Author Archives: mr

Gately’s Upbringing and the Origin of Addiction

Keeping it simple this time.  So, towards the end of Infinite Jest, DFW gives us a detailed look into Don Gately’s past and looks at the beginning of his substance abuse problems.  All this invites the reader to guess and check, trying to pin down the cause of Gately’s downfall, but there is so much wrong, that it becomes just a vague, futile game.  Why does Gately end up how he does?  

Gately, high school football star, could not handle the academic part of high school, relying for a while on compassionate teachers and one drug synthesizer/tutor named Trent Kite.  School had no real end or set of results in Gately’s mind, and neither did his outside life, given his broken family life and friend circle that focused on substance abuse.  All he had was football, and even then, “Quaaludes and Percocets were lethal in terms of homework, especially washed down with Heffenreffer, and extra-especially if you’re academically ambivalent and ADD-classified and already using every particle of your self-discipline protecting football from the Substances” (905).  He’s still in high school here, but having gotten such an early start, I think it said he started at nine, the addiction has already taken on a life of its own, deserving of it’s own capital “S,” Substances.  Once Gately’s Mom went to the mental institution he fell off completely, coping by trying newer and harder drugs and letting them take over his football career, a battle he lost unfortunately early.

Gately’s story’s a sad one, but brings up one final point about addiction: where does it come from? I mean exactly? Clearly we all don’t need such a tragic story like Gately’s to become addicts, but it would certainly push me down that road.  Is it something everyone is capable of?  Or is it more from a set of outside factors?  Some combination?  Would Gately still have been an addict had he not been in such a harsh school and home environment?  Or is it in him anyway?  Is it in everybody anyway?  God I don’t know.  Thanks everyone!

DFW on Tourism: Is he right?

In “Consider the Lobster,” the title essay in this week’s collection of nonfiction, DFW travels to the Maine Lobster Festival.   While much of the article explores the morality and ethics behind boiling live lobsters and whether or not they feel pain in ways similar to humans, I was most struck by his small, almost tangential rant about tourism.   He addresses the concept in pretty pessimistic terms, and comes to conclusions that would not be expected (which is I suppose normal coming from Wallace).   Usually his critiques are cogent and insightful, but this one left me wondering.  

Significant time is spent discussing the more economically driven part of the festival, which even includes a movement that aims to recast lobster’s posh image and encourage a wider lobster eating audience (240).   Here, Wallace uses a footnote to explore the nature of tourism and its effect on people, as he says, “I confess that I have never understood why so many people’s idea of a fun vacation is to don flip-flops and sunglasses and crawl through maddening traffic to loud, hot, crowded tourist venues in order to sample a ‘local flavor’ that is by definition ruined by the presence of tourists” (240).   This hearkens back to his experiences on the cruise ship; I’m sure that these “tourist venues” are packed with professional smiles.   He even goes as far to say, “[Tourism] is to spoil, by way of sheer ontology, the very unspoiledness you’re there to experience” (240).   He blames tourism’s intrinsic nature for this problem, saying that tourism is a self-destructive practice that can never accomplish the goals it has set out.   In both pieces, the cruise ship and the lobster festival, Wallace locates the value of tourism as purely pecuniary, and even may cause the degradation and destruction of supposedly “real” places.

With all these problems, people still must do it for some sort of benefit, right? There must be some human value to be found, some soul searching or greater meaning, or else people wouldn’t bother.   Right?   Not for Wallace, who says, “intranational tourism is radically constricting… To be a mass tourist, for me, is to become a pure late-date American: alien, ignorant, greedy for something you cannot ever have, disappointed in a way you can never admit.” (240).   DFW claims that tourism affects the human psyche in the same way it ruins the tourist venue.   Since tourism will not provide any enlightenment or deeper truth about being alive, and instead undermines what it means to be individual, nothing at all is to be gained from any of this.   He has exposed a very problematic cycle, and one that is likely unstoppable in modern culture.   The question then arises:   Is this theory believable?   I probably would’ve had fun at the Maine Lobster Festival, just maybe not anymore after reading this story.   I would have left thinking that it was a positive experience.   Why exactly don’t most people feel alienated or constricted?   Don’t many local economies (and even small countries) depend on tourism to sustain themselves?   Is a tourist really just “an insect on a dead thing”?    

Critiques (maybe just observations?) of America in “Big Red Son”

           In the opening piece of Consider the Lobster, Premiere Magazine sends DFW to the AVN awards, adult entertainment’s version of mainstream film’s Academy Awards.   The whole article is wrought with Wallace’s trademark humor, which comes at a rate previously unseen in what we’ve read.   This is partly due to the subject at hand, which lends itself well to jokes, but through the filth and debauchery Wallace includes some compelling observations about America and the nature of its modern culture.   Wallace, without breaking stride, exposes just how extreme America’s emphasis on material accumulation, consumption, and especially instant gratification can become.    

                      The first time Wallace turns away from the events of the AVN awards is to describe Las Vegas, and give his impression of the city.   Immediately apparent is the tremendous lengths businesses go to emphasize luxury and pleasure.   Picking up in the middle of his great list of Vegas’s traits, he mentions, “Smoking not just allowed but encouraged… A museum that features the World’s Biggest Coke Bottle… Caesars Palace. The granddaddy.   As big as 20 Wal-Marts end to end. Real marble and fake marble, carpeting you can pass out on without contusion… In Caesars Palace is America conceived as a new kind of Rome: conqueror of its own people. An empire of Self” (9-10).   Wallace here uses the excesses of Caesars Palace as one strong example of the larger American need, or desire at least, for gratification, pleasure, and consumption.   He notes that the AVN awards show has only one logical location: Caesars Palace.   Las Vegas as a city and as a spectacle is a kind of microcosm for the excesses that American culture celebrates and almost deifies, like a classical Roman god or something.   But Wallace never condemns this degradation, or offers any sort of straighter path for our country and our culture.   He doesn’t need to.   Wallace does his best to expose what he believes to be the heart of Vegas culture and by extension American culture.   The rest is up to the subscribers of Premiere.

                      Another instance in which Wallace is able to encapsulate one aspect of American culture is when he is interviewing some of the AVN awards attendees.   He asks, “Q. $4,000,000,000 and 8,000 new releases a year- why is adult video so popular in this country?”   A famous porn actor and a reputable porn beat writer both respond in telling fashion, “A. Veteran woodman Joey Silvera: ‘Dudes let’s face it- America wants to jerk off,'” and “A. Industry journalist Harold Hecuba: ‘It’s the new Barnum.   Nobody ever goes broke underestimating the rage and misogyny of the average American male'” (35).   These two responses both reinforce the American aspiration for instant gratification, be it sexual or not.   Harold Hecuba’s response is notable in that he doesn’t pay respects to porn enthusiasts or perverts, but the average American male.   Hecuba knows where the lifeblood of the industry lies, and simply uses it to his advantage.   Silvera does the same thing.   They both have developed a sense of where American culture can be exploited (as any legitimate businessman would) and have probed and worked until they turn a profit.

                      Both of these instances, describing Vegas and interviewing porn insiders, help DFW unveil some of the more extreme aspects of American culture in the modern technological era.   With such desire for gratification and consumption, it is no surprise that the porn industry thrives as it does, and makes Silvera’s words more true than absurd.

Self Without Awareness (Finally)

In the short piece, “Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature,” Wallace introduces a new kind of character, a type that we have not seen from him yet.   The narrator/protagonist of the story is purely rational, distant, and trusting.   A far cry from Wallace’s more common neurotic, emotional, and troubled characters.   The interesting part is, this new character provides fresh perspective on several of life’s troubles.  

Our oafish narrator seems to categorize and catalog his world, to relate to it through a system of terms and definitions.   Wallace at times uses italics for this, as whenever he alludes to broad social concepts, be it, “special effects,” “ignorantia facti excusat,” or “old-fashioned way,” italics come into play (Wallace 186, 185).   There are other uses for italics, but I have trouble dissecting them all.   Anyway, this method for viewing the world creates a distance, mentally and emotionally, between the narrator and the rest of the world, including his unfortunately deformed mother.

While this separation is certainly profound, this character does not express any of the symptoms of alienation, anxiety, or isolation that we’ve seen in so many of Wallace’s other work.   In fact, he’s incredibly trusting and even a bit hopeful.   He puts a great deal of faith into the Los Angeles legal system, listening to his lawyers and agreeing with commercials (186).   He even defines sleazeball as the “the ones who say they will really get down in the dirt of the trench and really fight for you” (187).   He also puts a positive spin on his mother’s unlucky facial mishap, jokingly encouraging her to be an extra in film roles, “as an extra in one of the many films nowadays in which crowds of extras are paid to look upwards in terror… Which I sincerely regret, after all I’m all the support she has” (186).   The mother is quite bitter about the whole situation, and yet the narrator manages to find a smile in it.  

He is also trusting of his society in that he believes himself to be of “studious bend.”   He confirms this through standardized testing (184), without any sense of inner confidence or prescience.   He simply relies on cultural standards, as outlined in his system of definitions.   The whole setup creates an odd coupling of isolation and trust, alienation without the anxiousness. There is no real self-awareness here, just Self, which is the precise opposite of the majority of other DFW characters (the author in “Octet” and the protagonist from “Good Old Neon” as quick examples).

The question then becomes what do we learn from this lack of self-awareness in a story that’s apparently about philosophy? The narrator reminds me of Ignatius J. Reilly before he’d remind me of Plato. Is he any better off than the anxious self-aware characters? Could a system of blind trust be better than one of anxiety and loneliness?    

What type of man is Orin Incandenza?

In this week’s section of Infinite Jest, Wallace explores some new characters in more depth than he had been able to previously.   With these new scenes, new themes and ideas surface for discussion.   We’ve talked about addiction, escape,and consumption at length, but now we can shift if we so choose into ideas of personal dysfunction and anxieties that are born within.   DFW reveals some deep-rooted intimacy problems in Orin Incandenza’s life, which are reminiscent of several of the conversations from Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

Pages 565-567 detail Orin’s encounter with a Swiss hand model, and we see his detachment from her, and need to refer to her as a “specimen” or more frequently a “Subject.”   Also, it is immediately clear that sex for Orin is all about Orin, not them both, as he says, “It feels to the punter to be about hope, an immense, wide-as-the-sky hope of finding a something in each Subject’s fluttering face, a something the same that will propriate hope, somehow, pay its tribute, the need to be assured that for a moment he has her, now has won her…” (Wallace 566).   Orin finds more satisfaction in achieving his own weird goals than anything else.   And forget about a connection, the sexual act brings him no closer to any of his Subjects than before.   The fact that each of his Subjects are nameless does not help either.   He desires to be the sole, all-encompassing object of desire for every woman he sleeps with, desires to be “the One.”   Wallace suggests, “This is why, maybe, one Subject is never enough…. For were there for him just one, now, special and only, the One would be not he or she but what was between them, the obliterating trinity of You and I and We. Orin felt this once and has never recovered, and will never again” (Wallace 566-567). Wallace here reveals some trauma in Orin’s past that causes his current dysfunction.   He also affords readers a lengthy and revealing interview with Orin in footnote 234, pages 1038-1043, which delves into Orin’s relationship with his parents and Hal’s episode with eating the mold.

The interview format from footnote 234 is identical to that of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.   The sexual problems are relevant as well, especially one interview from the beginning of the book, where one hideous man says, “The real fall-down of these wanna-be-Great type fellows is they think a lady is, when you come right down to it, dumb…. She wants to see herself as a Great Lover that can blow the top of a man’s head clean off in bed.   Let her… Then you truly got her” (Brief Interviews 33).   Orin clearly falls into the wanna-be-Great type, but are his problems deeper than that?   He may want more than just to please women; he seems to want to encompass their entire range of desire.   Does that mean he is still the fool spoken of in the interview, or does his exceptionally obsessive case make him, in fact, the hideous one?   I can’t make a definitive call on this right now, maybe in the later pages Wallace will reveal more aspects of Orin’s personality and dysfunction.  

Marathe, Steeply, and artificial pleasure (happiness?)

Once again in this section of Infinite Jest we are treated to the musings of Marathe and Steeply, a conversation that has become increasingly bizarre but provides new perspective on themes addressed in other threads of the plot.   We have discussed at length the nature of addiction and rehabilitation from that addiction in class.   In this case, however, Marathe and Steeply discuss a potential reason behind our susceptibility to addiction, which is the pursuit of pleasure.   From 470-475, Steeply considers a Canadian experiment in which the test subjects were given the opportunity to experience pure physical and emotional ecstasy.   DFW uses this scene to expose and open for evaluation some characteristics of basic human nature, and expound upon his idea of “the cage,” which he first brought up a little earlier with Lyle and LaMont.

Steeply describes to Marathe the procedure through which electrodes are planted in the “p-terminals” of the brain, which cause the feelings of elation when activated.   The test animals all become obsessed with the lever, even ignoring their own bodily needs and dying for one more electric pulse of pleasure.   This makes sense for lab animals, but DFW then explains that “somehow word of the p-terminal discovery had gotten out up in Manitoba… And suddenly the neuro-team at Brandon pull in to work one day and find human volunteers lining up literally around the block outside the place” (472).   Even knowing the potentially lethal side effects, tons of people are willing to abandon their lives in pursuit of that pleasure.   To finally leave that cycle of unhappiness, “the cage” as it has been previously named.

lrose provided a lot of insight into the “breaking out of the cage” idea developed with Lyle and LaMont a little earlier in the novel, but here the point seems to shift a bit.   Now Steeply is concerned about the possibility of getting rid of the cage altogether.   If the cage idea means any choice made in pursuit of happiness necessarily causes unhappiness, why not leave the cage behind and get the electrode planted in your p-terminal and experience constant euphoric pleasure? Why wouldn’t everyone rather feel this way?   Of what concern is thinking freely if you’re experiencing “the purest, most refined pleasure imaginable…thousands of times an hour, at will” (473).   After all, these aren’t crazy people lining up outside the clinic: “all of these people willing to trample one another to undergo invasive brain surgery and foreign-object implantation… [were] fascinatingly, chillingly average, normal… nonabnormal along every axis they could see” (472-473).    

So normal young people would prefer strange, complex, controversial surgery of incredible risk to break from the cage, probably because they see it as the only option for doing so.   Previously, DFW had not offered too much in terms of a solution to this cycle of unhappiness, but this new experiment is not very appealing either.   Perhaps the idea is that most of human choice and rationality will necessarily include some level of unhappiness, and that in order to experience true elation as we conceive it we must give up something that makes us critically human: that freedom of the mind.   Or maybe not, I guess we’ll see.

The Abusable Escape: where to draw the line?

In this new section of Infinite Jest, Wallace puts a lot of attention directly on addiction, specifically the recovery process.   His story of Boston AA meetings, especially from Gately’s perspective, exposes some of the nuances and details of rehab.   Sections in particular that highlight this are on pages 200-205 and 343-367.  

Most notably the passage mentioned above reminds me of a concept Wallace suggested on page 202 and in footnote 70 called the “abusable escape.”     When recovering from addiction, DFW explains that patients cope with the emotional tension of withdrawal from whatever substance by finding a new pastime to fill the void.   He says on 202, “That sleeping can be a form of emotional escape and can with sustained effort be abused…. That purposeful sleep deprivation can also be an abusable escape.   That gambling can be an abusable escape, too, and work, shopping, and shoplifting, and sex, and abstention, and masturbation, and food, and exercise…” (Infinite Jest 202).   Now, what becomes immediately clear is that just about anything at all can become an abusable escape.   Anything.   DFW obviously selects opposing principles in his definition, likely to drive home this very point.   He also continues the idea in footnote 70, which I believe is another example of significant material being left out of the main text (like we briefly discussed in class on Monday the 23rd).

That footnote is significant in that DFW uses the long list of harmless pastimes (yoga, chewing gum, solitaire, cleaning) to show that to a recovering addict, just about anything (“ad darn near infinitum”) can replace the offending substance.   He even suggests that the addiction recovery process is an emotional, abusable escape from addiction, a notion that seems almost contradictory.   He says in footnote 70, “quiet tales sometimes go around the Boston AA community of certain incredibly advanced and hard-line recovering persons who have pared away potential escape after potential escape until finally, as the stories go, they end up sitting in a bare chair, nude, in an unfurnished room…until all that’s found in the empty chair is a very fine dusting off of white ashy stuff… (Infinite Jest 998).   Recovery from addiction here proves to be an addiction worse than what they had before.   Addiction to avoiding abusing emotional escape becomes avoiding emotional escape all together.            

So all this begs the question, where does emotional escape end and abuse of that escape start?   All the cited activities seem relatively painless and certainly not intrinsically or chemically addictive, so it becomes difficult to discern exactly when abuse starts.   The same is true of addictive substances, but usually you can tell when addiction’s starting because lives start getting messed up.   Recovering patients need activities to pass the time and keep their mind off of Substance, but how much is too much exactly?   This is where Don Gately’s section (343-367) comes in, especially when he begins to discuss Joelle.  He perhaps uses observation of others as an escape, but with Joelle Gately takes a markedly keen interest.   DFW says, “but this Joelle van Dyne, who Gately feels he has zero handle on yet as a person…” (Infinite Jest 364).     So is Joelle an example of Gately abusing his own emotional escape? Or does it not matter because observing people is harmless and seems to help keep his own substance addiction at bay? It’s worth thinking about, I think.

Also, why does DFW draw such a distinction between Boston AA meetings and other places?   Just a side note I guess.  

The Bricklayer

On p138-140 of Infinite Jest, DFW provides a transcription of an insurance claim filed by a bricklayer, in which he details a chain reaction of comic injuries.   This whole episode, like many sections of this book, raises more questions than it answers, the most prominent of which being: what the hell is it doing there?   Before addressing that, however, I couldn’t get over how familiar it sounded.   So I looked into it a little bit.

Turns out it’s an urban legend, this tale of our unlucky bricklayer, that’s been frequently referenced for decades if not longer.   Taken simply, it’s just a joke.   And even down to the insurance claim format, Wallace has pasted it nearly verbatim in between a description of a drug rehab facility (Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House) and one of Hal Incandenza’s junior high essays about TV.   He’s added his own weight values for the barrel of bricks and the bricklayer himself, and layered in the extra context of a forwarded email.   He also leaves the last sentence incomplete like in Broom of the System: “causing the barrel to begin a” (p140).   The specifics of the legend, however, remain intact.   In a work that’s original almost to a fault, what business does this property of the public domain have?

I have no idea really.   Perhaps on top of enjoying the humor, the legend helps to locate and define the novel’s world.   Wallace focuses intently on character and dialogue, often leaving the reader to discern the surroundings through this more personal perspective.   Even when he provides descriptions, they often focus on origins or physical detail; explanation of subsidized time doesn’t even come until page 223.   In Infinite Jest, everything down to basic geography of North America is different, and it may help to understand the anxieties or passions of the players to learn about the stage upon which they stand (that metaphor sucks).   The idea that urban legend in the reader’s eyes could actually happen in Infinite Jest‘s North America could help to contextualize the conversations and occurrences that DFW presents, whether they’re mundane or bizarre.  

But the extra context, the email, could change all that.   Forwarded emails are just chain letters or photoshop gags, nothing anyone takes seriously.   If people at work are casually forwarding this story around, then it’s nothing but a joke to them, too.   This exact thing could happen in our world.   It probably already has.   So what now then?   Does the world of Infinite Jest mirror ours in everything but geography and technology?   This may mean that these characters are fundamentally the same as their readers, that they think and feel in basically the same way.   That knowledge could actually help the reader to relate to them, despite the differences in surroundings and even era in some cases.   These conflicting notions are tough to untangle, and I’m sure there are more options to explore, but ultimately context and surrounding play a big part here, but explaining the work they do is, like the legend, left incomplete.   I guess that’s for us to do.    

Pretty compelling truth in a page and a half

In Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Wallace examines dozens of human tendencies or compulsions that produce emotional pain or confusion.   The one-sided interview format personifies these issues, making them not only easier to read but also more entertaining than otherwise. One of his short stories, however, “The Devil Is A Busy Man,” contains no explicit emotional or sexual dysfunction, yet exposes just as much about human nature as the longer interviews.   Here DFW riffs at once on human cynicism and on the nature of family relationships using the voice of a young child.    

On some level, we as readers already know that people are often, if not always, skeptical about anything that’s being given away without compensation.   Everyone loves free stuff, but everyone is also suspicious.   This suspicion and cynicism about giveaways, even with charitable intentions, has ingrained itself into modern capitalistic culture.   There is no free lunch.   That’s why potential customers would act curiously around the narrator.   “They’d shake their head and talk to their Mrs. and dither around and about drive Daddy nuts because all he wanted was to give an old tiller away for nothing and get it out of the drive and here it was taking him all this time jickjacking around with these folks to get them to take it” (BIWHM 70).   When the father changes his ads to include a price, even a dirt-cheap one, the general consumer response shifts.   “Where’d you get it at what’s the matter with it how come you want shed of it so bad” (70), becomes “Tickled to death to get an old harrow for next to nothing” (71).   Next to nothing is far more attractive than nothing.   Adding monetary value to something worth nothing makes it way easier to get rid of than instead relying on the charitable spirit of the seller.   The father only figured this out due to frustration, but that makes the principle no less true.   The logic is basic, as the consumer is always aware of the seller’s motivation, but Wallace calls to attention the cynicism necessary for this to become the dominant normative trend.   Using a child’s traditionally innocent point of view also helps to emphasize this contrast. This notion may influence the title, but likely there’s more to it than I can figure out.   Any ideas as to the title’s meaning?

The narrative also illustrates some of the dynamic of familial relationships.   It is immediately apparent that the father and child are close, even if their daily interactions are gritty and at times profanity laced.   The child has even adopted some of the nuances of his father’s speech, like the cursing and probably “jickjacking” and “some fool price” (70).   When people show up to buy the father’s junk, the child notices, “Their faces was different and their wife’s faces in the truck, fine and showing teeth and him with an arm around the Mrs. and a wave at Daddy as they back out” (71).   As opposed to faces “all closed up like at cards” (70), it could be that money and successfully negotiating markets tend to reinforce relationships.   That good feeling from beating the system (but not really because they could’ve gotten their item for free) is founded upon the idea that monetary value should be emphasized over basic charity.   This idea has taken such deep root that it affects even deep human interaction, like family interaction, which only institutionalizes this cynicism and drives it deeper.  

It’s pretty incredible to see DFW convey so many ideas (and there’s definitely way more to say about this piece than my little bit), so effectively in such a short space.   Perhaps it’s a testament to not only interesting perspective but also careful characterization.   Both of these qualities seem to mark many of these stories, especially the brief interviews.


Sincerity in ‘My Appearance’

“My Appearance,” the story of a TV actress’s interview on Late Night with David Letterman, provides more commentary on the effects of TV on culture and allows Wallace again to riff on sincerity and self-awareness.   Here, however, DFW provides fresh insight on topics that he consistently treads.   It appears that genuine expression is possible in a world dominated by TV, and that there may exist such a thing as too much self-awareness.  

His characterization of ‘Late Night’ is especially notable in that it goes to great lengths to establish Letterman as the opposite of true expression, true human emotion.   He is said to be “in on the joke,” and has even attached labels to parts of his body and surroundings, just to remind the audience how self-aware and clever the show is.   At one point Ron says, “Forget all the rules you’ve ever learned about appearing on talk shows.   This kid’s turned it inside out.   Those rules of television humor are what he makes the most fun of…. He’s making money ridiculing the exact things that have put him in a position to make money ridiculing things” (188).   Letterman, because of this, strikes fear into the hearts of the old veteran TV execs Rudy and Ron, and the two of them spend days preparing Edilyn for her segment and fearing the worst.   They work with her on not being sincere, as they call sincerity “the cardinal sin on ‘Late Night.’   That’s the Adidas heel of every guest he mangles” (182).     It’s this idea of sincerity in pop culture that DFW highlights and suggests may be possible, though Rudy and Ron throw it out the window.

Thing is, Rudy and Ron base their advice on the old rules of TV, where nothing can be sincere, whether it’s self-aware or not.   Edilyn admits to Rudy that she was in fact sincere with Letterman, saying, “I wasn’t acting with David Letterman…. It was more you and Ron that I had to handle…. And [says to herself] I’ll say that I felt something dark in my heart when my husband almost nudged me there.   I felt that it was a sorry business when my own spouse couldn’t tell I was being serious” (199).   Rudy thinks that he’s in on the same joke as Letterman, but it seems that Edilyn has formed a different concept not only of sincerity but also of its expression.   Rudy and Ron are trying to groom what they call an ‘anti-guest’ on an ‘anti-show,’ but Edilyn ultimately rejects that level of self-awareness and just answers Letterman sincerely.   She leaves satisfied with her experience, and believes that Letterman is as well, a notion that leaves Rudy skeptical.   Edilyn, though, is convinced enough that speaking her mind (201) is the right choice in the face of TV and pop culture, that she may have hurt or even ended her relationship with Rudy.   In trying to be too self-aware, people may lose some concept of sincerity, which is certainly essential to basic human connection.   Can you be too self-aware?