Tammy was a student in this class. Her favorite work by David Foster Wallace is "Tennis Player Michael Joyce's Professional Artistry as a Pardigm of Certain Stuff About Choice, Freedom, Limitation, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness." Here are some of my favorite quotes from the essay:
"What I discovered as the tournament wore on was that I can be kind of a snob and an asshole, and that Michale Joyce's affectless openness is a sign not of stupidity but of something else" (A Supposedly Fun Thing 227-228).
On Michael Joyce's love for tennis: "The love is not the love one feels for a job or a lover or any of the loci of intensity that most of us choose to say we love. It's the sort of love you see in the eyes of really old people who've been happily married for an incredibly long time, or in religious people who are so religious they've devoted their lives to religious stuff: it's the sort of love whose measure is what it has cost, what one's given up for it. Whether there's 'choice' involved is, at a certain point, of no interest...since it's the very surrender of choice and self that informs the love in the first place" (A Supposedly Fun Thing 228).
Wallace's love for tennis: "I submit that tennis is the most beautiful sport there is, and also the most demanding. It requires body control, hand-eye coordination, quickness, flat-out speed, endurance, and that strange mix of caution and abandon we call courage" (A Supposedly Fun Thing 235).
Redeeming the athlete: "Sex- and substance-issues notwithstanding, professional athletes are in many ways our culture's holy men: they give themselves over to a pursuit, endure great privation and pain to actualize themselves at it, and enjoy a relationship to perfection that we admire and reward...and love to watch even though we have no inclination to walk that road ourselves. In other words they do it 'for' us, sacrifice themselves for our (we imagine) redemption" (A Supposedly Fun Thing 237).
What Wallace makes of Joyce: "The radical compression of his attention and self has allowed him to become a transcendent practitioner of art--something few of us get to be. It's allowed him to visit and test parts of his psyche that most of us do not even know for sure we have...Michael Joyce is, in other words, a complete man (though in a grotesquely limited way)" (A Supposedly Fun Thing 254).
I like this essay a lot. Not because I am an athlete or a tennis player by any means. I am just amazed at the way Wallace is able to portray athletes, what he sees in athletes. I always thought athletes were kind of cool, but I have never been able to appreciate them in the way that Wallace does in his writing (including Infinite Jest and How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart). I think reading these works, if nothing more, has given me a newfound respect and admiration for the athlete in our society. I almost wish I were an athlete.
But needless to say, reading Wallace's work has taught me much more than just that. Probably more than I can ever put into words or even mentally realize.