I strive to be sincere, although as my life has taught me, people can rarely be trusted. In my experience, when I do finally find someone that can be trusted, it is then that the fruits of my sincerity show.
I'm often sincere simply because it makes me smile when someone did not expect it, and watching them attempt to process/respond is something that brings me joy. Simply by exposure to sincerity, many have returned in kind; this has allowed me to help others, and even get advice for situations that one would only usually ever save for an advice columnist. (which rarely actually give you the advice you need, easier to give you want you want to hear, and it will keep you reading)
After reading this, I could not help but reflect on my own decisions when striving for sincerity. It's not exactly free of pain or the subsequent shame that can often follow, but why do I feel the need to stick with it? I think it comes down to my personality, I have rough edges and can take a royal beating, which is the kind of constitution you must have if you ever want to be sincere.
With sincerity, there is vulnerability, and while many consider that to be weakness, I count it a strength.
Just don't be surprised if someone hurts you after you were sincere, it does not protect you, and to some, me included, we don't care, and neither should you. Pain is part of life; much better to be real and to be present then to be without pain and truly alone.
I, too, count vulnerability a strength. There's an essay I keep meaning to write about it, but the short of it is that each of us has needs (and 'rough edges'), that can't be filled by self-sufficiency, but by connection. And vulnerability is what makes connection possible.
I did find one part of this article worth considering beyond just a discussion of Wallace:
>For twenty years, his entire career, Wallace wrestled with a question: How much of myself am I willing to give away to get what I want?
>He got what he wanted and didn’t want.
If there's any one dynamic that is willfully ignored by almost everybody in modern society - especially in the rise of Social Media Stardom (aka Soundcloud Rappers & Influencers) - this hits the nail on the head.
Wallace, to me, is more interesting as a case study of failure in success than as a literary powerhouse. Not everybody can be like Jerry Lewis and keep up an act for a lifetime.
May you find what you are looking for
May you come to the attention of somebody important
AKA the three curses.
There is some judgement inherent in this observation.
Pretension can be the first step towards not needing to pretend.
There is significant judgement inherent in this observation.
They're often kids born to lower-middle-class or working class backgrounds.
Or they're likeable people with good social skills who found popularity effortlessly, so never felt the need to look smart. But if you talk to them they're actually really inquisitive and perceptive.
Or they're women or minorities.
I realize that growing up, everyone who I considered to be "really smart" happened to be white, Indian or Asian and male. That means there are whole demographics of smart people I didn't even recognize.
In high school, I was considered to be a top tier "smart kid," and ended up studying physics at Stanford. I thought about a girl I grew up with... who actually ran circles around me in math in 4th grade. And was a better writer than me. But she majored in communications at USC, and is working for People magazine. She was not as beholden to the "I'm so smart" identity that I was.
Conversely, when people criticize groups that focus on a shared intellectual pleasure, that criticism too is often just more signalling, especially if there is something to be gained by undercutting the value of the intellectual pursuit in question.
Some people are prolific readers and they read things like Infinite Jest and get pleasure from discussing its obscurities.
Then some other people don’t want intellectual merit to be associated with the workload of reading a heavy book they may not particularly like, so they invent some story about how Infinite Jest readers are arrogant.
You could say the same thing about so many things: prolific open source software contribution, prolific consumption of obscure music or music that was lost to history, prolific love of a cult TV show, prolific focus on niche cooking techniques or recipes.
I think any comments that try to apply the negative stereotype to the whole group are just unproductive.
But it will always be this signalling arms race between showing value through obscure intellectual pursuit vs. undercutting that so as to avoid needing to expend the effort while still getting credit for being intellectual.
He commented to.... Maybe David Lipsky I think? that it would have been nearly impossible for these fans to have read the book in its entirety, and that it made him super self-conscious that people liked the concept/marketing/fame of the book more than the writing itself.
A friend of mine once joked that he wanted to seem like someone who has read Steinbeck's East of Eden, but didn't actually want to read it.
Hemingway's strengths are high rhetoric, and European politics of the 30's. Wallace: deep journalism in essay form.
I went back to it on my Kindle and finally finished it a few years ago and am very glad I did, I really enjoyed it.
DFW strikes me as someone who either (a) is very intelligent and creative and always spinning off new connections and ideas; he's too excited to spend the time to make the ideas clear and simple, or (b) is trying very, very hard to look like (a). (Jonathan Franzen, mentioned in the article, strikes me as trying far too hard.) Good will makes me want to believe (a), while stories like those mentioned in the article lead me to (b). Also, I'll note that the very intelligent and creative people I know tend to spend a lot of time trying to get things clear and simple.
This article, however, is simply blog-spam. Nothing to do with being a bad friend and everything to do dropping factoids about Wallace.
[edited in response to the valid criticism I received]
Your comment would be fine without the last sentence.
In case you're not aware, the site guidelines underlying HN moderation are at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html. It's good to review them periodically.