Art Finds a Way to Take Care Of You

And these country musics that are just so—you know, “Baby since you’ve left I can’t live, I’m drinking all the time.” And I remember just being real impatient with it. Until I’d been living here about a year. And all of a sudden I realized, what if you just imagined that this absent lover they’re singing to is just a metaphor? And what they’re really singing to is themselves, or to God, you know? “Since you’ve left I’m so empty I can’t live, my life has no meaning.” That in a weird way, they’re incredibly existentialist songs. That have the patina of the absent, of the romantic shit on it, just to make it salable… But that if you cock your ear and listen real close—that it’s deep, you know?… That we find, that art finds a way to take care of you, and take part. Kind of despite itself.

— David Foster Wallace, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself


One Response

  1. It’s always good to see a quote from the great late DFW. It is our loss when we look away from songs or poems because they seem maudlin to us, not knowing that art finds a way to contaminate even the must humble things. Scholars in ancient China disliked the official anthologies of poetry because they tended to include “I love my mommy”, “I love my country” and “I miss my wife” kind of poems. To quote a couple: “Early spring separation, the son is leaving for school/how many nights it took the mother to knit that coat he’s wearing/…all the green inside one blade of grass is little gratitude for all the sunshine of one spring” and “So cold at night it wakes me up/I look up and see the moon in the sky/I look down and see frost on the ground/I lay down my head/and dream that I’m back home”.

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