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David Foster Wallace's Widow's Technology of Melancholy

Laura Green can't "celebrate" David Foster Wallace's new, final book. She saw his sickness for what it was: a debhilitating madness that kept him from enjoying life. She has her own sadness now, having watched her husband die, and her own guilt. She...

Laura Green can’t “celebrate” David Foster Wallace’s new, final book. She saw his sickness for what it was: a debhilitating madness that kept him from enjoying life. She has her own sadness now, having watched her husband die, and her own guilt. She spent many days away from him at a time, not knowing just how deep his illness reached. An artist, she had been working on a number of machines with the five-year-old son of a friend who owned a gallery. The day he hanged himself, Green had been working on a political machine with a circus angle. She couldn’t work again. Not at least until 2009, when she began what she called the “forgiveness machine.” Tim Adams explained in the Guardian:

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In the end, Green didn’t use the machine herself, except to put a few tester messages through. “I couldn’t give it my full attention,” she explains. “I was worried it wouldn’t even work for the full four hours of the show’s opening. I was also kind of a mess about surviving the opening itself. Seeing people, chatting. Not ‘kind of a mess’ – a mess. I couldn’t imagine doing it.” She thought she would come back to visit the machine after the opening but instead she drove to her new home, not far from where she grew up, and stayed there. The machine was overwhelmed, too; it couldn’t process all the requests and was eventually dismantled. “Forgiving is never as easy as we would like,” she says. “Apparently quite a lot of people cried.” In her studio, now, Green smiles at that idea, with all the weariness of someone who has lately done far too much crying for one lifetime. She is full of spirited life, continually doing her utmost to laugh, even to attempt bad jokes when she talks about the last two and a half years, in an effort to deflect herself from the alternative. Her eyes tell different stories. “I don’t know if David’s parents have anger at him,” she says. “Maybe because they were dealing with his illness, his depression, for such a very long time. But I have heard from other people who have lost spouses in this way, and fathers and mothers, and anger is perfectly appropriate. You can choose to be angry at the illness rather than the person, of course, but fury is completely appropriate: thus the forgiveness machine.”

Via the Guardian.