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LETTERS

Writer's 'courage'

October 11, 2008

RE "Remembered for His Kindness," Oct. 6: I am not familiar with the work of writer-teacher David Foster Wallace nor can I speculate on the circumstances which led to his suicide by hanging. Susan Salter Reynolds' article mentioned depression and quoted from Wallace's memorial service that "He was in a terrible and dangerous place as a man and a writer." The article was poignant about the window light and cello music during the memorial.

The article noted associates' memories of Wallace's kindness, integrity and an obligation to his readers. But when Reynolds noted Wallace's "courage" being passed on to his students, I sense a severe disconnect from reality. Any person choosing suicide is not expressing courage. Except in the most dire stages of terminal illness, suicide is an intensely selfish decision.

The belief that artistic turmoil is somehow troubling enough to justify suicide is a fantasy of cultural vanity. This writer was published, revered and had an enviable profession. To communicate "courage" to students, a teacher can face inner demons, seek treatment for depression and allow the light to find its way into this precious existence. Waking up one more day is inspiring.

Tim Bristol

Santa Barbara

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