Is David Foster Wallace the Increase Mather of postmodernity?
By Michael J. Altman
I don't know where I came across this on the tweeters and facebooks (or "the ebays" as Bobby Bowden would say) but over at In These Times Theo Anderson has a wonderful essay on the Puritan dimensions of David Foster Wallace. Here's a taste.
If rarely his explicit subjects, though, religion and politics were nearly always Wallace’s subtexts. He mostly ignored the hideous spectacle of electoral politics in the United States, and he had no time for the nonsense that pervades much of American religious life. But his work is obsessed with the roots of our religious and political poverty. It’s a sustained jeremiad aimed at America’s spiritual childishness, and it’s a plea for preserving what is most valuable in religious thought and practice. Wallace was a Puritan, not in theology, but in his sensitivity to a set of insoluble questions and tensions that are deeply rooted in the Calvinist tradition – most notably the tension between freedom and determinism.I'm by no means an expert on Wallace and I found the piece doubly interesting when a friend commented on my Facebook page that Wallace was a devout Catholic and, while with Mary Karr, would attend mass regularly. Anyone else out there know more about Wallace's religious life and how it influenced his politics and writings?