wieni

Muncie Evening Press, Indiana, January 19, 1922  

The effect on the sausage market of the slang expression is serious..

Returning soldiers revived the almost forgotten bit of slang and the public once more began to speak of “wienies” as “dogs.” The effect was instantaneous, Russell says, and sensitive people found themselves unable to eat sausages. 

As the phrase grew in popularity, sausages lost caste. Now only the hardened buy them.

For most of my college career I was a hard-core syntax wienie, a philosophy major with a specialization in math and logic. I was, to put it modestly, quite good at the stuff, mostly because I spent all my free time doing it. Wienieish or not, I was actually chasing a special sort of buzz, a special moment that comes sometimes. One teacher called these moments “mathematical experiences.” What I didn’t know then was that a mathematical experience was aesthetic in nature, an epiphany in Joyce’s original sense. These moments appeared in proof-completions, or maybe algorithms. Or like a gorgeously simple solution to a problem you suddenly see after half a notebook with gnarly attempted solutions. It was really an experience of what I think Yeats called “the click of a well-made box.” Something like that. The word I always think of it as is “click.”

Anyway, I was just awfully good at technical philosophy, and it was the first thing I’d ever really been good at, and so everybody, including me, anticipated I’d make it a career. But it sort of emptied out for me somewhere around age twenty. I just got tired of it, and panicked because I was suddenly not getting any joy from the one thing I was clearly supposed to do because I was good at it and people liked me for being good at it. Not a fun time. I think I had kind of a mid-life crisis at twenty, which probably doesn’t augur real well for my longevity.

So what I did, I went back home for a term, planning to play solitaire and stare out the window, whatever you do in a crisis. And all of a sudden I found myself writing fiction. My only real experience with fun writing had been on a campus magazine with Mark Costello, the guy I later wrote “Signifying Rappers” with. But I had had experience with chasing the click, from all the time spent with proofs. At some point in my reading and writing that fall I discovered the click in literature, too. It was real lucky that just when I stopped being able to get the click from math logic I started to be able to get it from fiction. The first fictional clicks I encountered were in Donald Barthelme’s “The Balloon” and in parts of the first story I ever wrote, which has been in my trunk since I finished it. I don’t know whether I have that much natural talent going for me fiction wise, but I know I can hear the click, when there is a click. In Don DeLillo’s stuff, for example, almost line by line I can hear the click. It’s maybe the only way to describe writers I love. I hear the click in most Nabokov. In Donne, Hopkins, Larkin. In Puig and Cortázar. Puig clicks like a fucking Geiger counter. And none of these people write prose as pretty as Updike, and yet I don’t hear the click in Updike.

But so here I am at like twenty-one and I don’t know what to do. Do I go into math logic, which I’m good at and pretty much guaranteed an approved career in? Or do I try to keep on with this writing thing, this “artiste” thing? The idea of being a “writer” repelled me, mostly because of all the foppish aesthetes I knew at school who went around in berets stroking their chins calling themselves writers. I have a terror of seeming like those guys, still. Even today, when people I don’t know ask me what I do for a living, I usually tell them I’m “in English” or I “work free-lance.” I don’t seem to be able to call myself a writer. And terms like “postmodernist” or “surrealist” send me straight to the bathroom, I’ve got to tell you.

—  David Foster Wallace, in a conversation

im not really seeing the reasoning behind pretending like you never were in a state where you didn’t have a lack of knowledge about a certain thing?

there’s nothing wrong with saying you weren’t fully aware or educated about a certain topic, that’s the great thing about life…you’re constantly learning.

it makes no sense to act better after learning about something around people who still haven’t learned what you know…teach them, help them and don’t go about it acting like a wienie hut jr.