Surprise is not a prerequisite for sadness.
David Foster Wallace, wordsmith notable for having written numerous great essays and the wonderful–if complex–Infinite Jest, was found dead yesterday. Wallace’s wife found him after he had passed by hanging himself.
Few who were familiar with Wallace and his work will be totally shocked; suicide and depression were oft mentioned material for the author. But the mere proliferation doesn’t ease the pain of losing this kind of talent.
His own prescience about knowing oneself (to use the cliche but correct Polonius phrase) and ability to take perspective, most notable (at least in the free-use realm) in his Commencement at Kenyon was one of his finest gifts. At the same time this deftness with converting experience into words was one of his most difficult challenges to transcend. As Wordsworth said of himself, “The world is too much with us; late and soon,” and one gets the feeling the world, and its dusty corners that Wallace shed light on, were indeed “too much with [him]”. Thus, it is with the same sense which we took on the suicide of Elliott Smith, David Foster Wallace will be missed not with shock, but with a kind of resigned tragedy. It’s like the rain on a parade after a dour forecast; you packed your umbrella, but hope still that the storm will pass. He was 46 years old.
Check out his excellent fansite for more information and resources about his writing.