Essay On Self Injury And Suicide
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Treatment for Non-Suicidal Self-Injury
Former addicts loved to talk—part of their therapy was to talk. Eventually, Wallace was released to a quarter-way house, and then to a house with one other ex-addict. Wallace taught at Emerson College for a time. I had no idea they were so good. I remember reading them a little in high school and mostly wondering when they would get done so I could go eat something sugary and then masturbate. And he had a new appreciation of addiction and its lethality: it gave him something to warn against.
He created a character named Hal Incandenza, who bridged two worlds Wallace knew well—Incandenza is a pothead and a talented high-school tennis player. He goes to an academy run by his family, which his older brother, Orin, also attended. He sits there, attached to a congealed supper, watching at h, having now wet both his pants and the special recliner. Wallace worked quickly in the house that he shared. In June, , Wallace set out for Syracuse. The rents were cheap, and Wallace wanted to put the traumas of Boston behind him. He found a room to work in, opposite the food co-op. It was so small, he told friends, that his own body heat would keep it warm enough.
He returned to the Project; the writing continued to go well, and he stayed focussed. Around town, Wallace was a familiar sight in his T-shirt, granny glasses, shorts, and bandanna. He told Rolling Stone that he wore it to keep his head from exploding. Desperate as his life was, he was working. Pietsch, who had a reputation for publishing innovative fiction, outbid Howard with an eighty-thousand-dollar offer, and Wallace changed publishers.
It will start in the E. There are, by the O. The passage held out a hope rarely signalled in his earlier work: the possibility that telling a story could lead to redemption. The idea had been central to the sobriety sessions he had attended. Probably the A. His relationship with Mary Karr was volatile. She inspired a character in the novel—a radio host named Madame Psychosis who ends up in the halfway house. They fought. They split up. One day, according to Karr, he broke her coffee table. She billed him a hundred dollars.
He paid her and said that the remains of the table were now his. That same spring, Wallace accepted a teaching job at Illinois State University, in Normal, which had started a center for contemporary literature. He was happy to be back in the Midwest. He got his first dog, Jeeves, at the pound, and began to work at home. He chose a room to write in and painted it black, then filled it with dozens of vintage lamps. He preferred the company of townspeople to academics, and he made a point of being available to his students, especially those in the midst of personal crises. He told most people that he did not use e-mail, but he gave his students an address. In Bloomington, Wallace struggled with the size of his book.
He hit upon the idea of endnotes to shorten it. Gately, who as a child was nicknamed B. Because he refuses to take narcotic painkillers, Gately is in agony, but he learns a way to get inside his suffering. Wallace sent the remaining six hundred pages of the manuscript to Pietsch in the summer of Pietsch had not expected Gately to assume such a dominant role. Pietsch suggested extensive cuts, many of which Wallace accepted. Eventually, he learned to erase passages that he liked from his hard drive, in order to keep himself from putting them back in.
In all, he delivered seventeen hundred pages, of which Pietsch cut several hundred. The postmodernist heyday was long past; minimalism was in decline. One day, Howard was walking down West Broadway, in Manhattan, and came across a long line of people waiting to hear Wallace read at Rizzoli. Wallace did not like being the object of so much attention. As soon as he could, he finished his book tour and retreated to Bloomington, to his house and to Jeeves and the Drone—a stray who had joined him and Jeeves one day when they were out running. Earlier, Wallace had asked DeLillo whether it was normal. Wallace also began to develop a taste for journalism.
He could transmit, in a more straightforward way, his point that America was at once overentertained and sad. He took a trip on a cruise ship out of Florida to sample the packaged hedonism, and chronicled the casual cruelty of the Maine lobster fair. Yet he felt unfulfilled. It is about being in the moment and paying attention to the things that matter, and centers on a group of several dozen I. Like water after days in the desert. Instant bliss in every atom. The problem was how to dramatize the idea. As Michael Pietsch points out, in choosing the I. His characters might be low-level bureaucrats, but the robust sincerity of his writing—his willingness to die for the reader—would keep you from condescending to them. In one chapter, Wallace narrates the spiritual awakening of a college student named Chris Fogle:.
There was certainly always reading and studying for finals I could do, but I was being a wastoid. Anyhow, I was sitting there trying to spin the ball on my finger and watching the soap opera. If I wanted to matter—even just to myself—I would have to be less free, by deciding to choose in some kind of definite way. Fogle decides to join the I. He finds that the sustained attentiveness demanded by tax work is not easy to muster. As he processes forms, Dean tries to visualize a sunny beach, as the agency taught him to do during orientation.
Other agents are adepts. An agent named Mitchell Drinion is so centered and calm that he levitates as he works. A digression follows—a long footnote on the history of Lake James, followed by commentary about the confusion of having an I. Upon arriving at the intake center, Wallace says, he was given special treatment after being mistaken for another David Wallace—a high-powered accountant transferring to the facility from Rome, New York. For much of the chapter, everyone at the I. On his undeserved V.
Neti-Neti, accidentally opens the wrong door, showing him the room where agents do their silent work. Neti-Neti quickly spirits him away. He studied I. He assembled hundreds of pages of research on boredom, trying to understand it at an almost neurological level. A severe critic of his own work, he rarely reported to his friends that anything he was working on was going well. But his complaints about this book struck them as particularly intense. In , he began dating Karen Green, a visual artist. Only with real human contact can she improve. Green wanted to rewrite Wallace, so that in her last panel the depressed person would be cured.
Wallace gave her permission. When he saw what she had done, he was happy. He told her that it was now a story that people would want to read. They fell in love. In , Wallace and Green were married in Urbana, in front of his parents. Wallace had by then accepted a new teaching appointment, at Pomona College, in Claremont, California. Green chose a ranch-style house for them in Claremont. Wallace took his large collection of lamps and books on accounting into the garage, and started writing. He did not always stay in his workplace. Green had a son, a teen-ager named Stirling, from a previous marriage, and he sometimes visited. Wallace, who never felt that he was cut out to be a father, bonded with the boy. They played chess together, with Stirling usually winning.
Wallace was growing tired of teaching, but he continued to enjoy the contact with students. Wallace was thrilled that his personal life was in order: he took it as evidence that he had matured. He teased Green about what a good husband he was. Did you see that? He could be needy. At night, he would beg her not to get sick or die. He also wrote essays, published his book on infinity, and went to Wimbledon to write about Roger Federer for the Times. It would show people a way to insulate themselves from the toxic freneticism of American life. It had to be emotionally engaged and morally sound, and to narrate boredom while obeying the physics of reading. And it had to put over the point that the kind of personality that conferred grace was exactly the kind that Wallace did not have.
Wallace made a considerable start, though. He found a style that was amusing and engaging, that captured mindfulness without solemnity. Perhaps someone else reading the novel—Wallace would show it to no one—might have been satisfied. But his own past brilliance stalked him. He polished the sentences over and over. A few sections achieved what he was aiming for, or came close. In , he published in this magazine a small part of the novel, which dealt with Lane Dean, Jr.
A picture of the infant on his desk comforts Dean when he considers suicide. Another scene, in which an I. My own plan for the coming fourteen months is to knock on doors and stuff envelopes. Maybe even to wear a button. To try to accrete with others into a demographically significant mass. To try extra hard to exercise patience, politeness, and imagination on those with whom I disagree. Also to floss more. Wallace and Green discussed his quitting writing.
The Federer piece had brought him joy. Wallace tried to keep things in perspective. I sit in the garage with the AC blasting and work very poorly and haltingly and with some days great reluctance and ambivalence and pain. I am tired of myself, it seems: tired of my thoughts, associations, syntax, various verbal habits that have gone from discovery to technique to tic. Maybe the answer is simply that to do what I want to do would take more effort than I am willing to put in. In his final major interview, given to Le Nouvel Observateur in August, , he talked about various writers he admired—St. There were plenty of equally finished pages—among them the story of the levitating Drinion—which, for whatever reason, he did not include.
There were other important reasons to get off Nardil. The drug could create problems with his blood pressure, an increasing worry as he moved into middle age. Wallace saw an opportunity. He told Green that he wanted to try a different antidepressant. She knew that the decision was hard for him. Soon after, he stopped the drug. At first, he felt that the process was going well.
Given his psychiatric history, Green was worried. When he came out, doctors prescribed other antidepressants. But, according to Green, he was now too panicked to give them time to work. He took over the job of keeping himself sane, second-guessing doctors and their prescriptions. If he tried a new drug, he would read that a possible side effect was anxiety, and that alone would make him too anxious to stay on the drug. He was in a hall of mirrors of fear. He continued to write in a notebook, but he rarely returned to his massive manuscript. Not every day was bad. He taught.
He e-mailed friends. He and Green tried to maintain their lives. During the spring of , a new combination of antidepressants seemed to stabilize him. When GQ asked him to write an essay on Obama and rhetoric, he felt almost well enough to do it. The magazine reserved a hotel room for him in Denver. But he cancelled. Pietsch was amazed at how thin Wallace was. About ten days after the dinner, Wallace checked in to a motel about ten miles from his home and took an overdose of pills. When he woke up, he called Green, who had been searching for him all night. Our writers hold Ph.
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