What are we looking at here? It's a photo of Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Muppets) dressed as David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest, The Pale King) circa 1996/1997. This isn't some kind of junior-year Halloween party pic, though, where you can spot the couple dressed as Wes Anderson characters bogarting the keg in the background of the shot; no, this comes from the set of the movie adaptation of Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace.
This photo is also going to be used in future e-reader dictionaries to explain the word "uncanny." The uncanny, according to Freud, is a familiar feeling and an alien feeling happening inside you at the same time. It's your brain shorting out because, um, that's definitely Jason Segel's face but it's also really close to this face:
That is David Foster Wallace as he appeared to TV viewers via the Charlie Rose on March 27, 2007. That's a little over a year after the release of Infinite Jest, the novel Wallace is best known for, about which it is acknowledged as funny to joke about how many people haven't read it. (But really, despite being long, Infinite Jest isn't even close to being the toughest thing he wrote, so can we all just give that tired shit up and, like, read the actual book instead of turning it into a hipster-apartment punchline? It's naive to think that one book could make people into human beings better equipped to deal with how scary everything in the world is, but maybe it's also true?)
Here are the facts: That's Jason Segel dressed as David Foster Wallace. He's dressed like him because he's in a movie version of a road trip a journalist David Lipsky (that would be Jesse Eisenberg in the photo above) went on with the author after the release of Infinite Jest. Segel's wearing the bandanna Wallace was known to wear at the time. He's got the grubby hoodie, too, something of a trademark for the author who, by all accounts, was prone to sweating and was generally uncomfortable in his own skin.
Here's what we hope to be true: The fact that Segel is doing such an uncanny job, even in a still, is a little flicker of hope that this movie might tell some kind of true story about the writer. Which would be good, because more people should read Wallace. The director is James Ponsoldt, who made a surprising film last year called The Spectacular Now that's about teenagers in love and alcoholism. (The surprising thing is that it doesn't suck; in fact, it's excellent and fair and subtle and all the things a story with those combustible elements shouldn't be.)
This is actually the best chance we have for getting some kind of David Foster Wallace story on screen and having it not suck.
Hold on to your butts.
[via Publisher's Weekly]