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David Foster Wallace on Planet Trillaphon

March 20, 2013

“I’ve been on antidepressants for, what, about a year now, and I suppose I feel as if I’m pretty qualified to tell what they’re like. They’re fine, really, but they’re fine in the same way that, say, living on another planet that was warm and comfortable and had food and fresh water would be fine: it would be fine, but it wouldn’t be good old Earth, obviously. I haven’t been on Earth now for almost a year, because I wasn’t doing very well on Earth. I’ve been doing somewhat better here where I am now, on the planet Trillaphon, which I suppose is good news for everyone involved.”

The repetitions and played-up quaintness here give the sense of a consciousness that has been lulled into congeniality. But as the story unfolds, and the imprecisions come into focus, the narrator comes to see that depression is not “just sort of really intense sadness, like what you feel when your very good dog dies, or when Bambi’s mother gets killed in Bambi”. Rather, it’s a kind of auto-immune deficiency of the self:

“All this business about people committing suicide when they’re ‘severely depressed;’ we say, ‘Holy cow, we must do something to stop them from killing themselves!’ That’s wrong. Because all these people have, you see, by this time already killed themselves, where it really counts. By the time these people swallow entire medicine cabinets or take naps in the garage or whatever, they’ve already been killing themselves for ever so long. When they ‘commit suicide,’ they’re just being orderly.”

Excerpt from a text by Thomas Meaney at TSL. Continue THERE

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