McSweeney’s is doing a really wonderful thing right now. This word selfish comes up in suicides like the word devoted does in eulogies: selfishness on the part of the suicide, selfishness on the part of the survivors for feeling personally injured, selfishness on the part of the survivors for feeling guilty about the selfishness instead of feeling grief or for simply remembering, selfishness as a kind of hopeless response in general. That human beings sometimes just have to sit in one place and, like, hurt (IJ 203). In public figures this is multiplied by thousands as the word selfish binds onto the news, leading to a feeling of selfishness that this word could even come up, as though it is some right of the public to claim selfish without a real, personal relationship or any kind of understanding of what suicide really means. All the kind of horrible cycle of selfishness and self-awareness that Wallace, better than anyone, could articulate.

The McSweeney’s page is something else. Wallace’s generosity made apparent in all of these words by friends and by strangers on the site is beautiful. Selfish isn’t the question: admiration, inspiration, love, is. This is mine:

The night I saw him read was alarming. The absolute compulsion to read “Good Old Neon” twice in one afternoon was alarming and so, too, was my real, physical reaction to Infinite Jest. That no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable (204). More than anything else it’s the alarm of someone finding you out, calling you out. David Foster Wallace has meant Truth to me the way nothing else has ever meant Truth, in all the beautiful, complicated, and truly alarming ways he looked after it. Reading Wallace meant underlining every single fear and anxiety while simultaneously proving they couldn’t be possible, because reading his books proved, above all, that I had the capacity to really, truly feel.

This grief, too, has been alarming. I don’t know what we will do without him.

I don’t know.

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