[FIRST PUBLISHED IN INPRESS MAGAZINE 27.04.2011]
There are a series of objects and events, and they seem to want to make sense of each other.
|David Foster Wallace, The Pale King. Courtesy Penguin Group.|
David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King is sitting on an upturned box in my living room – a bone white block looking like the telephone directory of a small but perfectly-Protestant Alabamian town. I have yet to collect the nerve to open the thing.
In 1996, Wallace spent three days on the set of Lost Highway, to watch David Lynch work and to furnish an article for Premiere magazine. When Wallace arrived he was met by the sight of Lynch taking a piss on a stunted pine tree – it turned out D. Lynch was a chain coffee drinker and the production couldn’t afford the time it would take for Mr Lynch to trudge back to the toilet trailer every time his bladder maxed out. Lynch made his film and he watered the plants. Wallace wrote his piece and about the pace that David Lynch worked, “exponentially busier than everybody else”, and in his three days on set Wallace never once spoke to his subject.
Two weeks ago I stepped into a small depression in the road while trying to get into the passenger side of my car; it was dark, I rolled my ankle and put my weight on the wrong side of left foot. Cursing, holding the bones like a busted Easter egg, I fell inside the car to the sound of the driver’s roaring laughter. Looking back to the road I saw the shadow of something I must have dropped, and picking it up and into the weak interior light, I saw it was an enormous pair of dirty blue underpants, certainly not mine. This made the laughter louder.
On the twenty-first of April, 1819, John Keats wrote the first version of ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ in a letter to his brother George. “Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms / Alone and palely loitering?” An editor would later, amongst other defendable changes, switch “knight-at-arms” to “wretched wight”, and so watered-down the unfashionable gothic image. Keats wrote of a dream, of being visited by a lover and by “pale kings and princes”. The pale here was death-pale.
|John William Waterhouse, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, 1893.|
Returning home on 12 September, 2008, Karen Green found David Foster Wallace, her husband, dead, having hung himself. A long while later she made a Forgiveness Machine. It was seven feet long and made of plastic, and worked by feeding a piece of paper into a vacuum pipe at one of its ends. You wrote what needed forgiveness on the paper. Karen never used the contraption herself.
On the twenty-first of April, 2011, Jamie Hutchings’ new record, Avalon Cassettes, is in my letterbox when I arrive home. I put it on and he sings to me – so perfectly he sings, “I get sick of lighting candles to look impressive in the dark.”
I’m going to carry my broken foot to the living room and begin to read The Pale King: a simple book.