Living without an audience
There are two quotes I've been thinking a lot about.
One thing I admire about both David Foster Wallace and Bo Burnham is that they're both outspoken hypocrites, that is, outspoken about their hypocritical-ness. And on some level, their hypocritical-ness is what makes them. For Bo Burnham, that means being the performer. Bo got his start when he was 16 years old, on Youtube. He says that one thing that comedians are supposed to do is to talk about what they know, and that the only thing that young Bo really knew really well was performing, and so any form of trying to relate to his audience was automatically a bit feigned. David Foster Wallace wrote a highly entertaining book about entertainment's effect on America, and the real tragedy that it is. And he made the book intentionally difficult to read, and cyclical, infinite, so that no reader could find an entirely firm sense of closure with the book. There are many hypocritical elements in both of their works, and both are highly aware of that. But both of them don't much care, because at the end of the day their work is really trying to connect with and speak to an audience. Maybe for selfish reasons, but also for positive reasons, trying to make someone feel less alone or learn how to cope with the loneliness of being.
Both illuminate this mystical aspect of postmodern criticism that says "You don't have it bad, since someone else has it worse." The truth is, many—if not all—of us Americans feel this "lonely and hollow" feeling. Wallace would describe it as a "feeling of having found and lost some infinite thing." I don't think it's funny that people joke and criticize those who reveal this loneliness. As though it were näive to admit that you were feeling pain, because someone would point and say that your pain was inauthentic because you didn't fit the social criteria.
When I started this blog I started it actually to sort of bring myself out of loneliness. There was this girl I liked, and I thought that if I wrote interesting articles that I could get her to read them or edit them. It didn't work, but I realized that I felt better about myself. And I kept the operation secret, and the secret allured me. And I told a couple people, and a couple more, and my parents, and soon enough I was writing for an audience. I found it increasingly difficult to reach my weekly deadline, because I stopped feeling good about myself. I'm worried that what if I go to college and spend a shit ton of money and then get a degree where I get paid to produce things for an audience, and I realize too late that I'd rather not. What if I discover that there's no way to turn back and find a way to write for myself, again. I also want to create things like dance and theatre and experimental stuff that takes work and collaboration and time and money to produce. I want to create authentic experience.
I'm not saying I'll be stopping writing for this blog. I'm saying I'm stopping writing for other people on this blog.
My main view towards success has been this notion of being liked and admired by many people including those I was close with: my family, friends, colleagues. I don't think i'm unique in this fantasy, right? But so I centered my job goal around this: get a job where I feel proud about myself, where I feel smart and interesting and likable and sophisticated. The strange paradox, I've learned, is that this sexy philosophical stuff, like entropy/linguistic systems/postmodern irony/Godel-math really points towards pragmatic conclusions about the way I want to live my life. And now, the most beautiful thing I've read:
"For him, the game is about 'the places where things broke down, fragmented into beauty' (81, Infinite Jest), not a blent of 'non-order' and 'limits' that is best understood in terms of something called 'Extra-Linear Dynamics,' which an endnote describes as an offshoot of 'the pure branch of math that deals with systems and phenomena whose chaos is beyond even Mandelbrotlan math's Strange Equations and Random Attractants' (994n). These (largely parodic) technicalities aside, Schtitt's mathematical analysis of tennis functions as yet another self-reflexive description of the novel's Wittgensteinian method, in which communication with the reader is a game. Tennis, like Wallace's novel, is geared toward "expansion, the aleatory flutter of uncontrolled, metastatic growth," while any given match—much like the novel's circular, nonlinear plot, as well as its incessant probing of both its characters' and its readers' interiors—is a process of "infoliating," producing an "infinity of infinities of choice and execution, mathematically uncontrolled but humanly contained, bounded by the talent and imagination of self and opponent, bent in on itself by the containing boundaries of skill and imagination that . . . kept both [players] from winning, that made it, finally, a game these boundaries of self (82)." . . . "Schtitt argues that the 'true opponent, the enfolding boundary, is the player himself,'" while 'the competing boy' on the other side of the net is 'not the foe; he is more the partner in the dance' (84)." (Understanding David Foster Wallace, pages 172 and 173, by Marshall Brown)
And there's more.
Idk. I've deleted my ironic instagram account. I was going to try to, at the very end after having dragged my followers on some long and self-reflexive journey, try to prove some point about social media. But then I realized today that what's the point. That it'd be probably the most narcissistic, ego-inflating, bullshit idea. So instead of doing any of that, i'm actually going to fucking quit and try once again to re-center my life. I made a good effort the last time I really tried. But then my plan, to be quote wholesome, caught fire in front of me and exploded into ironic hypocrisy and ballooned superficiality.
So here I go.
April 18th (2018)—I found a quote that applies to this article. It was hidden in Girl with Curious Hair -section of Marshall Boswell's "Understanding David Foster Wallace." It comes right after a part discussing how the poem "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror" by John Ashbery influenced the book.