September 20, 2016

"The writer David Foster Wallace was once assigned to compose an essay on the resplendent, mindless pleasures of a luxury cruise ship."

"He reported instead feeling profound despair and emptiness in the face of so much unfathomable pampering."

Writes WaPo staff writer Monica Hesse about the newly opened Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. and I'd just like to say:

1. You're not David Foster Wallace, and you couldn't write like David Foster Wallace if you tried — if you (I want to say) killed yourself — and referring to something he was able to do is not even trying.

2. David Foster Wallace was horribly depressed, so the fact that he felt "profound despair and emptiness" somewhere doesn't say all that much about a place.

3. David Foster Wallace had endless fascinating things to say about that cruise ship — here, see for yourself — and it's just infuriating to read it summarized in a few words in a hack piece of journalism that seems designed to take a shot at a political candidate the reader is expected to hate reflexively.

4. Nothing was "unfathomable" to David Foster Wallace. He fathomed the hell out of everything.

5. Very expensive hotels are fancy and posh. That's utterly banal. If you look into the depths of your own banality and have something fresh to say about that, you might begin to deserve to invoke the name of David Foster Wallace — who, by the way, didn't put down other people for being tourists with a bit of extra money to spend on something that excited or comforted them with the promise of luxury.

105 comments:

mockturtle said...

Personally, I've never seen the point of an ocean cruise but--hey!--it keeps those people off the road! Some want luxury and some want adventure. As 'Rosie', the bush pilot said in Never Cry Wolf, most people are bored to death and the antidote for boredom is adventure.

Maybe there is so much depression today because we don't have to fight for survival. Not enough adrenaline [epinephrine]. Or perhaps too little physical exercise.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

You're not David Foster Wallace, and you couldn't write like David Foster Wallace if you tried — if you (I want to say) killed yourself — and referring to something he was able to do is not even trying.

So when you referred to her killing herself, were you not even trying?

Ann Althouse said...

It's a metaphor.

Laslo Spatula said...

Althouse: Watch "The End of the Tour", if you haven't already.

I am The Replacement Laslo.

n.n said...

The problem is not a "luxury cruise ship" moment, but rather spoiled child syndrome that is a first-order cause of developmental retardation. While both are evidence of a disconnect with reality, it is the latter which is sustained and dysfunctional.

rhhardin said...

I went to Europe on a student ship (Ascania) but spent all my time in the radio room. 5 guys to a room, powdered milk.

The radio guys let me call WCC for traffic. There wasn't any.

End of essay.

buwaya said...

"Maybe there is so much depression today because we don't have to fight for survival. Not enough adrenaline [epinephrine]. Or perhaps too little physical exercise."

Good point. Maybe there should be more of this -
http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/UnrCur.shtml

"The Unrest-Cure" - Saki

"An Unrest-cure? I've never heard of such a thing."

"You've heard of Rest-cures for people who've broken down under stress of too much worry and strenuous living; well, you're suffering from overmuch repose and placidity, and you need the opposite kind of treatment."

rehajm said...

A most resplendent burn. Still snarfing over #2.

Bill Peschel said...

I thought the same about cruises until we won a four-day Disney cruise in the Caribbean. We had three kids at the time, so we parked the infant with the grandparents and took our four and 10-year-old (we only had four tickets).

It was heaven. The entertainment was Disney (of course), but it was an enormous relief from the pressures of parenting, infant care, work, and keeping the house maintained. We could eat anything, anytime. The food was very good (I tried escargot at one meal), and I could go topside at 2 a.m., get a good cup of coffee, and stand at the rail and watch the ocean.

We only got off the ship once, to spend the day on the private beach.

When we were dropped off in Orlando, we stopped at the airport cafe and ordered lunch. The food was what you'd expect and the coffee was dishwater tinted brown. I was thisclose to crying.

The only thing that bothered me was that a high proportion of the staff were from various non-white countries, which gave me that imperialistic feeling (this was in 2001, BTW). The only thing I could do was tip as much as I could afford.

Maybe if we went back it won't recapture that feeling. In fact, I'm sure it won't, since my youngest is 17. But at that moment, the cruise was exactly what we needed. It was the only family trip we took that wasn't to a relative's house, and years later I still think fondly of those times. It's become my Madeline.

glenn said...

I got all the sea cruises I'm ever going to take out of my system when I did my military service over 50 years ago. But it's nice when another media moron from the WAPO self identifies.

coupe said...

It's been my experience, that people who use three names are:

1) convicted killers.
2) flaming types.

I asked my mother why I didn't have a middle name. She said it was to protect me.

I thought it was a Catholic thing, but later I found out (from my neighbor) that other kinds of people habitent le quartier...

Nonapod said...

This article and discussion has gotten me thinking about elitism.

There was a time, not too long ago, that being called an "elite" or being considered part of an elite social class and/or an elite intellectual class was considered very high praise. But these days I find myself and others using the term "elite" in a derogatory way. I think that's unfortunate.

Donald Trump is an elite (at least in terms of wealth) who talks like a more regular person. He's behaves like new money. He seems to be more connected with non-elites than any other Presidential candidate in recent memory. Every President since Bush the Elder was Harvard graduate. Most importantly, he doesn't openly express the disdain for the non-elite like this WaPo writer does.

The danger of being elite is the separation from the rest of humanity that comes with it. Arrogance and conceit are disturbingly easy to fall into when you're part of a small group. The warfare between the moneyed elite and the middle class commoner seems to have defined American politics since the 2008 crash and the election of Barack Obama. It lead to the Tea Party and Donald Trump. It's weird that so many people who are part of the elite don't seem to really get why they are disliked and why behaving the way they do only angers people more.

Dude1394 said...

Democrats are a hateful bunch.

nb said...

OK we're convinced. Wife and I shall definitely check into new Trump hotel in DC for a depressingly depraved weekend.

Luke Lea said...

The trouble with a luxury cruise is that you can't get off.

Roughcoat said...

I'm not really familiar with Wallace. I just read his Wikipedia bio. He seem a tortured soul.

I've never gone on a cruise but I have done a lot of island-hopping in the Aegean, on ferries and cargo ships. Pure heaven, the best times I've ever known.

Laslo Spatula said...

"It's been my experience, that people who use three names are:

1) convicted killers.
2) flaming types."

There was already a writer named David Wallace. Added the Foster -- his mother's maiden name, I believe.

I am The Replacement Laslo.

Patrick said...

At long last I have started to read DFW'S writing. I read his essay on Tracy Austin's "memoir," and just started The Broom of the System. Oh my, so I enjoy some of those sentences. Very long, and they go in and on until you forget where it was going until all of a sudden toy are there, often confused, so you go back to read it again.

I also watched the video of him on Charlie Ross. Maybe it was an act , although I doubt it, but he seemed very hard on himself, and careful not to disparage others unduly. I look forward to my 30 minutes or so of reading - I really am enjoying that book.

traditionalguy said...

Good cruise ships that cost $2000 per week are wonderful and well organized trips to take with everything you could need.

Then there are the the $8,000 per week cruise ships. They are another world, where you must let astute and polite servants do everything for you. And that is a learned skill. It is living like English Aristocrats, Redux.

The Trump Hotels, like the Ritz Carltons, the Four Seasons, and the Mandarin Orientals sell the experience.

David Begley said...

The MSM will use any angle to attack Trump. WaPo just trying to be innovative with the DFW approach.

rhhardin said...

Epstein did a podcast on luxury cruises and class systems and the economic advantages of the arrangement. Somewhere.

The classes subsidize each other by sharing fixed costs like the ship.

mockturtle said...

The most luxurious accommodations I've experienced were at the Hotel Okura in Tokyo. While not a fan of luxury, I did appreciate the Japanese version.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I'm not sure I really got the theme of the piece. Trump isn't really a man of the people? He's gauche? The people he is a man of are gauche? I (the writer) am really smart and clever and definitely not of the people? I (the writer) don't have enough sense to know that hotel rooms are priced according to availability and more will be available a few days after the grand opening of a hotel, especially as construction had not yet been completed on some floors? Trump should lose money because letting people rent rooms in a hotel where some floors are not completed is gauche? I just don't know.

Roughcoat said...

My Irish great-grandfather and great grandmother came over on the S.S. Henry Clay in steerage. A family of 11, poor as Catholic church mice. They went straight from New York to Decatur Illinois and never got near a large body of water again. I guess they'd had their fill of "cruises," LOL!

mockturtle said...

RW, snobbery takes many forms and both the WaPo and the NYT exhibit as many forms as possible at every opportunity.

rehajm said...

The warfare between the moneyed elite and the middle class commoner seems to have defined American politics since the 2008 crash and the election of Barack Obama.

Exactly. Though I expect it's a political construct the Clinton's do not care to exploit. They are more interested in the equivalence of intellectual and monetary elitism and aspirational wealth as measure of success. Sure, they'll take advantage of class struggle when the opportunity arises but don't expect them to extend the Obama doctrine of wealth and inequality. Expect something more like Trump. Or given their advanced ages something like Robin Leach, Champagne Wishes! The 99% are leaving The White House on the Helicopter on inauguration day.

Sebastian said...

"I've also learned the difference between "rolling" in heavy seas and "pitching" in heavy seas." Nothing would depress me more than the prospect of having to learn that.

Mac McConnell said...

The author never answered the question, is the new DC Trump hotel luxurious and expensive enough for Michelle Obama's taste and the taxpayers' dime.

Henry said...

From the article: Staying at the Trump International ... prompts a meditation on what it means to be wealthy. Or, what Americans think it means to be wealthy. Or, what some Americans think it means to be a certain kind of wealthy...

...but enough about me. What do you think of my new attitude?

Michael said...

So our "journalist" discovers that Trump hotels are a bit gauche. Wow.

Because there is nothing more educational than reading the words of someone getting paid by the New York Times telling you what is posh and what is not posh. Because the Times does not pay for posh and the posh do not work for the Times. So the snobbery is pretend snobbery because she is not a regular at five star hotels gauche or not. You can bet on it.

tim maguire said...

The over the top pampering is great (they make up your room twice a day so you have fresh towels and a turned down bed in the evening even if you went for a swim and then took a nap). But you know what I love most about cruises? Every single person who works on the boat acts like seeing you is the absolute best part of their day. And not just when you get on, the whole trip! Even the room service people who weren't assigned to our room knew my daughter's name.

I have no idea how they keep it up day after day.

Michael said...

Ah, Post. I meant the Washington Post which, like the NYT, is not huge in the pay department thus depriving the snobs of the cash to stay in posh and snobby places thus permitting the snobs to view posh places as gauche. Except the good ones. The Savoy is both posh and not gauche. Ditto the Alvear Palace, the Ritz Madrid, Claridges.

EMD said...

Our Disney cruise experience was wonderful. Service was unparalleled. I would do it again, but to a different location.

As for DFW, I am enjoying the hell out of Infinite Jest. He has a way with story that doesn't feel forced (like a Foer sometimes does.) That said, he was no futurist (movies on cartridges? people disguising themselves with elaborate masks rather than something digital. He completely whiffed on the wireless/mobile technology revolution. In a way, though, it makes it even more interesting and funny.

EMD said...

"Staying at the Plaza/Waldorf Astoria/Fairmont Miramar/Four Seasons Beverly Hills ... prompts a meditation on what it means to be wealthy. Or, what Americans think it means to be wealthy. Or, what some Americans think it means to be a certain kind of wealthy..."

Hmmm. Seems the same to me. I don't think Trump means that much in the luxury hotel context.

David said...

Monica is going to need a safe space after that.

She's a Bryn Mawr graduate with a graduate degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins. (A strange, though probably lucrative, degree program for Hopkins.)

Basically schools for snobs these days, unfortunately.

Education does not always result in improvement.

Diamondhead said...

Her description of the tourists from Milwaukee and Sacramento with their sad middle class attire reminded me of Harry Reid's claim that he could literally smell the tourists as he made his way around the capitol.

I note also: "Monica Hesse...frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two." When did using the word "intersection" begin to denote serious pretension?

George Grady said...

Nothing was "unfathomable" to David Foster Wallace. He fathomed the hell out of everything.

Having only read his "Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity", I can assure you that David Foster Wallace emphatically did not fathom the hell out of the modern mathematical view of infinity. It's rare to see such twaddle confidently stated while dressed up in the baroque prose DFW is apparently so famous for. I mean, people confidently state twaddle all the time; they just don't usually bother to gussy it up quite the same way he did.

Maybe there were other topics that he wrote about that he actually knew something about, and maybe they're worth reading, but yeesh.

Brando said...

Partisan crap aside, what are Trump properties really like in comparison with other "luxury" products? (I'm not referring to crap like "Trump Steaks" or "Trump Vodka" but rather the products that he first got famous for--his buildings, hotels, etc.). The sort of people I know who can afford to stay in such places never really mention his hotels or resorts or golf clubs, even though I grew up near some of them--the impression I got was that those properties weren't really considered.

Has anyone here (who wouldn't let their opinion be colored by love or hate for Trump himself) stayed in one of his properties, and if so what are your impressions? Are they high quality or ripoff, or classy or trashy?

Amadeus 48 said...

May God bless you for writing this one, Althouse.

Brando said...

"It's been my experience, that people who use three names are:

1) convicted killers.
2) flaming types."

What about two names plus a middle initial? Like Michael J. Fox or William F. Buckley?

"I asked my mother why I didn't have a middle name. She said it was to protect me.

I thought it was a Catholic thing, but later I found out (from my neighbor) that other kinds of people habitent le quartier..."

Most Catholics have confirmation names, though.

And for some people their middle name is actually their mother's maiden name (Richard Milhous Nixon, John Fitzgerald Kennedy). I like the idea of a middle name in case your first name sucks.

Diamondhead said...

She is right though that if you're a non-wealthy person spending the night in a very expensive hotel, you feel like it's a waste to sleep through any of it. I imagine it's the same for the people who spend many thousands of dollars on a first class ticket overseas, but of course if you have really enough money to spend that much for 12 hours in a comfortable seat, you may not have that problem.

robother said...

Monica writes a thing or two because she's read a thing or two.

buwaya said...

"which gave me that imperialistic feeling"

I love that imperialistic feeling.
If I were one of you, I would hang out at Coronado in San Diego and stare at the fleet and gloat.

tim in vermont said...

Reading that essay is like trying to eat a gallon of the finest chocolate mousse in a single sitting.

And the Trump Tower on Central Park may be a little tacky, but don't miss a meal at Jean Georges downstairs if somebody offers to take you there.

We stayed once at a world famous luxury resort, it was fabulous. It was something like $2,500 a night. Then we went and had dinner at a not so famous luxury resort. The rooms there were $5,000 a night. They met their guests at the airport in Land Rovers, like Jurassic Park, I think the scale just keeps going up. By the pool a lady who looked to be in her late forties and pretty good for her age was accompanied by a man who looked to be in his mid twenties. She had a leather wallet of some kind that looked like it came from some workshop in heaven, or maybe the Devil had purchased her soul with it. She wore the most beautiful jewelry. He just had the gorgeous smile nature gave him and a body he earned at the gym. Cruise ships are not very high on the luxury scale. That is what makes it so fun to make fun of them, they are bridge and tunnel types, deplorable!

rehajm said...

Has anyone here (who wouldn't let their opinion be colored by love or hate for Trump himself) stayed in one of his properties, and if so what are your impressions? Are they high quality or ripoff, or classy or trashy?

I've been a guest at two properties, NY and Doral. Others I know have tried Turnberry. My impressions: Trump's invested big $$. Rooms and public spaces feel fresh and new. Combination of NY classy and Trump trashy (he has a disturbing taste for waterfalls and fountains, Grecian tile roofs and statuary). Quality of amenities is definitely on par with Waldorf, Ritz and Four Seasons except for dining- In FL they've teamed with some forgettable KC steak house but the casual dining is top notch. Service is clean, smart and NYC professional. Beds are WAY comfy. There ARE Ring Pops in the mini bar! Feels like the details are Ivanka's doing. The Trumpness is all a bit tongue in cheek- some people get it some people don't.

Also of Note- they've emailed me several times this year with substantial discounts off of stays 30% +, suggesting low occupancy. I don't know if it's due to world events or a Trump boycott...

Wilbur said...

I've been on a couple of cruises; just basic leave-out-of-South-Florida-and-visit-tropical-ports-of-call-for-a-week type of cruises.

1. There's very few reasons to get off the ship at any of these ports of call. They're tourist traps or butt-ugly third world ports. I can see tourist traps or near-third world conditions in Miami should I choose to.
2. The food is pretty decent. They try VERY hard at menus, presentation and service but when your fixing dinner for that many people you can't avoid steam tables.
3. If you like to drink, sunbathe, go to clubs or casinos you can easily have a good time on the ship. I can do all these things year-round at home, too.
4. The service people on the ship are invariably pleasant and eager to please. They're happy to have the job and send most of the money back home.

mockturtle said...

rehajm, would you call it kitsch? Or more refined than that?

Titus said...

Excellent comment Althouse. I would like to see you write for the NY Times after you retire. Wouldn't that be fab? This kind of stuff too would be awesome. I could see you on the Times Sunday Marquee along with Maureen Dowd-totally divine.

Almost as divine as Bette Midler, divine, opening in Hello Dolly this spring!

MikeR said...

"Reading that essay is like trying to eat a gallon of the finest chocolate mousse in a single sitting." Awesome. I feel just the same way.

Joe said...

David Foster Wallace was a depressed narcissist. Why is he a reference to anything but depressed narcissism?

Titus said...

I would never go on a cruise. The thought of being on a big crowded boat with strangers makes my skin crawl.

Titus said...

You would need to broaden your audience if you were to be successful at The Times.

Your focus can not be all on liberals bad and elite and condescending. You would need to throw the pubes over the boat a little more.

Make it happen girl!

rehajm said...

mockturtle said...
rehajm, would you call it kitsch? Or more refined than that?


Hmmm...In the rooms I'll say generally no. Furnishings and design are neat, clean and mostly tasteful. I think gold is tacky, but to each his own. Fortunately in the rooms there's not much of that....It's mostly the public areas where there's a bit of 'kitsch'- waterfalls, pictures of golf pros, abundance of gold trim, gaudy statuary, crap from Trump's past, Trump OCC chopper, etc.

Sam L. said...

I've been on 3 cruise ships. The room we had on the first reminded me of the classic Marx Bros. scene, less the crowd. The food was everything we'd heard it was. Same for the next two, but the cabin was muuuuuuuuuuuuuuch larger. No commplaints.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

I remember being in Ann Arbor in April 2009 and seeing a young college student out with a group of friends. He had his head in Consider the Lobster, and I wanted to warn him, that's not going to turn out well for the lobster, or for David Foster Wallace. I did pick a copy of The Pale King off the shelf of the Cambridge Recycling Center back in June, but I haven't opened it yet.

DougWeber said...

One thing to be said for Trump Tower, it has a large, clean, accessible public restroom. A vital necessity in our modern world. Hard to find usually.,

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Also, I doubt very much that DFW was engaged to write a puff piece on luxury cruises as the essay was published in Harper's.

Gk1 said...

And this will hurt Trump how? A luxury hotel is too luxurious? Someone needs to do an intervention at the WAPO. For a candidate that is so obviously unfit for the office they are reduced to trying to hit him with any stick they can find. Its just pathetic at this point. And we have another month and a half to go!?!?

Left Bank of the Charles said...

It will be fun to watch the front (and back) door of that hotel during the Trump administration. The bigger favor you want, the more people you should bring with you to Washington and the bigger suites you better reserve for your entourage. Where are you staying? That will be the first question at every meeting with President Trump. How are you enjoying your stay? will be the second question. Can I get you a bigger room? will be the third.

Chip said...

This seems like an awfully strong reaction to single passage from an otherwise anodyne article.

Paul Snively said...

Every time I think the Right's observation about Leftism being "the politics of envy" is at least a bit overheated, some hack like this endorses the point, double-underscoring it in blood-red ink.

Paul Snively said...

Brando: What about two names plus a middle initial? Like Michael J. Fox...

Michael Andrew Fox had to pick a middle initial upon joining the Screen Actors Guild, which requires that names be unique for credit purposes, and there was already a "Michael Fox" in the Guild. Mr. Fox decided he didn't like the pretentiousness of "Michael A. Fox" ("Michael, a fox," when that phrase was more popular in describing someone attractive), and so chose "J." instead.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Had an interview at an apartment in the Trump Parc building in 1989. It was very nice.

coupe said...

Brando said...Most Catholics have confirmation names, though.

In my case I was named after a Saint (Saint Etienne who was stoned, but not by rock and roll and drugs, just by rocks...).

Paul Snively said...

coupe: (Saint Etienne who was stoned, but not by rock and roll and drugs, just by rocks...)

It seems likely that Saint Etienne was stoned and rolled or drug somewhere...

Danno said...

Apparently Monica is overly impressed with the lives of the rich and famous. So DC and WaPo are a good match for her.

I prefer millionaires of the "Millionaire Next Door" variety.

TWW said...

I've been around the world on luxury cruises. I love my privilege.

TML said...

Pissed off, aggrieved AA is the very best AA. We've done four cruises. Loved every one. All Royal Caribbean. They are exceptional floating hotels with great customer/guest care all around. The snootiness surrounding cruises baffles me. Particularly because I was once snooty about cruising. No longer.

TML said...

OK, let me qualify. I read this blog every day. I didn't mean to imply that Ann is angry. Just that her dudgeon is delightful. I enjoy almost everything she writes. She and Meade should take a cruise. So much fun. We did a Christmas cruise and the kids loved it. All three of them.

Wilbur said...

You can be as rich as all get-out. Just be comfortable in your skin and feel no compulsion to impress others. And feel no undue guilt about enjoying what matters to you. And quietly help some less-fortunate than you to improve themselves.

Then ... you have a good chance to be wealthy and happy.

jimbino said...

I crossed the Atlantic twice by freighter in the 70s, NYC to Antwerp on a Norwegian vessel, 10 days for $150, Lisbon to NYC on a Yugoslavian one, 10 days for $250.

Included were the freshest food and best bread, wining and dining and dancing with the officers every night. Days of bridge and bliss. I can't imagine a cruise could be better.

Laslo Spatula said...

My wife, she likes to go on cruises. Likes the water, the sun, the umbrellas in the drinks. I like all of this too, at least somewhat. Don't necessarily need the umbrellas.
The problem is, when I am on cruises I throw up. Constantly.

They have given me seasick meds, vertigo meds, you-name-it meds, I throw up.

I'm the guy who threw up on the deck by your kids and their toys.

I'm the guy who threw up at the banquet table right by the sushi.

I'm the guy who shit himself at the Luau doing the limbo.

Okay, that last one was different, but it falls under the general category of not being able to politely control bodily functions.

I have been asked nicely to stay in my room, but I paid for the cruise, I'm going to enjoy all of it, even if I vomit a little along the way. And occasionally shit myself while wearing white shorts and sandals.

Laslo would know where to go from here.

I am The Replacement Laslo.

Michael said...

Brando

I have stayed in Trump properties and find them not to my taste. I think they are a bit on the gaudy side. The service is very good but not to the standards of Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton or Mandarin or St. Regis or even Taj. The big chains have smoothed out the edges of anything gaudy.

I think of Trump hotels as more Las Vegas than London.

I travel almost constantly and stay whenever I can in these quality properties. I choose Trump last.

Paddy O said...

"If you look into the depths of your own banality"

This pretty much describes my last 20 years.

I was about to say something fresh, but then went and got a PhD instead. It buggered my writing style with academese and decorated my banality with florid prose.

But, it pays the bills, so there's that. And every once in a while, sometimes when I least expect it, I get a glimpse of something wonderful.

Being able to write well covers a multitude of sins and disguises banality as wisdom, leaving one adrift in despair. So, I might be safer not writing as well and struggling still to find my voice. I'm certainly happier.

Johnathan Birks said...

DFW certainly was a talented guy, a brilliant guy, deeply insecure and depressed. I doubt the WaPo even read the article she's referencing, let alone "Infinite Jest."
It's one of those cases where you wonder if psychoanalysis and/or antidepressants would've made him a happier person but a worse artist.

Fabi said...

I don't hold back when it comes to travel, and enjoy the Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental properties. I've never considered a Trump hotel, but his new DC venue is on my list.

wildswan said...

He's like a reverse monk - he's narrowed his life down to what you could find on a luxurious cruise ship and only speaks using those words, perceptions, encounters, keeps drilling in and in at them for deeper. But the cruise was set up for shallow, to exclude trouble and questions; it's for physically tired people, not depressives, tired of life. Still I liked the guy though he is the kind I do not like. What's more I got the feeling he liked the cruise in some way of his own. At least, I ended up hoping he liked it - somehow, some way, somewhere - you liked something, didn't you, Dave? You did stop talking about the sharks, I mean, didn't you? David Foster Wallace?

Mark said...

Now THAT is a smackdown.

mockturtle said...

Johnathan Birks mused: It's one of those cases where you wonder if psychoanalysis and/or antidepressants would've made him a happier person but a worse artist.

That's probably the case. So many artists are mentally and emotionally screwed up. I wouldn't like them as friends but I appreciate their work.

Laslo Spatula said...

" It's one of those cases where you wonder if psychoanalysis and/or antidepressants would've made him a happier person but a worse artist."

DFW was on anti-depressants for most of his work.

The sad part of the story is -- well-post Infinite J -- his doctor agreed that he could go off his meds.

Then it all came back.

Except now those same meds didn't work.

He tried other meds, and ECT. Couldn't get back.

I am The Replacement Laslo.

EMD said...

"It's been my experience, that people who use three names are:

1) convicted killers."

I hate to burst your bubble, but the reason killers use three names is because the media/law enforcement puts out all three (including middle) to provide clarity as to who they're looking for since many people have the same first and last names.

EDH said...

Kind of funny how many Althose commenters, flowing a piece of media criticism only tangentially related to luxury cruise travel, quickly used the opportunity to regale us with their own vacation slideshows.

At least back in the 1970s a host breaking out the projection screen gave you enough of a warning to say your good nights and excuse yourself.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I worked at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel for thirty-one years, until I retired last January. We tried very, very hard to see that all our guests enjoyed themselves, and if any of them felt profound despair and emptiness, it sure as hell wasn't our fault.

Laslo Spatula said...

There was a girl who loved David Foster Walace. Sure, she had boyfriends with "Infinite Jest" on the bookshelves, but she actually read it.

She read it, and wanted a man who could talk like David Foster Wallace to her.

She searched and searched, but everyone she met talked like bad comments on a blog no one bothered to read. Sure, they could talk first-person-shooters, but she wanted more.

She wanted footnotes whispered sweetly in her ear.

So she never found anyone.

Laslo would know where to go from here.

I am The Replacement Laslo.

traditionalguy said...

Why is everybody talking about Dallas/Ft Worth in the comments?

Sebastian said...

@George Grady (late): "David Foster Wallace emphatically did not fathom the hell out of the modern mathematical view of infinity. It's rare to see such twaddle confidently stated while dressed up in the baroque prose DFW is apparently so famous for. I mean, people confidently state twaddle all the time; they just don't usually bother to gussy it up quite the same way he did." This is actually a problem for many modern writers (of Serious LIterature). Most don't know anything in a world that runs on knowledge, applied by people who have it. For people with limited substantive or technical knowledge blogging is better: you can link, you can keep it short, and if you are lucky you have a group of commenters who can set things straight.

mockturtle said...

Why is everybody talking about Dallas/Ft Worth in the comments?

Because it is singularly self-destructive. Especially the baggage claim.

openidname said...

Blogger doesn't support emojis, so:

*picture of clapping hands*
*picture of clapping hands*
*picture of clapping hands*

Mark said...

Sebastian, can you provide a link? Thanks.

Big Mike said...

@David, I would say that young Monica is an example of a person who is credentialed, but no really educated.

Big Mike said...

not really educated ...

Some day I'll master proof reading. Really I will.

Sebastian said...

"Sebastian, can you provide a link? Thanks." Now, wait a minute . . .

J. Farmer said...

Isn't a lot of modern progressive left thinking based in people's hatred that other people don't want to make the same choices as they do?

Zach said...

David Foster Wallace was horribly depressed, so the fact that he felt "profound despair and emptiness" somewhere doesn't say all that much about a place.

Related point: David Foster Wallace was not even close to being the target demographic for a cruise ship. He's an overthinker, and the pleasures of a cruise ship are simple and superficial (on purpose!). How do you sell pampering to someone who doesn't want to be pampered?

Zach said...

All of the Megalines offer the same basic product-not a service or a set of services but more like a feeling: a blend of relaxation and stimulation, stressless indulgence and frantic tourism, that special mix of servility and condescension that's marketed under configurations of the verb "to pamper." This verb positively studs
the Megalines' various brochures: " as you've never been pampered before...


Previous comment was made before (re)reading the article. The cruise ship is offering seven days of pampering. DFW bears a grudge because they wouldn't let him interview the kitchen staff on the record. Not the target demographic.

Zach said...

And when J teach school
now I always teach Stephen Crane's horrific
"The Open Boat," and I get bent out of shape
when the kids think the story's dull or just a
jaunty adventure: I want them to suffer the
same marrow-level dread of the oceanic I've always
felt, the intuition of the sea as primordial
nada, bottomless depths inhabited by toothstudded
things rising angelically toward you.
This fixation came back with a long-repressed
vengeance on my Luxury Cruise


I repeat myself: not the target demographic.

Zach said...

I mean, if you were starting a cruise line dedicated to existential dread, you'd send a brochure to David Foster Wallace first thing. But I'm guessing it's a niche market.

Anne said...

More than any Trump policy or any outlined objective of a Trump administration, the snobs at WP and NYT fear to their marrow,the gold facets and bath fixtures found in Trump homes...the sense of new money, the perceived tacky.They care about this much more then nuke codes or abortion rights or whatever they are yammering about this new cycle.

Karl Nigbor said...

Bravo, Ms. Althouse, just bravo!!!

Brando said...

"I travel almost constantly and stay whenever I can in these quality properties. I choose Trump last."

Thanks Michael--that was the impression I got from most news reports. I always wondered what his hotels' target audience was (they're apparently expensive, but you rarely hear them mentioned in the same category as say Ritz).

"In my case I was named after a Saint (Saint Etienne who was stoned, but not by rock and roll and drugs, just by rocks...)."

Nice--my cousin went with "Dominick" which fully Italinified his name.

"Michael Andrew Fox had to pick a middle initial upon joining the Screen Actors Guild, which requires that names be unique for credit purposes, and there was already a "Michael Fox" in the Guild. Mr. Fox decided he didn't like the pretentiousness of "Michael A. Fox" ("Michael, a fox," when that phrase was more popular in describing someone attractive), and so chose "J." instead."

Good point--for actors that's often the case. William H. Macy likely had to go with his initial to differentiate from Bill Macy (who played Maude's husband).

"Also of Note- they've emailed me several times this year with substantial discounts off of stays 30% +, suggesting low occupancy. I don't know if it's due to world events or a Trump boycott..."

Interesting--I didn't figure on a boycott working, as his properties (the key ones--not the one-off brandings of cheaper products) tend to be for a smaller number of guests who can afford them, and I figure even if some rich guests are turned off by the politics enough people who aren't would fill those slots.

Rehajm--as to your impression of the hotels, how would you say they compare to say similarly priced hotels?

RigelDog said...

I read the DFW piece about taking the cruise and I'm so glad I did. Never read him before. Hilarious, and he also described how I felt about the 2 cruises I have taken in my life, including the moments of fear and despair experienced when looking out at the vastness of the ocean ,and the difficulty of interacting with the crew for fear of getting them into some kind of trouble when all you want is to make it easier for them.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

PJ O'Rourke: Ship of Fools

O'Rourke cruises the Volga with a tour sponsored by the Nation.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

rhhardin said...
Epstein did a podcast on luxury cruises and class systems and the economic advantages of the arrangement. Somewhere.

The classes subsidize each other by sharing fixed costs like the ship.


EconTalk: Richard Epstein on Cruises, First-Class Travel, and Inequality

virgil xenophon said...

Anne@1:39am hits it on the head and you're right, HoodlumDoodlum, that tour of the Volga article by P.J O'Rourke was an all-time classic. First appeared in an article in Harpers mag circa 1978, iirc..

virgil xenophon said...

PS: For those who never read the Volga cruise article, it was all about Nation readers singing the praises of the Soviet Union as the utopian wave of the future but who brought their own toilet-paper because, shortages. By the time the cruise ended every single member of the Soviet Navy crew hated/loathed every single Nation humorless lefty on board with their constant, never-ending petty demands .LOL