I’m doing this thing where people read David Foster Wallace’s book, Infinite Jest. You basically commit to reading the whole book over the course of the summer. It’s not exactly an easy thing; the book’s a real tome, over 1,000 pages of dense prose.
The exercise is sad and poignant; I’m not the first, nor will I be the last, to say that. Wallace hung himself last year, and his death touched me deeply, more so than many others. Wallace suffered from depression, as do I, and it’s my experience that unless someone has suffered from it, they can’t know what it’s like.
Depression’s awful, but you know that already; if not first-hand, then certainly second-hand. What’s tragic about Wallace’s death is that despite being surrounded by people who loved him, who sought and reveled in his wit, who celebrated his triumphs and mourned his agonies alongside him. Despite all that – in the end, he was desperately, gnawingly alone; and in order to escape that storm, he killed himself.
There have been many times in the past decade when I’ve looked in the abyss; there will undoubtedly be many more such times in the future. I don’t know how that will end, only that it will. I’m glad that I’ve turned away each time, but I fear the moment I won’t.
Anyway, if you get the chance, read the book. It’s really quite good, and it’s as good a way of mourning Wallace as any.