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Blame it on David Foster Wallace

In this week’s NY Times Magazine, Maud Newton tells us why she doesn’t like David Foster Wallace’s writing and blames DFW for the voice of the internet being too familiar. Maybe she’s not actually doing this, but the whole thing is really sort of annoying, too, because to me, it kind of seems like she kind of uses all of the DFW tropes she’s railing against. Then again, who am I, anyway? (Those previous 2 sentences are an example of the internet writing Newton claims DFW inspired. I think I’m a master and I probably should have written the whole post in this style.) I think I missed the point, Ms. Newton, I’m a lesser thinker.

Of course, Wallace’s slangy approachability was part of his appeal, and these quirks are more than compensated for by his roving intelligence and the tireless force of his writing. The trouble is that his style is also, as Dyer says, “catching, highly infectious.” And if, even from Wallace, the aw-shucks, I-could-be-wrong-here, I’m-just-a-supersincere-regular-guy-who-happens-to-have-written-a-book-on-infinity approach grates, it is vastly more exasperating in the hands of lesser thinkers. In the Internet era, Wallace’s moves have been adopted and further slackerized by a legion of opinion-mongers who not only lack his quick mind but seem not to have mastered the idea that to make an argument, you must, amid all the tap-dancing and hedging, actually lodge an argument.

(Via Gabe Delahaye)