David Foster Wallace Dead of Suicide at 46
David Foster Wallace, novelist and essayist, has been found dead in his home in Claremont California of what seems to be a suicide. He was a professor of Pomona College.
It's been reported that his wife found him after he hanged himself. Foster Wallace, longtime darling of grad students and civilian PoMo lit fans, was often very funny in print (see his famous essay skewering the cruise ship experience, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again"), but as his 2005 speech at Kenyon College implied, he was not unfamiliar with the heft of existence:
[L]earning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.
This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.
Very sad news.