said, I always find the TED talks creepily fascinating - they're living proof of Dmitry Orlov's observation that it's the smart people who are the most dangerously stupid. It's just smart, privileged guy after smart, privileged guy opining how deeply embedded structural problems can be overcome with "great ideas" and "technology".

W. Kasper said...

Amen to that. These neo-Platonic nitwits will drag us to hell as fast as any Tea Partyer. Feels weird to slag writers who I've only read parts of, but there must be some German word for a critical stance on why you can't go further. I know very intelligent people whose taste I respect who love this stuff, but I just don't get it.

As for 'smart' - I put Jerry and George in there because almost everything McSweeney's-related I've read reminds me of the banal cafe conversations they'd have (without being funny). Finding great significance in ketchup, carpets, other people's speech impediments etc. etc,

Eggers has a Kramer hairstyle too.

JM said...

unpopular opinion time: I liked Heartbreaking work of staggering genius. And Eggers has written a book with his younger brother...

W. Kasper said...

That's not an unpopular opinion - 'Kramer' sold shitloads of that book.

JM said...

Heh. He's got kramer's hair, I'll give you that. I also liked his work on Where the wild things are with spike Jonze. Really.