A Supposedly Shining Thing

My friend Sean Kelly has a really interesting new book coming out:  All Things Shining:  Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age (with Hubert Dreyfus.) Lest that sound retrograde, note that the circle of “Western Classics” is drawn broadly enough to include David Foster Wallace.

The book has a blog, as books do.  Today’s entry is actually a short conversation between me and Sean, about my favorite paragraph in Wallace’s essay “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” and what it has to do with Sean’s argument about Wallace, Nietszche, Melville, and the ocean.  Sean was kind enough to let me read the chapter on Wallace in advance, and it’s great; I hope other DFW enthusiasts will read it, and the rest of the book too.

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3 thoughts on “A Supposedly Shining Thing

  1. John Sidles says:

    Not too many members of the STEM enterprise have actually found themselves in a all-too-small boat in the middle of a all-too-vast ocean, and as one of that small group, I can personally testify that the terror and despair have comedic overtones that the writings of Wallace, Nietszche, and Melville all miss.

    The authors that one really wants to read (IMHO) are Jerome K. Jerome, Mark Twain, Joseph Heller, Christopher Moore, and Lemony Snicket … who among them cover pretty much all the territory that Wallace, Nietszche, and Melville cover … and considerably more besides.

    The son who caused me to end up (unwillingly) on that boat wrote me recently from a remote outpost in southern Afghanistan, saying: “I’m having a blast overall, although it’s one of those situations were every individual minute by itself is hell.” Yes, that is the kind of attitude that helps one wind up on a small boat.

    One reality, though, that Wallace, Nietszche, and Melville *do* capture is this: big first-world boats definitely don’t stop for small third-world boats.

  2. John Sidles says:

    Gee, now I wish the above post had mentioned Sherman Alexie too. So this one will.

  3. [...] LA Review of Books, reviewing Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Kelly’s All Things Shining: It may seem strange for a book about the good life to make such an extended [...]

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