Mar 2, 2011

The Broom of the System

Ornate Language / Simple Language
David Foster Wallace does a grand job of showing ornate language and its simple substitutes. Who is better, Mr. Bloemker, with his arcane, long, jargony way of speaking, or Lenore, with her simple quips phrasing what he meant to say in two or three words?


Lenore Beadsman's great-grandmother Lenore Beadsman goes missing in David Foster Wallace's novel The Broom of the System and this is the conversation between her and the nursing home director, Mr. Bloemker about her great-grandmother's whereabouts:


[Mr. Bloemker:] "What I have been able to determine is that at some point in the last, shall we say, sixteen hours some number of residents and staff here at the facility have become . . . unavailable to access."
[Lenore Beadsman:] "Meaning Missing."


[Mr. Bloemker:] "Yes."


. . .


Bloemker took a deep breath and rubbed a gold eye with a white finger. In the air around him a whirlpool of dust motes was created. It whirled. 


[Mr. Bloemker:] "There is in addition the fact that the resident whose temporary unavailability is relevant to you, that is to say Lenore, enjoyed a status here -- with the facility administration, the staff, and, through the force of her personality and her evident gifts, especially with the other residents -- that leads one to believe that, were the mislocation a result of anything other than outright coercion on the part of some outside person or persons, which seems unlikely, it would not be improper to posit the location and retrieval of Lenore as near assurance of retrieving the other misplaced parties."


[Lenore Beadsman:] "I didn't understand any of that."


[Mr. Bloemker:] "Your great-grandmother was more or less the ringleader around here."


[Lenore Beadsman:] "Oh."


source: Wallace, David F. The Broom of the System. New York: Penguin Books, 2004, 34; 36. Print. Italics and brackets are my own.


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