Tag Archives: metafiction

Quote of the Day

 

“No wonder we cannot appreciate the really central Kafka joke: that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from the horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.”

David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

David Foster Wallace is one of those towering figures of American literature whose legacy is as profound as his persona remains enigmatic, at least to many of us on the outside.

While he wrote both fiction and non-fiction – and with his non-fiction he wrote the gamut, from tennis and tornadoes to politics and pornography – today he is most widely remembered for his prose fiction, specifically Infinite Jest, which is seen by many as his magnum opus.

Set between an addicts’ halfway house and a tennis academy, Infinite Jest is a modern-day A Confederacy of Dunces, a reality where communists and pinkos and blockhead detectives are no longer the bad guys; it’s the entertainment industry as a whole, the shallow nature of television, and how “irony and ridicule are entertaining and effective, and that, at the same time, they are agents of a great despair and stasis in U.S. culture…”

A man of many interests and proclivities, Wallace has been described as someone who “wanted to progress beyond the irony and the metafiction associated with postmodernism.” Early in his career he was compared to writers such as Thomas Pynchon and John Irving, but the list expanded as the years passed – as did the many authors whose careers he would influence.

According to his father, Wallace suffered from depression for at least two decades. Sadly, another part of Wallace’s life would be compared to that of John Kennedy Toole at the very end, when David Foster Wallace took his own life in 2008. He was 46.

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Go See This Movie

Image result for bear chasing bison

So, funny story.

I went to see a movie earlier today about a bear chasing a burned bison. Then some kids got killed at Yellowstone National Park. Then a self-admitted murderer was set free without as much as a trial. Something about holes being looped together, or loops being holed together…or some such thing. But that wasn’t the funny part.

The funny part came approximately 20 minutes into watching Population Zero, the much-heralded film from producer @TylerLevine and directors @JulianPinder and @Adamlevins, when a grouchy old man a few rows up from me proclaimed (loud enough for everyone in the theatre to hear), “I didn’t pay to come and see a documentary! I want to see a real movie!” His wife (I assume) then fled to the other side of the row (i.e. the burned/shamed bison), while the husband (i.e. the stalking bear) soon followed her lead and took a seat beside her on the far end.

The theatre quickly filled with the smell of urine because the rest of us were busy peeing our pants laughing.

First thing’s first, though: Population Zero is so good and in so many ways that it’s hard to believe it was made on a shoestring budget. The cinematography was breathtaking, the music mesmerizing, the acting spot-on and completely believable, and the storyline compelling, to say the least.

Second thing’s, well, second. Duh! I don’t want to give away too much, but if you believe metafiction works like Don Quixote, Barney’s Version and The New York Trilogy  are not “real” novels – and metacinema works such as A Clockwork Orange, Fight Club and Stranger than Fiction are not “real” films – because their creators warped the whole suspension of disbelief thing, then perhaps Population Zero is not for you.

If, however, you go in open-minded and appreciate real grit through the cinematic lens, then you will be drawn in as slowly as the waters of the Upper Niagara River. Soon enough, without even realizing it, you’ll be sent barreling down the river when you suddenly hit a series of rapids, your heart pounding with anticipation. This all culminates in an ending that is sure to shock/surprise/titillate even the harshest of movie critics when the Falls themselves seem to knock you over the head right out of the blue.

To sum up: (1) Bison and bears make interesting animals to watch chase each other; (2) do not camp in an area of any national park without at least 12 local residents; and (3) Niagara Falls makes a wonderful metaphor for strong-to-quite-strong films.

The end.

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