This is Joe Nickerson’s tattoo.
“And when he came back to, he was flat on his back on the beach in the freezing sand, and it was raining out of a low sky, and the tide was way out.”
– From Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
The brilliant shadow the writer David Foster Wallace cast over my life and writing and the way I view the world is really pretty much impossible to quantify. Aside from family members, I have never felt such sorrow related to the death of a person I did not personally know – though, that is not entirely accurate. Given the depth of emotion and human decency David often shared and expressed in both his fiction and essays, and the extent to which I often live in my own head, on some level, I had (still have) a deeper, more intimate relationship with him than I had or have with friends and/or family – both living and deceased.
So, as someone who has always been interested in literary-minded tattoos, this was a no brainer. The passage is taken from his beautiful mess of novel, Infinite Jest – the ellipses, a device Wallace often employed to express a character’s speechlessness, symbolizes my own inability to fully express both my own sorrow and David’s fall into silence.