Monday, January 16, 2012

From the Archives: A Supposedly Fun Thing

The unfortunate news of the capsizing of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the Tuscan coast this weekend brought to mind one of David Foster Wallace's most popular pieces, originally published in a 1996 edition of Harper's as "Shipping Out: On the (Nearly Lethal) Comforts of a Luxury Cruise," and later republished as "A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again." Read his original article on his time on the 7NC Megacruiser Zenith here. An excerpt:

"You are, here, excused from even the work of constructing the fantasy, because the ads do it for you. And this near-parental type of advertising makes a very special promise, a diabolically seductive promise that's actually kind of honest, because it's a promise that the Luxury Cruise itself is all about honoring. The promise is not
that you can experience great pleasure but that you will. They'll make certain of it. They'll micromanage every iota of every pleasure-option so that not even the dreadful corrosive action of your adult consciousness and agency and dread can f*** up your fun. Your troublesome capacities for choice, error, regret, dissatisfaction,
and despair will be removed from the equation. You will be able-finally, for once to relax, the ads promise, because you will have no choice. Your pleasure will, for 7 nights and 6.5 days, be wisely and efficiently managed."

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