Professor Peyton Burgess English T122
30 September 2013
Is “Low Art”, Art?
Society today has been slacking in a sense of art. “Low art” has become more popular than ever leaving any intelligent mind stimulation. Artistic merit is highly revered and encouraged lately for this reason. “Big Red Son” by David Foster Wallace shows a high sense of serious art and moreover artistic merit. One with such an intelligent background and upbringing, it would be shocking for him not to achieve such artsitic merit. This merit is achieved through structure, format, and thorough research.
David Foster Wallace was an award winning writer from New York; however, he was raised in Chicago, Illinois. Wallace went to Amherst College for English and Philosophy and then to graduate school at Harvard University. The start of a long trail of depression led him to drop out at Harvard and become a teacher at Emerson College in Boston, MA. Wallace is known for his intelligence, however this characteristic is in the genes. His father, James Donald
Wallace, studied Philosophy at Cornell and later moved to Chicago with his family to teach at
University of Illinois. Sally Foster Wallace, his mother, won the professor of the year award and got her masters at University of Illinois. However, this strong upbringing can result in a lot of pressure. Wallace struggled with depression for quite sometime which can be seen through his writings. This struggle continued until he took his life at age 46.
Put simply, artistic merit is the value of art, if it has any or not. A piece with higher artistic merit shows a sense of individualism, intensive research, and connection to the audience.
David Foster Wallace argues that this value has been declining through the years and we are increasingly getting closer to “low art”. In a society constantly observing “low art” we don’t have to do much work in analytically understanding the piece; writers constantly
Cited: Wallace, David Foster. Interview by Charlie Rose. The Charlie Rose Show. PBS. KACV, New York City: 27 Mar. 1997. Television. "The Best of David Foster Wallace." The American Prospect. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2013. <http://prospect.org/article/bestdavidfosterwallace>. Wallace, David Foster. Big Red Son. New York City: Little, Brown and Co., 1998. Print. Larry McCaffery, "An Interview with David Foster Wallace." Review of Contemporary Fiction 13.2 (Summer 1993), 127–150.