Wallace and Hunter S. Thompson

Hey all. I mentioned to my older brother that we were about to get into Infinite Jest so he sent me an article written by Wallace, for the magazine Harper’s, that he felt had informed him about Wallace’s voice and motivation as a writer. As finished that article on the note of sad hope that already seems to me to be indicative of Wallace’s vision in his writing, I could not help but to compare it to another similar article that had resonated with me a few years ago by the madman Hunter S. Thompson. Both articles explore a similar scope of disgust of their respective subjects, but whereas Wallace pushes through his initial disgust and is able to see the humanity underlying his subject, Thompson revels in the filth and degradation of both himself and others. Written twenty-three years apart, the articles in conversation with each other, as well as additional interviews and reading, helped inform my understanding of the reactionary bent in Wallace’s writing. The generation above him had a (pre-Punk) Punk Rock attitude about society, that is to say, burn it, break it and leave the hope for priests and fools. Thompson holds up society to a spotlight, smashes it with a hammer, stomps on the pieces and leaves the reader holding the jagged shards with no hope or desire to put them back together. Wallace, by contrast, elevates much the same society, gently pulls away layers and layers and slowly reveals the universality of the condition of consciousness. This shift away from the hopeless loathing, both of self and society, that seemed indicative of the previous generations writing came with the realization that anyone can break, and sometimes you have to destroy in order to have the materials with which to build, but destruction without thought of reconstruction is terrifying in a society. Anyway, like skipmcflip above, first blog post ever, let me know what you think.

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