A long and self-indulgent post that has very little to do with running and which raises more questions than gives answers, sorry about that.
I've been working my way at intervals through David Foster Wallace's The Pale King . The book, like much of his writing, is a meditation on the ways in which we keep ourselves from encountering reality, our selves, and each other. DFW's writing is simultaneously penetrating and distancing. He shows us directly the pathos of reflective thought--how it is always reflective, never direct--always skimming over its object. His work sits squarely in the genre of postmodern meta writing because he takes the constant indirection of experience as his direct object of inquiry. But unlike other postmodern authors in which indirection becomes something like a game having stakes only for the art-world, for DFW indirection is a concrete strategy for his characters; it is a learned habit, one that protects them from experience, sheltering them in a state of interiority that is somehow both fecund and infertile. Click, and it will get bigger. To read DFW is to realize simultaneously