A Note to a Friend

This is a note to my friend Good Sir Philip. I would have written it on Facebook, but for formatting’s sake it’s easier to write it here. Plus, the other 2.718 people who read this blog might find some of what I say useful, too. So, here goes.

Dear Good Sir Philip,

Hello! Here are some fun facts, observations, and even questions:

  1. I’m about 100 pages into Infinite Jest. It’s really good. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
  2. Had you read any DFW before writing that piece for The Inkslinger? Good job on that, by the way.
  3. It’s okay if you don’t like The Hunger Games. ND Wilson doesn’t, and he’s someone whose opinion I really respect. I think I disagree with him, and I still think the series is good on the whole (look around here [sorry I’m not being more specific, but there are a lot of posts about the series] for a fairly good Christian engagement with the series; also, John Granger’s book about Harry Potter is really good), but his criticisms are well-taken. [It’s not okay, however, to dislike Harry Potter. But, I know you love HP, so we’re good.]
  4. Seriously, ND Wilson is awesome. He has great ideas, and he conveys them in really good (even great at times) writing. I heartily recommend his nonfiction (Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl is amazing; it’s hard to describe, but it’s the book I gave the MISTERPROFESSORCOACH at the roast; it’s really good) and his young-adult fiction (for example the 100 Cupboards trilogy [here, here, and here]).
  5. Thank you again for making the song happen. I added my 2¢, but, really, it was nothing compared to the time and effort the two of you put into it. We’ll have to record it. Seriously. At least send me the words. But, let’s record it. For reals.
  6. If you want to write fiction, I highly recommend getting to know Flannery O’Connor. If you haven’t read anything by her, start with some of her short stories (the ones I’ve read are “The Turkey,” “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” “Good Country People,” “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” “Revelation,” “Greenleaf,” “The River,” and “The Artificial N——”), but then read Mystery and Manners. She has some amazing insights into the nature of fiction and fiction writing. Seriously good, although critical of a lot of fiction writers (which I don’t mind as much, since I’m not super interested in fiction writing). But, as a reader of fiction, I got a lot out of it, and I think you will, too.
  7. I’ve enjoyed our rivalry, which, on my part, has been motivated by a strange combination of jealousy, competitiveness, and Good Clean Fun. All those fights on top of the bells were wearing me out. But, I’m glad we’ve reconciled. We really should have become friends a long time ago, and now you’re leaving. Alas.
  8. Thank you for your taste in music. I’ve learned a lot from you, and I hope to keep learning. You were right, this was amazing:

Thank you again for everything.

Sincerely yours,

The Other Ridleyfan

    • Philip Whiteman
    • May 23rd, 2012

    Holy Smokes. I cannot wait to reply to this….so I won’t!

    1) I am pleased as punch that you are on your infinitely rewarding (I’m sure about 500 pretentious lit. majors have already used the infinitely ____ status update template before myself) quest. The writing is like nothing I’ve ever read before.

    2) I actually wrote that story a few months before reading any DFW. I like to write stories like that. I feel like that one had the most digressions (in a stupid, family guy sort of way, not in a brilliant DFW way, I admit) out of anything I’ve ever written. Thank you for your kind words about that. So far, I’ve read IJ and most of Consider the Lobster. I am looking forward to more Wallace.

    3) Yea you and I are on the same page w/r/t HP. While I didn’t fall head over heels for the hunger games, I did appreciate what the author was trying to do. However, I think it takes expert skill (alchemic, almost), to weave theology into YA fiction in a tasteful way. I would want my kids to read the HG, and we can leave it at that. I’m looking forward to the materials you linked and will investigate when I get home from Biola.

    4) If you say that book is awesome, I will read it.

    5) Yes we will record it. Don’t fret about that. Something that grand cannot be lost in post-graduation fog. I’ll send you the lyrics tomorrow. By the way, are you KIDDING ME?! Your flute was integral to the piece as a whole. Saying you were the icing on the cake is an understatement. You were the….baking soda….something integral, not extracurricular.

    6) I actually purchased flannery oconner’s complete stories collection this semester. It is sitting on my desk and will be investigated this summer. The fact that you appreciate her entices me. I’ll let you know what I think (I can’t imagine I’ll dislike it). I really do want to understand fiction better. DFW really helped.

    7) The legend of our battles will ring throughout the dark corridors of our universe until the heat death of the universe (did we cause that? Was our constant fighting responsible for the third law of thermody.?) Actually, what prompted me to antagonize you this semester was knowing that you’d think it was funny. Yes, I am exhausted as well. These last few months have brought a handful of people into my life that a) I wish had been there years ago and b) I wish could remain there. I have a feeling you and I will keep in touch. I consider you to be an excellent friend and a worthy adversary. I think only you and I really understand the Ridley, which makes us…a fellowship…of sorts. A most sinister one at that!

    8) I appreciate your appreciation for music and my music taste. I would love to show you some bands that friends have shown me in the past that have really kickstarted my quest for sound (I’m sure you also feel that burning desire to pursue music).

    I’d like to continue talking about all of these things and more. You know my email, my number and I’m pretty sure ridley could draw you a representation of the squared wavefunction of where I like to eat/where to find me. Your post may have been the best thing I’ve ever seen on the internet.

    • I don’t have time to give an adequate reply to your reply right now (gotta finish off that lab notebook!), but suffice it to say that I suspect your suspicions are correct: we will remain in contact and continue what we have begun these last months. And, who knows? Our squared wavefunctions might intersect in the future…

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