That title is quite the mouthful. Here's what it means. A year and a half ago I wrote a post explaining how David Foster Wallace's short story/novella "Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way" was a parody of Barth's "Lost in the Funhouse" in order to describe his philosophy of literature. What I want… Continue reading The Second Section of Purity as Franzen’s “Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way”
This is mostly meant to be a direct continuation of the last post, but there is so much to say about the importance of this short story for understanding Infinite Jest that I needed a full post to do it. I will try to stick to this thesis, but I get so excited about unraveling… Continue reading Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way
I've been reading the biography of David Foster Wallace, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story by D.T. Max, and it reminded me that for years I've been meaning to do a blog post on some of the preparation you can do to have a much better experience reading Infinite Jest. First, I'm not doing… Continue reading Minor Preparation to Get the Most out of Infinite Jest
I recently learned that some Barnes and Noble has an "essay" section. This will be my downfall. I was glancing through it and stumbled upon something that sounded fascinating. If you've been reading this blog for any significant amount of time, then you'll know that influence is a topic that is endlessly fascinating to me.… Continue reading Some Thoughts on Lethem’s The Ecstasy of Influence
I really do plan to get back to some math soon. I thought I'd share an argument that I first learned from the essay "The Literature of Exhaustion" by John Barth. It is something that used to come up all the time when I was an undergrad music major. It usually comes up now in… Continue reading Literature, Originality, Influence, and the Anxiety Thereof
Barth is known for his excessive meta-fictional devices and influence on writers mentioned previously like Pynchon, Wallace, and probably any serious post-modernist.