THINK OLIO AND NOWADAYS PRESENTS: Getting out of our Comfort Zone: David Foster Wallace’s The Depressed Person and This is Water

Every Tuesday night we team up with Think Olio to present an amazing 90-minute class (with a beer break, of course) in a corner of the Nowadays back yard. This week we’re presenting a class called Philosophical Trash Talking: Reading and Ridiculing “The Languages of Art”, with Professor Geoff Klock. Geoff has a doctorate from Oxford and is an associate professor at BMCC-CUNY, where he teaches mostly comp, but sometimes film, and old school Brit Lit. He is the author of three books, two about comic books and one about poetry. His new one will be about Hannibal Lector, the TV one.

David Foster Wallace is important – I am sorry to be that guy – but who has time for a 1200-page novel that actively tries to not be enjoyable? So join me this evening as we experience the most grim and darkly funny short story I have ever seen and an uplifting commencement address.

The commencement speech is one Wallace gave to the graduating class at Kenyon College in 2005. It covers subjects including “the difficulty of empathy,” “the importance of being well adjusted,” and “the essential lonesomeness of adult life.” Additionally, Wallace’s speech suggests that the overall purpose of higher education is to be able to consciously choose how to perceive others, think about meaning, and act appropriately in everyday life. He argues that the true freedom acquired through education is the ability to be adjusted, conscious, and sympathetic.

The short story, “The Depressed Person”, ran in Harper’s back in 1998, and most Wallace aficionados are familiar with it. It follows a depressed person who remains nameless throughout. The first sentence gives you a pretty good idea of the whole thing’s tone: “The depressed person was in terrible and unceasing emotional pain, and the impossibility of sharing or articulating this pain was itself a component of the pain and a contributing factor in its essential horror.”

The two pieces together can allow us to think about art that stretches our capacity for empathy, sometimes quite painfully.

7:30p / $12** / tickets and more info

**class is $12, but don’t worry, if you’re just coming to hang out, have dinner or have a drink, Nowadays is free as usual