While a graduate student at Illinois State, I was fortunate enough to have DFW as a creative writing instructor. He was our English department's rock star and what we all aspired to be. It's difficult to reconcile his image in our eyes with the deeply depressed individual he really was. By coincidence, I was recently assigned by an Indianapolis newspaper to cover an upcoming appearance by Wallace at Butler University. Instead, I ended up writing his obituary. It was the least enviable event I've ever been assigned to cover.
I read this morning that he had battled debilitating depression most of his life, and just last year discontinued his medication because of the side effects. This was disturbing to me as someone who battles depression myself (though I'm nowhere near as brilliant as DFW) without meds. This is a tragic loss to the literary world and to the world in general.
Although I don't have anything like his talent, I had a similar experience with medication that caused me to become suicidal and it caused mania and started a downward spiral that led to disability retirement and a brief hospitalization.
David Foster Wallace had been depressed for many years, but he had aggressively pursued treatment from what it sounded like, taking medication for a long time. And then he began to experience side effects that were severe. He followed a doctor's orders to go off the medication and a downward spiral started.
I think sometimes when medication treatments go wrong, the patient has some blame. For example I did some stupid stuff like overspending. But then there are other things like such as severe depression that does not respond to treatment. In this case considering that person to be "bad" or "responsible" for taking his own life may not be fair.
We are at the beginning of treatments for serious depression and I personally have been to a place where I needed ECT b/c nothing else would work. It lifted me out of depression temporarily, until other medication and talk therapy could help. Unfortunately it did not appear to have similar effects for him. ECT seems to fail for a lot of people, which is part of why it's usually considered a last resort.
What I am trying to say is that he was in a bad place and he appeared to have done everything he could to avoid this. It is a real tragedy.
I greatly enjoyed his essays, and found DFW, in the pages of his book-length interview with David Lipinsky, to be an intelligent, engaging, and quite possibly very likeable human being. Sadly, I can't find it within me to be an enthusiastic supporter of his fictive literary output--I simply don't feel that the creation of, and spinning tales about, imaginary universes was ever his strong point (witness 'Infinite Jest'). However the art of the engagingly spun and entertainingly wry essay is certainly the poorer for his loss to it--and the sadness and shock that his family must still be feeling even now is a sorrowful thing to contemplate. RIP, DFW.
Hung emerged as pp. 16c. in northern England dialect, and hanged endured only in legal language (which tends to be conservative) and metaphors extended from it (I'll be hanged). Verb- hanged (archaic and law) Simple past tense and past participle of hang. Where would pedants be without being able to make a distinction?
You accuse me of pedantry, while insisting you have the correct usage!?!? "A pedant is a person who is excessively concerned with formalism and precision, or who makes a show of his or her learning." Next try looking up "hypocrite."
Wit worthy of D. Wallace! Thank you for the much needed humor! Personally, I used two seconds of time to google "hanged" in order to counter pedantry disguised as a compliment. As a result, I get accused of pedantry myself. Oh, well...