“Constant Bliss in Every Atom”: Tedium and Transcendence in David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King
- Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory
- University of Arizona
- Volume 70, Number 4, Winter 2014
- pp. 167-190
- Additional Information
David Foster Wallace’s final manuscript, edited and published posthumously as The Pale King, presents serious interpretive difficulties in both its form and its content. Despite its fragmentary nature and its deliberate embrace of lengthy repetition, it is a unified work that develops Wallace’s earlier thoughts on boredom, conversion, and endurance. The Pale King argues consistently that the inherent boredom of modern life and work is convertible—in a quasi-religious sense—to transcendence, meaning, and happiness. Indeed, it goes beyond argument to imitation; the repetitions in the text are best read as reflections of, and cures for, the ennui of the postmodern condition.