David Foster Wallace’s Something To Do With Paying Attention

Doing taxes before the computer, public domain, image credit

Shape Rotators Vs Theorycels in 70s Chicago

The Irrationality of Rationality

The book is peripherally about tax. I’m tempted to say, despite his aforementioned lack of moral or political thinking, tax is nevertheless a perfect Wallace theme. And the reason it is is because it shows us both the genuine usefulness of rationality as a tool of understanding the world, and its weakness.

‘Tidy your room’, ‘Facts don’t care about your feelings’, the enlightenment, CRT, rationalists and post-rats

Here’s my tentative but ambitious thesis: much of contemporary life, especially as it pertains to the ‘culture wars’, can be explained in terms of these two attitudes to reason Wallace can be seen to bring into tension. His perspective show that it’s taxonomically difficult to categorize all the belligerents to the war (after all, Peterson and Shapiro are aligned in culture war space but arguably land on different sides of the reason vs not-reason dichotomy). Moreover, and moving from description to prescription, I think Wallace is right about what he says about the limits of reason, and accordingly I think we ought to take positions in the culture war aligned with that insight (second only to never thinking or speaking about culture wars or the many, well, wastoids discussion of which requires interacting with.)

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Matthew McKeever

Matthew McKeever

Novella "Coming From Nothing" at @zer0books (bitly.com/cfnextract). Academic philosophy at: http://mipmckeever.weebly.com/