martes, 16 de septiembre de 2008

Firma digital invitada: Javier García Rodríguez

A modo de homenaje, ya que Javier García Rodríguez es tanto o más David-Foster-Wallacista que yo, publico este texto que Javier incluyó en TURIA, nº 84, noviembre 2007-febrero 2008, pp. 411-413, bajo el título "Wallace se divierte". Espero que os guste o que os traiga, como a mí, buenos recuerdos.



Hablemos de langostas[1]

Javier García Rodríguez
Universidad de Valladolid

Ninguna lectura me ha exigido más esfuerzo interpretativo que este Hablemos de langostas de David Foster Wallace. Hagan la prueba de tratar de explicarle a su hija de cuatro años quién es el niño que aparece, disfrazado de langosta de plexiglás rojo, en su cubierta; intenten responder a la pregunta de quién ha escrito el libro (“Un señor que no conocemos”, respondí yo, y creo que era cierto); imaginen razones para convencerla de que no se puede pintar en él (o de que sí se puede, quién sabe); pongan en marcha toda su capacidad para contestar a la inocente consulta de qué dice ese libro; responda que es sobre literatura. Después, no se relaje: ella ha preguntado “Qué es literatura”. Llévela al parque.

Literatura es lo que hace Wallace aunque en ocasiones sea agotadora o irritante la superabundancia de desarrollos y de informaciones (la mirada constantemente oblicua, la digresión ingenua, el detalle insignificante hecho nudo). Literatura, aunque la mirada pretendidamente irónica devenga condescendiente. Literatura, porque la digresión ingenua es un hilo más de la maraña narrativa wallaceana. Literatura, porque el detalle no es adorno, sino tesela. Hay una faceta deslenguada y un poco punk en el ensayista David Foster Wallace: es la que le permite escribir crónicas, reportajes, reseñas y sesudos textos académicos transmutado en una mezcla imposible de Chomsky, Bart Simpson y un redactor terrorista del Reader’s Digest. Dadme un asunto y moveré el mundo, parece exclamar el posgrunge narrador y profesor universitario (entre repelente empollón y plasta sabelotodo), que, por lo que parece, ha decidido no renunciar a convertirse en un Pepito Grillo del Medio Oeste pasado por la túrmix de lo trasmoderno/posmoderno y del afterpop pangeico en las playas californianas. Las informaciones y los argumentos van desarrollándose en Hablemos de langostas en el falso objetivismo de la erudición académica (como en “La autoridad y el uso del inglés americano”, donde Wallace despliega toda una batería de tesis, antítesis, análisis, datos, verborrea y jerga universitaria, pero incardinándolo en una narración secundaria –subterránea- de carácter autobiográfico); y también en el reportaje/crónica en el que Wallace es un maestro, como había demostrado en Algo supuestamente divertido que nunca volveré a hacer: si allí destacaban las andanadas contra Ronald McDonald, los cruceros de lujo y la feria estatal de Illinois, aquí sobresalen el seguimiento de la ceremonia de entrega de los “porno-oscar” (lo que le permite la reflexión acerca de este altermundo y su extravagante y particular concepto del glamour), el recuperado “Arriba, Simba”, un texto que había sido publicado sólo en versión electrónica y que ofrece la personal visión de DFW sobre la fallida campaña electoral del senador John McCain y la inevitable mirada satírica, de humor arrojadizo, sobre una celebración multitudinaria y, a su juicio, inexplicable: la fiesta de la langosta en el estado norteamericano de Maine. El porno, la política, las celebraciones; si yo quisiera simplificar, diría que son el cuerpo y el alma de los Estados Unidos: algo perfecto para USA(r) y tirar.

Junto a estos textos mayores –en extensión y en profundidad-, Wallace incluye, siguiendo el esquema que tan buenos resultados le diera en Algo supuestamente divertido que nunca volveré a hacer, otros ensayos más breves sobre aspectos menos populares (en Wallace siempre están a la gresca la cultura pop y la “high” cultura, en un intento de conciliación aún inalcanzable), como una penetrante reseña de la novela de Updike “Hacia el final del tiempo” (que le sirve para crear una rutilante y demoledora categoría de los Grandes Narcisistas Americanos: Mailer, Roth, ensimismados y yoístas), otro ensayo sobre la poco previsible posibilidad de que Kafka fuera un humorista, y el demoledor “La vista desde la casa de la señora Thompson”, una carga de profundidad sobre la generación social del miedo –el “Horror”, lo llama Wallace- con el trasfondo de los atentados terroristas.

En realidad, poco importa de qué esté hablando David Foster Wallace: para él, toda manifestación cultural-popular exige una comprensión más allá de su propia evidencia. Y después, claro el lenguaje –el estilo, si se quiere-. Ahí es donde Wallace termina por imponerse a todos: la sintaxis de ida y vuelta, la adjetivación imprevisible, la anotación sorpresiva, los juegos de la inteligencia. Un ejemplo y termino: “...invoca el anonimato capaz de matar el alma de las cadenas de hoteles y la terrible naturaleza idéntica y transitoria de las habitaciones: el omnipresente diseño floral de las colchas, las lámparas múltiples de pocos vatios, los tediosos cuadros atornillados a las paredes, el susurro esquizoide de la ventilación, la triste moqueta de pelo largo, el olor a productos de limpieza alienígenas, los Kleenex que salen del receptáculo de la pared, la llamada despertador automatizada, las cortinas a prueba de luz, las ventanas que no se abren... nunca”. El mundo, parece decir Wallace, es una habitación de hotel donde estamos invitados a estar de paso.



.
Notas
[1] David Foster Wallace, Hablemos de langostas, Barcelona, Mondadori, 2007. Trad. Javier Calvo.

10 comentarios:

Vicente Luis Mora dijo...

La página de McSweeneys, de David Eggers, el otro gran genio y factotum de la nueva narrativa norteamericana, está coleccionando testimonios de dolor por la muerte de DFW, por si alguien quiere animarse:


"Below, we've begun a thread of memories of David Foster Wallace that will, we hope, be some kind of salve during this wretched and bewildering week. Remembering him, and hearing of his warmth, his realness, his generosity and incredible decency, from those who knew him well and those who only met him once, might dull the pain a bit and, at the very least, remind us all why he meant so much to the world. If you would like to send a contribution—and it need not be beautifully written or profound—e-mail cmonks@mcsweeneys.net. New entries will be added to the top of the thread each day. This site will be devoted to his memory for the foreseeable future."

Anónimo dijo...

"This is water"

Si alguien quiere leer este discurso de 2005 que dio entonces en Kenyon

http://www.marginalia.org/
dfw_kenyon_commencement.html

Y de un fan site sobre David Lynch, el artículo original "David Lynch
Keeps His Head", de 1996 para US Premiere magazine. Más tarde publicado en Algo supuestamente divertido que no volveré a hacer.

http://www.geocities.com/~mikehartmann/
papers/wallace.html

un saludo.
--
c.m.

Alvy Singer dijo...

Me quedo con esta frase: "para él, toda manifestación cultural-popular exige una comprensión más allá de su propia evidencia." Es así. En una entrevista acojonó su lectura de Terminator 2.

Anónimo dijo...

leí en su día esta reseña y me gustó mucho. Ya la había olvidado. Gracias por traerla de nuevo, y gracias a Javier por escribirla.

Agustín

Anónimo dijo...

Aquí os pongo un enlace a un artículo sobre, entre otras materias, como el porno,Terminator 2; lo corto más abajo por si perdéis información:

" 1990s moviegoers who have sat clutching their heads in both awe and disappointment at movies like Twister and Volcano and The Lost World can thank James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day for inaugurating what's become this decade's special new genre of big-budget film: Special Effects Porn. "Porn" because, if you substitute F/X for intercourse, the parallels between the two genres become so obvious they're eerie. Just like hard-core cheapies, movies like Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park aren't really "movies" in the standard sense at all. What they really are is half a dozen or so isolated, spectacular scenes--scenes comprising maybe twenty or thirty minutes of riveting, sensuous payoff--strung together via another sixty to ninety minutes of flat, dead, and often hilariously insipid narrative."

(David Foster Wallace on Terminator 2: Judgment Day: F/X Porn, from Waterstone's Magazine, Winter/Spring 1998.)

Texto completo:

http://www.badgerinternet.com/~bobkat/waterstone.html

http://www.badgerinternet.com/
~bobkat/waterstone.html

Entrevista con DFW

http://www.charlierose.com/shows/1997/03/27/2/an-interview-with-david-foster-wallace

http://www.charlierose.com/shows/
1997/03/27/2/an-interview-with-david-foster-wallace

Conversación entre DFW, Franzen y Leyner

http://www.charlierose.com/shows/
1996/5/17/3/a-conversation-with-
david-foster-wallace-
jonathan-franzen-and-mark-leyner

--
c.m.

Vicente Luis Mora dijo...

Uno de los afectados por la certera pluma de Wallace, John Ziegler, deja plena constancia de su inmundicia moral en este artículo de su web, donde explica las "razones" del suicidio de Wallace. No tiene desperdicio como ejemplo de perversión ética y como modelo de orgullo herido. Ziegler era caricaturizado -ahora se ve que con razón- en el último ensayo de "Consider the Lobster". Quede como testimonio:


Editorial by John Ziegler
Death of a Salesman
9/14/2008

On Friday, acclaimed writer David Foster Wallace hanged himself. The literary world was rocked by the news. I was neither as surprised, nor as upset by this tragedy as the many in the elite realm of reputable literature seemed to be.

I have a truly unique perspective on David Foster Wallace’s suicide. In 2004, Wallace contacted me to see if I would allow him to shadow me while I did my talk show (I was the late evening host at KFI at the time). He was doing a piece on talk radio for Atlantic magazine and, instead of wanting to focus on an established star like Rush Limbaugh (who, no doubt would never have let Wallace have near the access that I gave him), he said that he found my style interesting and different and wanted to write about me and my fledgling show.

For three very different reasons, I decided to give him whatever he needed to do the feature. First, since my real life is an open book on the air, I do not fear anyone learning the truth about what I do on or off a radio show. Second, since the show was in its infancy, I figured that any publicity was good publicity. Finally, I am embarrassed to say that I did not even know who David Foster Wallace was and I was too stupid or lazy to bother to simply "Google" him. It was only when the article was finally published that I realized what a “big deal” he was supposed to be.

Wallace spent at least two months following my every move before and during the broadcast of my show. At the time, I found him to be more than a bit eccentric, but certainly nice enough not to be bothered too much by his presence. Most interestingly, I was not at all impressed by him in any significant way. The fact that I was completely ignorant of “who” he was, I think actually gives me great credibility in this evaluation and also may give me some insight into what eventually drove Wallace to kill himself. You see, I was in no way prejudiced by his reputation as a “genius” and therefore was not blinded to the rather obvious reality that there was very little “there,” there.

It has been often said that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. I believe that is indeed true. But I also believe that there is an equally fine line between real genius and just plain weirdness. In my experience, Wallace had very little of the former, so he exaggerated the latter. In fact, his only real genius may have been his ability to understand that if the right people want to think that you are a genius, they will give you the benefit of the doubt when deciding on which side of that line you fall. It is therefore far better to be weird and thought, at worst, to be “too smart for the room,” than to play it straight and be revealed as a “one hit wonder” or even a total fraud.

After publishing a bloated 1,000 page novel called Infinite Jest in 1996 (which Time Magazine named as one of the best novels from 1923-2005), Wallace received the "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation in 1997. Being dubbed a “genius” at a young age (at least by the standards of the literary world) must have been a rather daunting burden for Wallace, especially when he probably knew deep down that he didn’t have the goods to back up those kind of elevated expectations.

The 23-page cover story that Wallace did on me was a classic example of the smoke and mirrors Wallace resorted to in order to maintain the illusion of his brilliance.

First, the piece ended up running almost a year after our last contact. While it was never intended as a news story, there were numerous news stories that were referenced in the article that made the feature extremely dated (and yet there was no mention of the many developments that had occurred since his reporting ended in order to bring it at least somewhat up to date). I can’t believe that Atlantic magazine would have been so lenient with regard to deadlines and such details if the writer was not presumed to be a “genius.”

Second, there were numerous (though mostly non vital) details in the story that were misleading or simple factually wrong. In fact, there are two errors and a misleading statement in just the first paragraph. It is my personal view that Wallace had intended to write a hit piece on talk radio and use me as the easy and naïve target, but that once he had spent two months with me the story he found was significantly different from what he had anticipated. Consequently, he ended up only doing a partial hit job.

Thirdly, anyone who attempts to read the 23-page cover story is immediately struck by the use of many boxes off to the side of each page where Wallace shares his parenthetical thoughts/statements to his undisciplined telling of the story. As a fan of the parenthetical statement myself, I understand what he was trying to do, but I am also totally convinced that had a normal writer (one not named David Foster Wallace) presented such a jigsaw puzzle of a submission to their magazine that they probably would have laughed at him and asked him to come back when he learned how to write.

Finally, it was Wallace’s actions after the story was finally published that really revealed to me what he was all about. I was a bit miffed at some of the inaccuracies and misrepresentations as well as the lack of any update to the storyline in the piece, but as a conservative you pretty much expect that from someone in academia who is clearly a liberal (after all, everyone in the elite literary world knows that conservatives are not smart enough to be worthy of their ranks and would certainly never attain the lofty level of “genius”). I called Wallace and asked him if he would come on my show to talk about the article. I was completely shocked and incensed when he flatly refused to speak to me on the air for even just ten minutes.

I was totally enraged that after having given him two months of access to my time, he was not willing even do a cursory interview in return. He lamely claimed that his contract only required him to do one interview for the piece and that he had already fulfilled that commitment. It was obvious to me what was really going on was that he knew that I would call him out on his inaccuracies and distortions. I think that he also realized the value and importance of maintaining the aura of mystery that surrounded him by severely limiting his exposure to mass media. The New York Times in reporting on his suicide called him “a prose magician,” and like any decent illusionist Wallace knew that the fewer opportunities the audience had to see his sleight of hand, the less chance there was that they would eventually catch on to the trick.

I never spoke to Wallace again after that fiery phone call (when I immediately called back to apologize for hanging up on him he didn’t answer the phone). Without ever bothering to inform me, Wallace expanded on his “Host” piece on me for the final entry in his last book, Consider the Lobster (which was also included in the New Kings of Nonfiction collection). In that extended version of “Host,” Wallace added several quotes from me that I am positive I told him off the record, including one statement about my boss at the time (which turned out to be true) that may have had a very negative impact on my career at KFI which would end about a year after that version was published.


I know that it is considered bad form, or worse, to speak ill of the newly dead, but to me all bets are off when one commits suicide, especially when that person is a husband and a father (speaking of bad form, when did the news media change their rule about not reporting extensively on the suicides of marginally famous people?). I strongly believe that a large ingredient of the toxic mix that ended up forming Wallace’s self-inflicted poison was the pressure he felt of living up to the hype surrounding his writing and the guilt he must have felt for not really having the true talent to back up his formidable reputation.

While I have absolutely no evidence to back up this assertion, I also think it is quite possible that he knew that killing himself in his “prime” and before he had been totally exposed as being a mere mortal in the literary realm would cement his status as a “genius” forever. After all, don’t tortured artists often kill themselves? Heck, based on the glowing and reverential reporting on his suicide, in some circles ending his on life may actually be seen as a badge of honor.

Obviously, it should not be discounted that Wallace had been on medication for depression for much of the last twenty years and that there were reportedly problems within his family. I know from having been on anti-depressants myself in late 1990's that they can dramatically curtail creativity and I am sure that he was often tempted to go off of his prescriptions.

It is in this area where the greatest incongruity of Wallace’s “Host” piece lies. He goes to significant lengths to demean and almost mock me for having such a depressing worldview ( I have admitted on the air many times that I was severely depressed and considered suicide after my mother was killed in a car accident in 1994). Some bloggers writing about Wallace’s suicide have already noted this, now all too dramatic, irony.

I doubt anyone will ever know for sure why it is that the man who ridiculed me for my bouts with depression would be so weak as to succumb to his own in the most selfish way possible. However, I honestly do believe that, based on my rather distinctive experience with him, that his suicide was about far more than just an illness and should in no way be a cause for praise.

David Foster Wallace was an overrated writer in life. His suicide should not be used to elevate him even further beyond what he deserved, in death.

Of course, as Wallace wrote in the final words of his final book (after the “genius” had just expressed “doubt” over my certainty of O.J. Simpson’s guilt), “It goes without saying that this is just one man’s opinion.”

http://johnziegler.com/editorials_details.asp?editorial=165

Germán Sierra dijo...

¿Quien rayos es John Ziegler...? Ah sí, aquel comentarista radiofónico sobre el que David Foster Wallace escribió Host. No creo que quede otra cosa de él.

F. dijo...

No sé si los libros que la gente lee en los gimnasios dan para algo representativo, pero hoy he visto a un tipo que leía "Hablemos de langostas" mientras hacía bicicleta estática.
A DFW creo que le habría hecho gracia.

Pablo Villadangos dijo...

Acabo de leer este post, pero lo que me parece más interesante está en los comentarios!! Gracias por la referencia al artículo de John Ziegler: really revolting!! He incluido un vínculo a este post sobre DFW en mi pequeño homenaje.

Anónimo dijo...

Hablemos de cortar y pegar. Collages de John Ashbery en NYTimes. Hay algunos muy divertidos. Un saludo

They Knew What They Wanted:

Imágenes

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/
2008/09/12/arts/0914-COTT_index.html

Artículo

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/14
/arts/design/14cott.html

Galería

http://www.tibordenagy.com/#/home/
--
c.m.