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David Foster Wallace and Music: The Grunge Writer and the Hitherto Criminally Overlooked Importance of Signifying Rappers. TONY MCMAHON RMIT University.

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Presentation on theme: "David Foster Wallace and Music: The Grunge Writer and the Hitherto Criminally Overlooked Importance of Signifying Rappers. TONY MCMAHON RMIT University."— Presentation transcript:

1 David Foster Wallace and Music: The Grunge Writer and the Hitherto Criminally Overlooked Importance of Signifying Rappers. TONY MCMAHON RMIT University Melbourne, Australia

2 [We’re] at a moment when the consensus about Wallace is congealing prematurely around a handful of canonical themes… —McHaile, B. quote from back cover David Foster Wallace and “The Long Thing”

3 a boy hotly cocky enough to think he might someday inherit Ambrose’s bald crown and ballpoint sceptre, to wish to try and sing to the next generation of the very same sad kids. —Wallace, D.F. Girl With Curious Hair, p.348

4 Listen to the silence behind the engine’s noise. Jesus, Sweets, listen
Listen to the silence behind the engine’s noise. Jesus, Sweets, listen. Hear it? It’s a love song. For whom? You are loved. —Wallace, D.F. Girl With Curious Hair, p.373

5 God has certain languages, one of them is mathematics, and one of them is music.
—Wallace interviewed by Crain, C. in Burn, S (Ed.), Conversations with David Foster Wallace, p.124

6 …pure undampered sound longing…
—Wallace, D.F. Infinite Jest, p.695 5:35

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8 The Grunge Writer

9 Contended assertion rather than problematic?

10 Punk A reaction against depressed social conditions, particularly in Britain, and the overindulgence of 70s stadium rock. 11:28

11 Grunge The nihilistic younger sibling and logical endpoint of punk.
11:28

12 …both proffered an awkward sincerity
…both proffered an awkward sincerity. They shared an allergy to facades, to disco-type slickness. Infinite Jest’s jagged multiple-conjunction opening sentences held the same promise of authenticity as the primitive musical arrangement and bad amping of Seattle garage bands. 8:00 —Max, D.T., Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: a Life of David Foster Wallace, p. 221

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14 Dada Preferences nonsense and play over serious artistic endeavour.
11:28

15 Situationism Be Reasonable, Demand the Impossible. 11:28

16 In ‘Anarchy in the U.K.,’ a twenty-year-old called Johnny Rotten had rephrased a social critique generated by people who, as far as he knew, had never been born. Who knew what else was part of the tale? —Greil, M., Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, p. 23

17 A recurrent Situationist theme: the idea of ‘the vacation’ as a sort of loop of alienation and domination, a symbol of the false promises of modern life, a notion that as CLUB MED – A CHEAP HOLIDAY IN OTHER PEOPLE’S MISERY would become graffiti in Paris in May 1968, and then, it seemed, turned into ‘Holidays in the Sun’ —Greil, M., Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, p. 21

18 London: 1970s Punk Boston 1990s Wallace Seattle 1990s Grunge
Paris 1960s Situationism Boston 1990s Wallace Seattle 1990s Grunge Midwest 1990s Wallace Zurich 1910s Dada New York 1970s Punk

19 Ratbag Australian slang for a trouble maker, an eccentric provocateur. Often used in an affectionate or semi-affectionate manner. 11:28

20 The Hitherto Criminally Overlooked Importance of Signifying Rappers

21 Revealing is the fact that the ‘also by David Foster Wallace’ list in Both Flesh and Not, though it catalogues every other Wallace publication, neglects to include Signifying Rappers. —Morrissey,T. & Thompson,L.‘”The Rare White at the Window”: A Reappraisal of Mark Costello and David Foster Wallace’s Signifying Rappers’, p.2

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23 Bogan Australian slang, usually pejorative or self-deprecating, for a person with an unsophisticated background, or whose speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour exemplify a lack of manners and education. Rough international equivalents are white-trash (U.S), chav (U.K.) and beauf (France).

24 That Signifying Rappers has not made more of an impact on studies of hip-hop and race is regrettable: the study articulates, at times problematically but always in a spirit of cross-cultural earnestness, a fascinating confrontation of race and critical engagement that both pre-dates critical whiteness theory and sheds light on an area of Wallace’s intellectual curiosity that is seldom explored. —Morrissey,T. & Thompson,L.‘”The Rare White at the Window”: A Reappraisal of Mark Costello and David Foster Wallace’s Signifying Rappers’, p.12

25 A close interrogation of Signifying Rappers enriches our understanding of Wallace’s work, revealing an oblique vision of Wallace striving to articulate a personal artistic agenda in response to the postmodern literary tradition. —Morrissey,T. & Thompson,L.‘”The Rare White at the Window”: A Reappraisal of Mark Costello and David Foster Wallace’s Signifying Rappers’, p.14

26 Sample of Signifying Rappers’ compound conjunctions
And but you can feel — p.43 But so the point is… — p.47 Well, but except… — p.94 —Morrissey,T. & Thompson,L.‘”The Rare White at the Window”: A Reappraisal of Mark Costello and David Foster Wallace’s Signifying Rappers’, p.6

27 Capitalised nouns Part to Whole Yuppie America Great White Male
—Morrissey,T. & Thompson,L.‘”The Rare White at the Window”: A Reappraisal of Mark Costello and David Foster Wallace’s Signifying Rappers’, p.7

28 Truncations thru w/o w/r/t
— p.33 w/o — p.102 w/r/t — p.84 —Morrissey,T. & Thompson,L.‘”The Rare White at the Window”: A Reappraisal of Mark Costello and David Foster Wallace’s Signifying Rappers’, p.8

29 Thank you


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