Monday, May 16, 2011

The Pale King, making conversation

It’s Russell speaking, in a restaurant, to a woman who’s just removed her chewing gum from her mouth and placed it in a Kleenex:

“Do you suppose it’s so much easier to make conversation with someone you already know well than with someone you don’t know at all primarily because of all the previously exchanged information and shared experiences between two people who know each other well, or because maybe it’s only with people we already know well and know know us well that we don’t go through the awkward mental process of subjecting everything we think of saying or bringing up as a topic of light conversation to a self-conscious critical analysis and evaluation that manages to make anything we think of proposing to say to the other person seem dull or stupid or banal or on the other hand maybe overly intimate or tension-producing?”



“What did you say your name was again?”

David Foster Wallace, The Pale King (Boston: Little, Brown, 2011)
The logic of Wallace’s ellipses is a wonderful thing: she says nothing; he says nothing; and then she asks a question. The awkward silence itself becomes a form of conversation.

Other Pale King excerpts
Deskwork : Dullness : Heroism

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