Tuesday, September 16, 2008

David Foster Wallace: 1962-2008

As many of you may already know, David Foster Wallace passed away this past weekend in tragic fashion. He was a brilliant novelist as well as an insightful cultural critic. He also was an accomplished tennis player and an avid fan of the game.

Although an NBA blog, I have always tried to recognize great sportswriting wherever it may arise. And Wallace's was excellent. His piece for the New York Times Sports Magazine, Roger Federer as Religious Experience, is one of the best reflections on a pro-athlete I have ever read. Wallace understands the aesthetic potential of sports in a way few writers do. I'll let his words speak for themselves:
Beauty is not the goal of competitive sports, but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty. The relation is roughly that of courage to war.

The human beauty we’re talking about here is beauty of a particular type; it might be called kinetic beauty. Its power and appeal are universal. It has nothing to do with sex or cultural norms. What it seems to have to do with, really, is human beings’ reconciliation with the fact of having a body.

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