David Foster Wallace didn’t write romances, and this article I’m about to link to doesn’t talk about romance novels, so in context it has little to do with the general subject of this here hot pink wunderblog, except for one little thing: Wallace’s commencement address as reprinted in the Wall Street Journal talks about choosing to think, choosing to engage one’s mind outside the petty, petulant self-absorbed auto-pilot, and finding ways to care about other people:
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day….
It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars—compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff’s necessarily true: The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship…
Since this here hot pink wunderblog is about romance, and the literature that examines it over and over, and the plots that are filled deliberately with stories of two people learning to care about one another, the act of reading a romance can often remind me that the world isn’t circling on an axis around me and my problems, and that if I had to choose a worship, as Wallace discusses in that speech, I’d like to think I’d choose to worship happiness and romance novels are part of that choice. Thanks, Mr. Wallace, for the reminder. I’m off to find me another romance.