Tuesday, May 4, 2010

From an article about David Foster Wallace

Here's a paragraph I loved from a review of a new book about the late author David Foster Wallace, one of whose books ("Up, Simba") was a description of traveling in the Straight Talk Express, John McCain's 2000 campaign bus. Is this terrific or what?

"...nothing left anywhere but sales and salesmen."

Written by Michael O'Donnell in Washington Monthly, here's a link to the complete piece.

This magazine’s readers answered that question for themselves long ago—if not during the 2000 primaries then certainly during the 2008 general election. Citizen McCain, with his expedient repositioning, ferocious temper, and shameless cashing-in on character-building experiences, made that easy. But in addition to examining McCain, "Up, Simba" also discussed the cultural forces that both produced him and revealed him as a fraud. The key was advertising—one of Wallace’s most animating topics. McCain ran for president in an era of marketing, and his vaunted authenticity itself became a product, with catchphrases like "Telling the truth even when it hurts him politically." Which, of course, helped him politically. McCain sought, Wallace observed, to reap political gain by affecting indifference to political gain. In the face of this confusing show, one could only feel "a very modern and American type of ambivalence, a sort of interior war between your deep need to believe and your deep belief that the need to believe is bullshit, that there’s nothing left anywhere but sales and salesmen."

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