David Wallace is becoming funnier and less likable as each page turns. Does he have no idea what novel he’s in the midst of, which he is supposedly writing? Is he aware that this book, this text, this story, this novel is literally haunted – and not only by the ghost of the “real” author behind Wallace’s acne-scar-masked face -? Is he aware that he’s not the only character in this story? Is he aware that his real-life (now-dead) counterpart (and I don’t mean David Francis Wallace) made him into a character of ignorance, pettiness, and unwitting significance in what seems increasingly to be a pretty big fucking deal that we (readers) will likely never fully be able to grasp? Why is he still so bitter – this is twenty years later, mind you – about being falsely accused? I get why it would cause panic and anger and confoundedness in the face of bureaucratic idiocy of a high order at the time, and could keep one shell-shocked for a while thereafter, but surely if any D(F)W is instructing us, it is not this literally quote-unquote author of ours. DFW, on the other hand, keeps letting out these incredible gems, these very David Foster Wallacean gems, like the detail in the two footnotes on page 413 – n5 actually following up as an afterthought to n4. I keep wondering whether any of this stuff is true, which is to say accurately describes the way the IRS worked in the mid-80s. Because if Wallace actually came across the ‘ghost conflation’ somewhere along his research, I can easily imagine that causing his desire to create the David F. Wallace character(s). Making himself into an IRS agent in the mid-80s is one thing, but inserting himself into what may have in fact been a legitimately potential snafu of pretty hilariously serious proportions – that takes grace. But it seems especially interesting to have a character named after himself defending against the false charge that he purposely stole an identity that he, in fact, was unwittingly assigned. I’m not sure DFW was ever charged with being a copy-cat or an impostor by critics, but I don’t doubt he charged himself thus. I never thought about it before now, but this book has actually already been made into a movie. (That I saw this film first not more than a month after I first read any of David Foster Wallace’s work is, I guess, felicitous for me.)
But what I also really want to do is continue ac’s interrogation from last week. The incident itself is not immediately relevant and so can be recounted quite fast (416), rather than, say, not at all recounted. But it’s hard, because DFW/Pietsch keeps giving us more. Who, in fact, is the “Dave” in §43? (Also, when is he?) Is §44 the reason for, e.g., Lingan’s assertion re value system? Additionally, is this chapter not the clear indication that TPK finds the belief that the world of men as it exists today is a bureaucracy (437) is itself a great heaping problem – partly true, unfortunately, but not true enough to internalize and accept as given without further trouble – and that the solution to such a problem, i.e. the solution to a problem the problem of which is its framing something else to be the problem and thus demanding a solution that turns out to be beside the point, is the dissolution of seeing it as the primary problem in need of solving in the first place; which means, in simpler terms, that if seeing the world as a bureaucracy presents a problem, we can say that the solution is, as in §44, to figure out how to succeed in said bureaucracy, or we can say that the solution is, as in my worldview, to figure out how not to see the world as a bureaucracy in which to succeed. Maybe DFW is, through this interesting little voice, just being literal and serious and direct. Or maybe he’s hitting that peculiar tone of irony he tends to often hit, in which he says something the content and the expression of which are both true, but not true in some kind of universal or complete sense, but only as in accurately laying out how the world seems to work to the people living in it – which isn’t, when it comes to living and learning how to live, even half the battle.
And poor Toni Ware.