Recommended

The Pale King Wallace, David, Foster April 15, 2011

It is extremely relevant to Sam’s interest in meditation—in cultivating uses of attention more conducive to increased well-being, and explores both how we succeed and fail at doing this. I’ve often thought of Wallace and Harris (top two favorite authors, if forced to rank the large list of them) as having rather similar ideas on this front. I’ll allow Wallace’s own words to speak for him:

From a great article about Wallace’s life and his struggle to write The Pale King:

The novel continues Wallace’s preoccupation with mindfulness. It is about being in the moment and paying attention to the things that matter, and centers on a group of several dozen I.R.S. agents working in the Midwest. Their job is tedious, but dullness, “The Pale King” suggests, ultimately sets them free.  A typed note that Wallace left in his papers laid out the novel’s idea: “Bliss—a-second-by-second joy and gratitude at the gift of being alive, conscious—lies on the other side of crushing, crushing boredom. Pay close attention to the most tedious thing you can find (Tax Returns, Televised Golf) and, in waves, a boredom like you’ve never known will wash over you and just about kill you. Ride these out, and it’s like stepping from black and white into color. Like water after days in the desert. Instant bliss in every atom.”

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