I’ve heard a lot of bad things about Wallace’s journalistic ethics – basically misrepresenting the actual story, not the big lines but lots of the details, for stylistic effect. He was not a rigorous searcher of actual truth, just some kind of idealized “emotional truth”, and in an era where “alternative facts” is considered an acceptable way to respond to an outright lie, that’s not something to emulate. It’s been a while so I don’t have the exact links to the articles that mention this. (I think some of it was in the biography of Wallace by DT Max.)
Many of my favorite authors had suffered from anxiety or depression — Dostoyevsky, Fitzgerald, Plath, Woolf and Emily Dickinson, with whom I felt a special migraine-sufferer kinship. I sought out biographies of these tortured artists and underlined the details of their suffering until the pages were covered in multicolored highlighter. Surely, I told myself, their anguish was linked to their greatness. Instead of fleeing anxiety and depression (although many did douse their emotional instability with alcohol), they dived in and used their misery as inspiration for their creative work. I was convinced that killing the mad part of me with medication would also kill that which made me unique. I memorized a line by Proust: “Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.”
.. In fact, I am more myself than ever, able to tap veins of creativity and insight I never knew existed, once buried under the clamor of anxiety. My writing, too, was born again. Glimmers of redemption sprang in my dark, and often tragic, stories. I can now see the infinite spectrum of emotion in all its nuanced hues, not just the black and white of despair and joy.
Andy White is small and wiry, with an unexpectedly large nose, speckled eyes, and an air of being just about to turn away, not on an errand of any importance but as a means of remaining free to cut and run without the nuisance of prolonged good-byes. Crossing the threshold of his eighth decade, his person is uncannily boyish-seeming.