23.12.10

David Foster Wallace: Fate, Time and Language

American novelist and academic presents an essay on free will
David Foster Wallace, Fate, Time and Language
While David Foster Wallace is known to many for his experimental fiction (perhaps most notably, Infinite Jest), he also gained recognition as a writer on literature and philosophy. Since his tragic death in 2008, aged 46, his writing on figures such as David Lynch and Franz Kafka continues to draw interest from the wider academic community.

Columbia University Press have delved deeper into the archive for this new publication. Released earlier this month, the book draws upon work composed well in advance of Wallace's fiction and criticism. Entitled Fate, Time and Language: An Essay on Free Will, this early work examines the philosophy of Richard Taylor, and holds clues to the writer Wallace would later become. The Columbia University Press website has more:
In 1962, the philosopher Richard Taylor used six commonly accepted presuppositions to imply that human beings have no control over the future. David Foster Wallace not only took issue with Taylor's method, which, according to him, scrambled the relations of logic, language, and the physical world, but also noted a semantic trick at the heart of Taylor's argument.

Fate, Time, and Language presents Wallace's brilliant critique of Taylor's work. Written long before the publication of his fiction and essays, Wallace's thesis reveals his great skepticism of abstract thinking made to function as a negation of something more genuine and real. He was especially suspicious of certain paradigms of thought-the cerebral aestheticism of modernism, the clever gimmickry of postmodernism-that abandoned "the very old traditional human verities that have to do with spirituality and emotion and community." As Wallace rises to meet the challenge to free will presented by Taylor, we witness the developing perspective of this major novelist, along with his struggle to establish solid logical ground for his convictions. This volume, edited by Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert, reproduces Taylor's original article and other works on fatalism cited by Wallace. James Ryerson's introduction connects Wallace's early philosophical work to the themes and explorations of his later fiction, and Jay Garfield supplies a critical biographical epilogue. [Read more]
Publisher's website: David Foster Wallace, Fate, Time and Language, (Columbia University Press, 2010)