Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Here's What it is Like to be in Grad School

Over the summer, I tried to read Infinite Jest, an immense novel by David Foster Wallace. It is much to my chagrin that I had to add the word "tried" there, and I don't think I really need to tell you that I also failed. I made it about halfway through before moving and weddings and school caught up with me. Someday, I hope to tackle it again, but there's a stack of Edith Wharton on my office desk and a fuzzy idea for a thesis in my head that needs to take precedence...

What I did read in Infinite Jest, however, included this masterful passage wherein DFW (yeah, I acronymed that shit. what?) lists the "many exotic new facts" that you will acquire when spending any amount of time around a "Substance-recovery halfway facility."

Some of the most memorable include "that certain persons simply will not like you no matter what you do," "That no matter how smart you thought you were, you are actually way less smart than that," That loneliness is not a function of solitude," "That it is statistically easier for low-IQ people to kick an addiction than it is for high-IQ people," and "That it is permissable to want."

I, in fact, have a portion of this list written out and tacked to the wall in my office, and as I was looking at the list, I thought this:

That David Foster Wallace's list of things you learn in rehab might be just as aptly titled "What you learn in graduate school," as long as he includes this addition: That it is pure arrogance to follow the statement "I know I am talking a lot" with the word "but..."

I have since decided, too, that another important addition would be: "that some people still do use highlighters, despite the fact that you think it looks like a high-schooler is sitting next to you in seminar class."

1 comment:

Chelsea said...

OH my god...I totally sat next to someone that had highlighted an essay for our theory reading group. I felt uncomfortable for her, especially since she hadn't even bothered to make margin notes.