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Recognizing in his work the importance, not of affect and love, but of affectlessness and lovelessness reveals that if Wallace's writing is itself affecting, it is not because it discovers an alchemical way of transmuting postmodern irony into golden sentiment, but because it so vividly stages the chemical covalence of love and fear.
How, I asked myself, can you have affectlessness without affectfulness, and zestfulness but no zestlessness?
For instance, in a disarmingly honest attempt to save the text from its detractors, the novelist-critic Barbara Scrupski writes that Charlotte Simmons lays bare the limits of "the ethics of the liberal elites," or those who speak "the voice of affectlessness, of studied, deliberate 'cool'" (87, 88).
After a hard cut to his doctor's office he is begging for something to relieve his pain ("Can you please give me something?"), understood here as requesting a remedy for insomnia, exhaustion, boredom and affectlessness. All the doctor suggests is for him to see "real" pain ("see the guys with testicular cancer").
(59) The latter refers to an affected affectlessness, to emotional self-control and relaxation.
Malcolm Kelsall argued that "the audience is invited to admire an amazing instance of the 'god-like height' to which the 'Roman virtues lift up mortal man,'" but is an extremity of emotional affectlessness necessarily God-like?