I went to a Dave Eggers book signing a while back when Dave Eggers lived near me (and when Dave Eggers lived near Chip, for that matter; now none of us live there in that place, not one): right after AHWOSG came out.
I was in a line to get my copy of the book signed, and the further I moved up the line, the stupider I felt, because he was (/is) sort of like my age, and I felt at the time that if I had written so personal a book, I would feel weird that people wanted me to sign it? And I kept moving up the line and feeling increasingly awkward, like in Zeno's paradox about the arrow never reaching its target because it keeps getting stupider?
And then there was just one person in front of me and that person went to get her book signed, but her book was not AHWOSG; it was Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus.
Which I think her strategy was: He will see I am whimsical yet deep and therefore sleep with me.
And he signed her copy of Myth of Sisyphus without commenting on it, and then it was my turn, and whim took over (or maybe antiwhim, as I was trying to cancel out the previously established whim), and when Eggers looked up at me, instead of just telling him my name, I instead asked Eggers to forge Camus' signature on my copy of AHWOSG (since the only signed DFW book I have is Everything and More, I'll just add that what I was going for is f–1(f(x)) = x where x = attempted whimsy). And Eggers (again, without any comment) wrote:
Oh the horror.
~ Albert Camus
~ Albert Camus
..and I thought, "That's not Camus, that's Conrad," and I walked away feeling stupider and stupider.
But: To my knowledge, he did not sleep with the whimsical and deep girl!
Because after this signing, we all got on a bus and went to see a gallery in lower Manhattan that was displaying paintings by elephants. Because, and this almost doesn't seem like it could have actually happened, apparently during this period in Thailand's history, all of the elephants were being captured and loaded up on methamphetamine and put to work in the circus or as black market laborers. And so these two Russian expats, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, were rescuing the elephants and having them paint things (like literally they held the paint brushes with their trunks) and then they (the Russians) were selling the paintings and then the money from the sale would go to house and feed the elephants. Which, that plan doesn't seem scalable, but it really was a real thing (unless it's not) -- there were actual paintings in the gallery; there were peanut shells littering the floor. And I did not see that girl there.
And anyway: now it's seven years later and I just did a Google book search; this is from The Plague:
Among the heaps of corpses, the clanging bells of ambulances, the warnings of what goes by the name of fate, among unremitting waves of fear and agonized revolt, the horror that such things could be, always a great voice had been ringing in the ears of these forlorn panicked people, a voice calling them back to the land of their desire, a homeland.
Sidenote: At the elephant painting exhibition, Eggers was taking questions ("How long does it take an elephant to paint something?" "Is this real?" "Really?" "Really is it real, though?") and someone asked how many paintings an elephant could do in one day if it was still on Elephant Meth.
This is funny! But also cynical! (RECALL: This was about eight months before we were attacked, and everyone in New York was nice to everyone else for a while.) Eggers said, "I'm not going to answer that."
I don't know the context of that Camus passage, but here is what I'm going to do: I'm going to give Eggers the benefit of the doubt.
In fact, I'm going to try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, even though (it is said) we ultimately have no control and even though (to paraphrase) everything in life entropies toward irrationality; Zadie Smith said recently on DFW (and let's just state it outright: the only reason I'm thinking about any of this (= cynism vs. sincerity) at all and not just spending my day reading, like, Gawker is because of DFW) Zadie Smith summarized at least one aspect of his aesthetic thusly: If we must say something, let's at least only say true things.
I am agreeing for the foreseeable future. Let's see how long it lasts.
Dave Eggers forges Albert Camus' signature because why not?
Originally uploaded by mrbikferd