Jun 3, 2009

"For [Ludwig] Wittgenstein, the point of the philosophical “conversation” was to address confusions intrinsic to his reader’s language and way of life. Rather than one 'philosophical method,' he advanced in the Investigations a variety of techniques for addressing various confusions, 'like different therapies.'

"[David Foster] Wallace attempted to enact such a conversation in his art. He would borrow from the Investigations not only themes—solipsism, language, meaning—but also the theoretical bulwark for a literature that was simultaneously challenging and therapeutic in the Wittgensteinian sense. The therapy was necessary and even urgent for a readership which, Wallace believed, had internalized not only postmodernism’s theoretical prejudices but also its involute habits of thought. The millennial subject was addicted to the same pathologies he was desperate to escape; nowhere was this more evident than in the difficulty literary critics had in responding meaningfully to Wallace’s books. What Wallace wanted to 'share' most was a way out. But he would start with his readers, in the middle. The maze of contemporary thinking would have to be dismantled from within."

-- Jon Baskin, on David Foster Wallace's attempts to escape and be a human being.