21 October 2010

Day 208: Consider the Lobster

"Certainly the End of Something or Other" in Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace. ISBN: 9780316156110. 

Wallace provides excellent analysis of one of Updike's characters after explaining why my generation and several before me dislike Updike's writing so much. Wallace states, “It never occurs to [Ben Turnbull of Toward the End of Time], that the reason he's so unhappy is that he's an asshole.”

Most of the people I've met who have had this affliction do not realize that they're assholes because they have some form of social dysfunction, whether through genetic misfortune or being locked up in a basement their entire lives (literally or figuratively), that prevents them from realizing they are being assholes.  This is where I think being more honest and forthright would come in handy. 

Generally when someone says or does something that makes them sound like a dick, everyone shrugs it off because we're all too damned polite to say anything about it. So really we only have ourselves to blame when the giant moose shows up at our next party and poops on the rug again. The big dumb moose doesn't know it's wrong, because he's a freakin' moose. I can see where you confused him as a civilized human being because all the fashionable moose are wearing human this season, but you still invited him to the party (or his date who was tasteless enough to date him in the first place and even more tasteless to actually bring him to your fancy No Mooses Pooping on the Rug Party).

It's not that we don't want him to be a moose, but there are certain expected behaviors when you are in the company of not-Moose. It is very reasonable to take the moose aside and calmly explain that pooping on the rug is unacceptable and if he does it again he can expect to be shunned until he is an old moose, after which he will die alone only to end up as a stuffed head in the ski lodge where he will be forced to watch the ski bunnies he so desired frolic with much more handsome and well-adjusted moose. 

There are of course also the people who don't have the excuse of being afflicted with social dysfunctions.  These are people who have somehow been told that they are incredibly amazing people who can never do any wrong.  They are usually physically attractive and/or rich and/or insanely smart, or at the very least have been treated as such for so long that it no longer matters if they are or were ever any of those above mentioned qualities. I'm not sure that there's really any help for these people for a number of reasons. Usually they have been told that they are (acting like) assholes, but because they are such big assholes they usually figure that someone is being oversensitive, or in terms an asshole is more likely to use, "a pussy." 

I've noticed that these people are often surrounded by their own kind (when they have friends at all) with the occasional unsuspecting decent person being attracted to the previously mentioned Smarts, Good Looks, or Money without realizing exactly how big an asshole they just attached themselves to.  If you need to know whether or not you're associating with one, take a good look at their friends.  If you can tell they're all assholes, you're dating an asshole.  If they have one or two asshole friends that they only grudgingly hang out with, you're probably okay.  If you can't tell, you might want to think about the last time someone said something about your behavior and how you responded to that information.

I don't necessarily agree with this review, but I think it's well written, entertaining, and makes some good points.


  1. Ah, the moose is a great analogy! (is that the right word?)

    This makes me think of that book I wish I could burn to death (yes, BURN TO DEATH), "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell." I honestly have no idea why it's published, why it's popular, why they made a movie of it, why this man has friends/girlfriends/money, or why WOMEN buy this book AND LIKE IT. This man epitomizes that second asshole-type you mentioned, and he embraces it wholecockedly (you see how substituted "heart" for "cock" there? yeah...it didn't quite work).

  2. Dayna, your use of cock instead of heart immediately got me singing Eve 6's "Beautiful Oblivion" using the same substitution.


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