Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Winter: An Artistic Dilemma

    I think that a problem artists have, when trying to deal with the world, is that we tend to know ourselves better than we know anyone else and we tend to be a cerebral, analytical and, to borrow an old term from Woody Allen, "verbal," lot.  David Foster Wallace was, artistry aside, a genius level intelligence.  He was not only extremely facile with the English language and possessor of a large vocabulary, but was highly educated in arcane modern branches of philosophy and mathematics as well.  He also had excellent understandings of music and competitive sports.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Winter: The Stages of Grief

    Within the first third of Infinite Jest we learn what happened when Hal Incandenza, a brilliant tennis player on the rise and son of filmmaker James Incandenza and brother of professional football kicker Orin Incandenza, found James after his suicide by microwave.

    James is the auteur behind the movie "Infinite Jest."  His suicide, perhaps on impulse after relapsing into alcoholism, was extremely gruesome.  He rigged a microwave so that he could put his head inside, effectively turning his cranium into a pressure-activated flesh bomb.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Winter: Umberto Eco Is Dead

    I’ve never seen David Foster Wallace connected to Umberto Eco.  That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. But sometimes it is too tempting to compare writers just because they happen to write long books that are intellectually driven.  There are many ways to conquer the beast of the novel of ideas and these two writers may not have shared many tactics.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Winter: Hamlet as Baseline

    One of David Foster Wallace’s goals (he said, sometimes) as a fiction writer was to help people combat loneliness.  Writing fiction allows the writer to reach out to an audience of strangers.  Reading it allows the audience to reach out to an author they will likely never meet.  Reading texts in common, like with Infinite Winter, gives us a chance to have a shared experience. I think a shared intellectual experience is why a lot of us have nostalgia for school (both high school and college).

    Michael Maiello's picture

    What If Bernie Broke Up The Banks?

    I'm not blogging politics right now because Infinite Jest.

    But if Rolling Stone has room for me, who am I to say no?

    Here's my take on what would happen if Bernie got his way on Wall Street.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Winter: The Hurt of Smart and Talented

    A huge theme of Infinite Jest is that there are pains inherent with talent.  A big part of this is athletic talent, which David Foster Wallace could write about because he was an immensely talented tennis player, just shy of pro. Another part of it is intellectual talent, which he could also write about because, well, if you’ve read him, I don’t have to try and convince you.

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    DFW Told You What About A Fish?

    We have reached the 20th anniversary of the publication of Infinite Jest and I have just finished reading Signifying Rappers, a short book of essays written by David Foster Wallace and Mark Costello, designed to ape the style of the late music critic Lester Bangs, but about the burgeoning commercial and underground rap artists of the late 1980s and early 1990s.  It was a bit of a shock to realize that DFW hated The Beastie Boys but then, those were the “Fight For Your Right To Party” Beasties.  We have all grown up so much these days and some of us have died.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Live Blogging the Democratic Debate (Without Watching) OPEN THREAD

    Opener.  Bernie looking confident.

    Bernie:  You're going to be first against the wall when the revolution comes!

    HRC: Bring it, Trotsky.

    Martin O'Malley -- will not be utilized for these purposes.

    ***

    HRC: I was actually a member of Seal Team 6, then.  Never mentioned it before as it was classified. We dumped him in Mississippi.

    ***

    Bernie: Guns wouldn't be a problem if people had unions.

    ***

    HRC: I can't tell if The Revenant is a great movie or just a shallow revenge tale.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Trump-o-Nomics or, How To Bully China

    Okay, this is a brilliant reveal of the Donald Trump worldview which is, really, that a big borrower has all the power in the world, assuming people want to get paid back. Discussing how, as president, he would force China to handle the problem of North Korea, he says:

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Obama's America: The Final Year

    Four years ago, The Daily assigned me my last piece -- a look back at Obama's America from the vantage of 2016.  The finished product is no longer online, but I do have a draft in my Google docs.  In a broad sense, my predictions turned out pretty well.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Revolution of the 1%

    I know that I'm supposed to fear that the political ascendancy of Donald Trump is just evidence of our society sliding, like Weimar Germany, into unrepentant fascism, but I still think his campaign is a lot of fun because he is a very powerful man bent on speaking truth to power.

    Take, for example, his "sorry, not sorry," apology to Republican power brokers:

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Obama Should Not Have Spoken Tonight

    What happened in San Bernardino represents an unwelcome threshold between the ideal behind Islamic-inspired international terrorism and homegrown violence.  Obama made a mistake tonight by elevating a criminal event into an international incident.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Social Safety Net Isn't Good Enough

    A fascinating analysis in The New York Times today takes a crack at the Thomas Frank problem of why people vote Republican, against their own economic interests. Alex MacGillis reports his way to a new conclusion -- people using government assistance aren't voting at all.  Those who have used it, successfully, to clamber into the lower rungs of the middle class are voting and they are voting against the programs that helped them succeed.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Anger of the West

    Richard Roger Cohen, who seems more and more like a left-leaning Western declinist with each column, writes angrily today in The New York Times about America's incapacity for anger in the wake of the Paris attacks.  Cohen is remarkable tone deaf, given the history of Western anger in the Middle East and what it has wrought for us since 9/11.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    For the Love of Wall Street!

    If you get your news from Politico, you are a strange person, but they have been pushing the line for months that Wall Street likes Hillary Clinton and also Jeb Bush.  The line is that anonymous financial services types find both acceptable.  The inference for liberals is that this means Clinton is as much a tool of the financial industry as a member of the Bush family.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Our Complicated, Uncompetitive Primary

    If you read the comments around Dag, you're not only seeing the best stuff on the site (pause for cheap pop from the regulars) but you'll also maybe notice that I've been pretty darned fascinated with Hal Ginsberg's pro-Sanders take on the Democratic primary.  This primary is interesting for a liberal who supports both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.  For one thing, Hillary is going to win.  But Sanders makes great contributions to the big national debate almost daily.  I am, in a word, happy.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    When Captain America Throws His Mighty Shield

    Marvel comics is soft-rebooting all of its titles.  Marvel is, along with Star Wars, Star Trek and pro wrestling, a huge part of my pop-cultural life.  I'd love to say, "my childhood," but we all know that's too kind.  

    Michael Maiello's picture

    What Ruth Marcus and Brookings Don't Get About Microeconomics

    Thanks to Hal for referencing The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus on Hillary Clinton the other day.  I don't read Marcus too regularly, but when I do, it reminds me why not reading her is probably an IQ booster.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    A Gun Truth Movement for Gun Truthers

    I admit, as a smoker in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I found those "Truth" anti-smoking ads to be pretty obnoxious and I expected that they would be no more effective than the "Just Say No," anti-drug ads of the 1980s.  But I was actually a little older than "The Truth" was aiming for, and a little too set in my ways. I had to find my own path away from nicotine. The Truth ads, meanwhile, were effective enough that a whole lot of people who were 5-15 years younger than me never had to waste any time or money on tobacco, much less endure the trial of quitting.  Good for The Truth.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Cadillacs All Around

    In the U.S., most people get their health insurance through their employers because... well, because the government wants it that way. 

    During World War II, American industry needed workers to meet the industrial needs caused by a gigantic war.  That demand for workers resulted in enormous wage inflation and the government decided to stop that by putting compensation caps into place.  Remember that next time somebody tells you that the government can't interfere with the markets by, say, regulating drug prices.  When it came to wages for ordinary people, the government interfered in the markets without much regret.

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