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Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace
1996

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That you can all of a sudden out of nowhere want to get high with your Substance so bad that you think you will surely die if you don’t, and but can just sit there with your hands writhing in your lap and face wet with craving, can want to get high but instead just sit there, wanting to but not, if that makes sense, and if you can gut it out and not hit the Substance during the craving the craving will eventually pass, it will go away — at least for a while. That it is statistically easier for low-IQ people to kick an addiction than it is for high-IQ people.

Pat had said it didn’t matter at this point what he thought or believed or even said. All that mattered was what he did.
If he did the right things, and kept doing them for long enough, what Gately thought and believed would magically change. Even what he said. She’d seen it happen again and again, and to some awfully unlikely candidates for change.

‘One, one is that you attain the goal and realize the shocking realization that attaining the goal does not complete or redeem you, does not make everything for your life “OK” as you are, in the culture, educated to assume it will do this, the goal. And then you face this fact that what you had thought would have the meaning does not have the meaning when you get it, and you are impaled by shock.

One of his troubles with his Moms is the fact that Avril Incandenza believes she knows him inside and out as a human being, and an internally worthy one at that, when in fact inside Hal there’s pretty much nothing at all, he knows. His Moms Avril hears her own echoes inside him and thinks what she hears is him, and this makes Hal feel the one thing he feels to the limit, lately: he is lonely.

In short it was the familiar insanity of money in the pocket and no defense against the urge, and the thought of his woman holding his little girl in her little knit cap and mittens standing under the big clock in cold March dusk didn’t so much get pushed aside as somehow shrink to a tiny locket-size picture in the center of a part of him he and the Holmeses had set out busily to kill, with the pipe

Sì, ho letto per intero Infinite jest. No, non mi sento e soprattutto non sono una persona migliore per questo.
E la mia vita non è migliore di prima (anzi, qualcuno potrebbe dire che le ore impiegate per leggerlo avrei potuto impiegarle a fare altro, e avrebbe anche ragione) (anzi non avrebbe ragione del tutto: praticamente c’era il latte d’avena in sconto al Naturalia, il latte d’avena mi piace molto, ne ho bevuti due litri, freddi, in meno di due ore, e potete immaginare gli effetti sul mio apparato digerente. Morale, notte insonne sulla tazza, non quella di latte d’avena, con non molto di meglio da fare se non leggere le ultime 350/400 pagine di Infinite jest).
Non l’ho letto per fare il figo (anche perché capirai), e se non mi fosse piaciuto non l’avrei finito: nessuno mi paga per leggere.
Su internet è pieno di articoli di gente che si è forzata a leggerlo e, pur volendoci trovare qualcosa a tutti i costi, non ci trova nulla, e si lamenta: chi legge con questa filosofia per me è un demente.
Con tutte le cose che siamo obbligati a fare controvoglia giorno per giorno, non ci aggiungerei anche un libro di mille e passa pagine: se non ti piace, mollalo e leggi qualcos’altro, o fai altro. Senza rimpianti.
Detto questo, passiamo al libro e alle mie considerazioni in ordine sparso, iniziando da qualche buon motivo per non leggere il libro.
Per prima cosa, niente di personale contro i traduttori, anzi è un mestiere che rispetto moltissimo, ma per me questo libro ha senso solo in inglese.
Seriamente: scaricatevi l’ebook in inglese pirata (o cercate l’anteprima in regola), sfogliatelo un po’, e ditemi se onestamente per voi è un libro traducibile. Per me no: perciò se non sapete l’inglese mi dispiace ma a mio parere questo libro non fa per voi.
Inoltre, è lunghissimo (il mio Kobo segna 1476 pagine), il linguaggio è difficile (credo di non aver mai letto più di 45 pagine in un’ora), la trama è diciamo così molto saltuaria (nel senso che un dettaglio buttato lì a pagina 34 e mai più rispolverato può rivelarsi fondamentale a pagine 897, ma magari anche no) e il ritmo non esattamente incalzante.
(Ho riletto le ultime due frasi e mi sono quasi pentito di averlo letto).
Naturalmente, a meno che non vogliate fare i fighi per esibirlo in libreria una volta finito, e a meno che non dobbiate rinforzare i muscoli dorsali portandolo in giro, consiglio caldamente la versione digitale al posto della cartacea da 4/5 chili.
Passiamo alle cose positive.
Se devo essere sincero non ho trovato un singolo motivo per leggerlo, ma nemmeno per non leggerlo, o fermarmi, in nessuna pagina.
Ci vuole concentrazione, tempo, e fiducia: certi passaggi che sembrano a caso, o collegamenti che pensi “ma che cazz”, si capiscono in seguito, quasi come delle rivelazioni.
Inoltre, la sensazione che David Foster Wallace possa fare (e faccia) quello che vuole con un foglio bianco e un alfabeto a disposizione trasuda da ogni pagina, e tanto mi basta: vedere qualcuno padroneggiare qualcosa così come lui padroneggia il linguaggio è una delle poche cose belle delle vita.
Le descrizioni della depressione, delle dinamiche degli alcolisti anonimi, e più in generale delle dipendenze da sostanze varie, sono quasi fastidiose da quanto sono vere.
Leggere quello che ha scritto sul suicidio, 12 anni prima di suicidarsi lui stesso, fa girare la testa.
È stato un viaggio.


A supposedly fun thing I’ll never do again
David Foster Wallace
1997

9780316925280

You are invited to try to imagine what it would be like to be among the hundred best in the world at something. At anything. I have tried to imagine; it’s hard.

It turns out that a portion of the talent required to survive in the trenches of the ATP Tour is emotional: Joyce is able to keep from getting upset about stuff that struck me as hard not to get upset about. When he points out that there’s “no point” getting exercised about unfairnesses you can’t control, I think what he’s really saying is that you either learn how not to get upset about it or you disappear from the Tour. The temperamental behavior of many of the game’s top players—which gives the public the distorted idea that most pro players are oversensitive brats—is on a qualifier’s view easily explainable: top players are temperamental because they can afford to be.

We revere athletic excellence, competitive success. And it’s more than attention we pay; we vote with our wallets. We’ll spend large sums to watch a truly great athlete; we’ll reward him with celebrity and adulation and will even go so far as to buy products and services he endorses.
But we prefer not to countenance the kinds of sacrifices the professional-grade athlete has made to get so good at one particular thing. Oh, we’ll pay lip service to these sacrifices—we’ll invoke lush clichés about the lonely heroism of Olympic athletes, the pain and analgesia of football, the early rising and hours of practice and restricted diets, the privations, the prefight celibacy, etc. But the actual facts of the sacrifices repel us when we see them (…)

There is something about a mass-market Luxury Cruise that’s unbearably sad. Like most unbearably sad things, it seems incredibly elusive and complex in its causes and simple in its effect: on board the Nadir—especially at night, when all the ship’s structured fun and reassurances and gaiety-noise ceased—I felt despair. The word’s overused and banalified now, despair, but it’s a serious word, and I’m using it seriously. For me it denotes a simple admixture—a weird yearning for death combined with a crushing sense of my own smallness and futility that presents as a fear of death.

Sette saggi di David Foster Wallace. Sono incommentabili, perché scritti troppo bene.
Il mio preferito è The string theory (si trova anche sul sito di Esquire), ritratto di Michael Joyce, tennista nella top 1oo mondiale ma non a livello, all’epoca, di Agassi.
Il tennis, ovviamente, è solo una scusa per discutere di cosa significhi essere mostruosamente bravo in qualcosa, di cosa ci stia dietro, e di quanto alla maggior parte della gente piaccia vedere solo il risultato finale, facendo finta che i sacrifici e le scelte difficili per forza lo accompagnano non esistano. Le tre parole finali, dopo gli ultimi paragrafi, sono un tocco fantastico.

The way I am
Marshal Bruce Mathers III (Eminem)
2008

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L’autobiografia di Eminem. Il mio cantante preferito, ma come prevedibile, non c’è praticamente niente che non sia già nella discografia.
Qualche retroscena, qualche aneddoto, ok, ma meglio i dischi: tra l’altro risale al 2008, e la parte che a me interesserebbe di più leggere è quella tra il 2010 e il 2015. E sto aspettando un nuovo disco (speriamo).
La cosa più bella sono le foto dei suoi appunti da cui sono nate molte canzoni che hanno fatto la storia (sì, è così).


The Fear and Loathing Letters, Vol. 1: The Proud Highway: The Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman 1955–1967
Hunter S. Thompson
1997

9781408861943

Mettiamo le cose in chiaro, è uno dei libri più importanti (almeno per me) che abbia mai letto.
Sono le lettere di HST dai 18 ai 30 anni, una sorta di autobiografia che è molto meglio di un’autobiografia classica.
Il libro è lungo, e pieno di cose da segnarsi.
Eccone “qualcuna”, divisa per argomento.

PERLE VARIE

Dear Mr. Robinson:
You’ll be happy to know that your check for “Easy Come, Easy Go” has paid for a .44 Magnum, “the ultimate handgun.” It will knock a motor-block off its mounts, destroy a small tree, and disembowel a boar at 100 yards. No man should be without one.
Your check for the Big Sur article paid for a .22 Magnum, but this has rapidly become obsolete except for target-shooting and queer-baiting.

I will warn you again, at least 20 minutes before I arrive pale & half-naked and crazed with thirst. This time I’ll come in with a .44 Magnum in a shoulder holster and a 33 photo-lab strapped on my back. I take the damnedest pictures you’ve ever seen & even sell a few. None of the good ones, of course—just like the fiction.

FILOSOFIA GENERALE

Two reasons for writing this: one, to let you know that I’ve finished The Fountainhead, and two, to tell you that Ayn Rand’s new book is called Atlas Shrugged. I thought you might be interested.
To say what I thought of The Fountainhead would take me more pages than I like to think I’d stoop to boring someone with. I think it’s enough to say that I think it’s everything you said it was and more. Naturally, I intend to read Atlas Shrugged. If it’s half as good as Rand’s first effort, I won’t be disappointed

These people out here feel sorry for me; they don’t know what I’m going to do, and they can’t understand why it doesn’t seem to worry me. It’s so sad that it makes me laugh. I feel like the man with The Secret. They tell me I need love, and I laugh quietly.

As for me, I’m a writer, a journalist, a photographer, a traveler, a seeker of some kind—and, generally, anything I have to be.

There is just too goddamn much to do and too many places to be all at once. There are nights when I want to be in San Francisco and New York and Rio and Madrid at the same time, and it seems unjust that I can’t. If I had my way I’d be in love all the time all over the world with a rifle in one hand and a typewriter in the other and a bellyful of good whiskey. This limited existence is a shitty deal.

My feeling is that a man is born with decent instincts (and fuck this idea of original sin) which are steadily pressured and perverted every day of his life until he is either driven mad or turns into a vicious insensitive monster. The trick is to keep your feet in the shitrain, and any man who can do that deserves whatever ego he has left.

“ECONOMIA PERSONALE”

I now have the sum total of $110. When that runs out, there will have to be a Jesus—or a job.
Unfortunately, I can’t seem to grasp the urgency of the situation. There are moments when I seem to have things well in hand … and then suddenly a bar or bookstore or a basketball game appears out of nowhere to trip me up. I just can’t seem to hang onto money. Today I bought two books and a ticket to the Temple-Pitt game at the Garden. God only knows what it’ll be tomorrow.
Next week will be zero week.

But now I see that coming to New York was a far wiser move for the time being, at least. After I begin working, I’ll be about as “on my own” as a person can get: and if I can weather New York on $50 a week, I’ll be able to get along anywhere

Aside from my ever-increasing need for money, I have two reasons for asking you to give me at least a trial with the Examiner. One is the fact that I want to write and don’t give a damn how much I get paid for it, as long as it’s a living wage(…)

(…) but the combined total is not even enough to keep me in wine. The Big Money is just around the corner, of course, and it won’t be long before I get my hands on it.

This fucking debt is driving me nuts—every time I turn around somebody is dunning me for something. If I don’t make some money soon I’m going to start stealing it. This bill has ruined my day.

Dear Daryl—
Had an $800 windfall today & am now quite drunk on Old Crow. Also quite sick from a rotten cold, cough & general failure of health. Waiting now for sleeping pills to take effect so I can get to bed. Big day tomorrow—got to see various agents, editors, etc.—also order $400 camera & lenses from Hong Kong, also pay other debts,
OK. Had a big filet mignon dinner tonight and feel generally rich. Am beginning to think this is the only way I’ll ever feel that way, i.e.—temporarily, false economy, ignoring debts, blinding myself to the morrow’s expenditures, etc. But what the hell. It is a good & healthy thing to have a fine fat steak & a bottle of good Kentucky bourbon & order cameras from Hong Kong & generally feel rich.

On Monday I will take my antique Luger to a San Francisco pawnshop. Once I establish credit, I may be able to function. A man needs credit. Especially when he has no money.

COME SI VEDE, SIN DA GIOVANE, NEL FUTURO, CONSERVANDO COPIE DI TUTTO QUELLO CHE SCRIVE (LETTERE COMPRESE)

I’ve just been reading over two letters I sent you in Iceland. Perhaps I’ll try to publish my collected letters before, instead of after, I make history.

If I weren’t so sure of my destiny, I might even say I was depressed. But I’m not, and there’s always tomorrow’s mail.

Sooner or later. I don’t work hard enough to deserve “a break,” but if I don’t get one I’m going to cause trouble.

In the meantime, be careful what you tell your friends about my fame and fortune. We could both end up looking pretty silly. At the moment I’ve sold two books—one of which is lousy, and the other isn’t even written. So take it easy. It looks like things are happening, but these things happen real slow as far as fame and fortune are concerned. And a lot of damn good people aren’t making a dime (…)

SCRITTURA

This is merely the first of a series of lectures on “subjects Thompson needs to get straight in his mind.” I find that writing is the best way.

Now I’ve run out of things to say. There’s obviously no sense in talking about this kind of thing … or maybe there is, at that: I find that by putting things in writing I can understand them and see them a little more objectively. And I guess that’s one of the real objectives of writing, to show things (or life) as they are, and thereby discover truth out of chaos. And now that I think on it a while, I think that the very fact that I write this letter and that I feel a need to write it shows the value of putting words in order on a piece of paper. For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order, if you don’t lie to yourself and use the wrong words. And I guess that is why I write as many letters as I do, because it’s the only way—outside of actually getting to work and writing fiction—I can look at life objectively.

I’ll quit here, imploring you to give some notice as to your plans and movements. Also a bit of what it is like living in Madrid. Details, you know. Those are the big things. Yeah.

Whether you are a journalist or not, the only way to attempt journalism is to assume you know nothing at the start, and then only write what you find evidence to support—along with the evidence, so neither the editor nor the reader is forced to take your word for it.

FOTOGRAFIA (ERA ANCHE UN BRAVO FOTOGRAFO)
(qualche foto)

On the other hand, I have sold a few photos recently and am now buying a $200 camera from Hong Kong, plus another $200 worth of lenses. So I will have another weapon and if I can make it work it will take a real badass to get me. And if nothing else works, I still have a .357 Magnum

I was beginning to feel that no man should ever punch a shutter release without many years of instruction and at least $500 worth of the finest equipment.
(…)
Then I read Hattersley’s piece. After that I got out some of my prints and decided that not all of them were worthless. As a matter of fact there were some that gave me pleasure. And I had sold a good many, I’d enjoyed taking them, and some had even given other people pleasure.
That’s my idea in a nutshell. When photography gets so technical as to intimidate people, the element of simple enjoyment is bound to suffer.
Any man who can see what he wants to get on film will usually find some way to get it; and a man who thinks his equipment is going to see for him is not going to get much of anything.
The moral here is that anyone who wants to take pictures can afford adequate equipment and can, with very little effort, learn how to use it. Then, when the pictures he gets start resembling the ones he saw in his mind’s eye, he can start thinking in terms of those added improvements that he may or may not need.
(…)
First push 3.5 to its absolute limit, and if it still bugs you, you’ll find some way to buy that other camera. If not, you don’t need it anyway.
(…)
After all, the best way to appreciate fine equipment is to shoot with some that isn’t so fine, and then move up. But no man will learn an inferiority complex quicker than he who starts out with a Leica and consistently gets poorer stuff than his buddy with an Olympus Pen. And the man who starts out with an inexpensive but adequate camera will soon learn its limitations, and he’ll appreciate his Leica when he gets it.

SOLITUDINE

People keep calling me and telling me what a great friend I am. Everybody is looking for someone who can stand up in the wind. It is lonely standing up and crowded lying down. I refuse to be an anchor for other people’s dreams— but then I refuse to anchor mine to anyone else. So I have no choice but to stand up and piss into the wind.

Advice is almost always useless, especially when it comes from someone as confused as I was this time last year. You say I seemed to be “sinking or retreating into some inviolable isolation,” and perhaps I was.

RELIGIONE

God is on our side because we invented him. And if he wavers we’ll invent another one. If you can’t buy them, squash them. That’s the ticket.

POLITICA

I am so fucking involved in politics, etc. that I don’t have much time for the oddball stuff that is really the most important.

My position is and always has been that I distrust power and authority, together with all those who come to it by conventional means—whether it is guns, votes, or outright bribery. There are two main evils in the world today: one is Poverty, the other is Governments. And frankly I see no hope of getting rid of either. So it will have to be a matter of degrees, and that’s where we quarrel.

Every Republican in the land should be horsewhipped—and every Democrat, too, for that matter.


The rum diary
Hunter S. Thompson
1998

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 How Sanderson tolerated him I couldn’t understand. He was never anything but gracious to Zimburger, even when it became obvious to everyone else that the man should be strapped up and rolled into the sea like a sack of waste. I guessed it was because Sanderson was too much a public relations man. I never once saw him lose his temper, and in his job he was saddled with more bores and bastards and phonies than any man on the island.


Happy, I muttered, trying to pin the word down. But it is one of those words, like Love, that I have never quite understood. Most people who deal in words don’t have much faith in them and I am no exception — especially the big ones like Happy and Love and Honest and Strong. They are too elusive and far too relative when you compare them to sharp, mean little words like Punk and Cheap and Phony. I feel at home with these, because they’re scrawny and easy to pin, but the big ones are tough and it takes either a priest or a fool to use them with any confidence.

You’re the same way, he said. We’re all going to the same damn places, doing the same damn things people have been doing for fifty years, and we keep waiting for something to happen. He looked up. You know — I’m a rebel, I took off — now where’s my reward?
You fool, I said. There is no reward and there never was.

Il romanzo è stato scritto circa quando aveva 20 anni mentre viveva a Porto Rico, poi abbandonato, ripreso, abbandonato, riscritto… Per 40 anni, fino a che non è stato finalmente pubblicato (tutta la storia è contentuta in The proud highway, vedi sopra). Si legge bene, ma sicuramente non è il libro per cui ricordiamo HST.
Ne è stato tratto un film, con Johnny Depp protagonista, ma non l’ho visto.


ALTRO (ARTICOLI, ECC)

DAVID FOSTER WALLACE: A PROFILE

Bel ritratto di David Foster Wallace a 25 anni.


Pete Souza: White House / Year in photos

Pete Souza è il fotografo ufficiale di Obama. Lasciamo da parte la politica, quello che ci interessa qui sono le foto di Souza, che sono incredibili. Questo link rimanda agli album su Flickr della casa bianca, quelli intitolati “Year in photos [2011, 2012, ecc]” raccolgono la selezione degli scatti preferiti di Souza, con annessa didascalia.
Per me è un fenomeno.
Certo, Obama è un attore incredibile, e il rischio delle foto di Souza è di far sembrare un po’ tutti persone decenti e rispettabili e innocenti e carinissime… Ma stiamo divagando, e magari lo sono sul serio. Certo.
Ok, torniamo a noi: per i più curiosi, consiglio questo documentario del National Geographic su come lavora Souza e cosa comporta fotografare il presidente Usa in termini di responsabilità, comportamenti, curiosità spicciole… A me è piaciuto.


Matteo Pezzi

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