Novels written by accomplished writers about failed artists are nothing new. What is new is seeing a once-successful novel about a failed artist — one that’s been out-of-print for twenty years — get a burst of renewed attention.
First Poor Yorick Entertainment emerged as a “visual exploration of the filmography of James O. Incandenza and the world of David Foster Wallace‘s Infinite Jest.” Then, as The New York Times reports, “Parks and Recreation” co-creator Michael Schur paired up with The Decembrists to direct a music video inspired by the book. (You can watch the video on YouTube.) Now, thanks to this Radiolab podcast (and an alley-oop from @nateharris), another one of the novel’s scenes is brought to life.
“To me a book is not just a particular file. It’s connected with personhood. Books are really, really hard to write. They represent a kind of a summit of grappling with what one really has to say. And what I’m concerned with is when Silicon Valley looks at books, they often think of them as really differently as just data points that you can mush together. They’re divorcing books from their role in personhood.” Digital pioneer and theorist Jaron Lanier fears that the Internet might be destroying not just literature, but also the middle class.