Something in my veins is bloodier than blood

The scariest, yet most lovely moments in those great Wilco albums come when the band goes head to head with the electronic noise. The weird “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” blasts of feedback, looped sounds, colliding gears, exploding boilers, seething flames and billowing smoke. Awful and terrifying and hypnotic and, when you least expect it, beautiful.

On the verge of complete chaos, transcendence. The ideal pulls you out of bed in the morning and drags you through empty space, past the frigid planets and the endless pattern of aimless, world-destroying meteors, It’s the secret heart of everything, from “Louie, Louie” to Beethoven’s 9th to last-second 3-pointers, to “Friday Night Lights” to the tabloid narratives bonding the NY Times to the Nat’l Enquirer, and beyond.

Reading David Lipsky’s “Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself” just now, and with 80 pages down I’m still not sure if this is really a crystal portrait of the big brain (and wonderful spirit) on David Foster Wallace, or about the author’s possibly subconscious desire to insert himself into the tragic narrative of the brilliant artist who sees too clearly. Or maybe I just need to insert my interpretive, order-starved self into Lipsky’s journalistic narrative. Whatever, the main thing is hearing DFW’s voice again, and seeing exactly how he had structured his own internal battle between appetite and discipline, self and other, chaos and order. In a sense Lipsky serves as a walking projection of the darker impulses: striving, moving, needing, smoking, wanting more and more. DFW was determined to move somewhere beyond all of that. And he nearly made it. Or so it seemed, until he killed himself.

Transcendence back to chaos. The last second shot hits the rim and caroms over the backboard and out into the crowd. The album doesn’t work. The story has the wrong lead. The missing kid is still missing. The Honey Nut Shredded Wheat vanishes, only to be replaced by some horrible vanilla/almond concoction. Some days I gauge my entire existence in terms of once-loved, now-vanished products.

Another day and another orbit through dark, mysterious skies. Chaos persists. Transcendence must be out there somewhere. Move faster, reach for more. Maybe all we need is a shot in the arm. Somewhere between impossible Germany and unlikely Japan. Listen for the noise and dive in. Let it wash over your head. Kick your way upwards, feel your muscles pushing against the crazy currents. You’re about to reach the surface, you can feel it just beyond your fingertips. The missing kid is up there. Jeff Tweedy, Coach Taylor, David Foster Wallace. You end up becoming yourself, and if you’re just extremely lucky that’s enough.

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