The “This is Water ” [shown below] video that someone made of a David Foster Wallace commencement speech was floating around the internet today and I watched it again even though I remembered taking issue with it the first time I saw it. It reminds me of the author Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted Talk about mental health and artists and how we need to look out for our geniuses and keep them healthy by not making depression glamourous.
Of course, Gilbert’s talk came to mind because David Foster Wallace killed himself. And when I watched that Ted Talk, I thought that it was a little presumptuous of Gilbert to imagine that her experience is similar to the “typical” ruined genius. She basically writes self-help books, right?
Then I felt like a jerk, because maybe that’s a shitty thing to think. What do I know about Elizabeth Gilbert?
Well, I had the strange fortune to have chosen mostly books that didn’t get to the Giller Prize shortlist. I don’t mind, of course, but I had hoped to read all of the books on the short list and it might be kind of a tall order now.
Caught by Lisa Moore was my latest read and it was sort of a job. I liked it and I am tempted to only tell you about the thing that I liked about it because I am feeling a bit peer-pressured. There aren’t many reviews (I did find one, however) of Caught that aren’t a excited gushes of adoration and support.
Remember when film cameras were being replaced with digital cameras? I distinctly recall feeling super uncomfortable about that. I’d had digital cameras in my house since they started (my mom worked for a dot-com before the bubble burst). Our first one was a bulky device that took giant photos and saved them directly to a floppy disc that I could then insert into my computer to upload six photos, which took twenty minutes. The idea that those intangible cumbersome ideas of pictures would replace the thrill of pointing, clicking and waiting for your film to develop was such a bummer.
That sickening bout of nostalgia was quickly relieved, however, as cameras got better rapidly and the making and sharing of photography became practically free. I can’t imagine that there are any practically minded people out there that are still mourning the reign of the film camera.
***Remember: there will always be purists and nothing is ever really gone forever.