Friday, October 10, 2008

Personal Tributes to DFW

Pomona College has compiled a page of “personal tributes that we receive from members of the extended Pomona College community—students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends—who want to add their own brief personal memories of and reflections upon David Foster Wallace and his works.”

I like this personal tribute (which I originally found quoted over at Conversational Reading):

1) He chewed tobacco. Everybody hated it and he tried to quit a few times, but he usually spent at least an hour of each class chewing and spitting into a 32 oz. Slurpee cup.

2) He loved pop culture.

3) He had terrible fashion sense.

4) He was cool.

5) He was obsessed with grammar. He wrote about it some, especially in one published essay, but it’s hard to understand the depth of his obsession without having written and turned in papers to him. Responding to the first essay I ever turned into him, Dave started with the line, “There are a lot of interesting themes you’ve touched on ... but to discuss those themes would be like conversing about the weather over a bloody, mutilated corpse.” Over a few years, Dave learned not only some tact but also that not every person in the world was raised to diagram sentences as a child.

6) He talked as he wrote, sometimes literally. He used bullet points in his arguments. He footnoted certain comments with follow-up comments. There was nothing affected or exaggerated about his style.

7) He never talked about his work. Not once in the three workshops I took with him. I’ve had numerous professors force their students to read their own work in courses, but he would have been mortified by the idea. There wasn’t a bone in his body that wasn’t humble.

8) He was funny. God, was he funny.

9) He was fascinated by emoticons. After a student explained them in class one day, he began making his own and using them as his signature when he marked up a draft of our work.

10) He would have found at least six grammatical mistakes in this list.

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