Friday, December 14, 2007

Bookworm 4/11/96:

MS: I'm speaking to David Foster Wallace, the author of Infinite Jest. This may be hard to do, but can you find a way of saying what the difference is between that kind of involution and the complexities of this novel?

DFW: [Whispers]: Boy. [Pause, whispers]: Boy. [Speaks] I probably can't do it and sound very smart or coherent, but I know that -- I guess I, when I was in my twenties, like deep down underneath all the bullshit what I really believed was that the point of fiction was to show that the writer was really smart. And that sounds terrible to say, but I think, looking back, that's what was going on. And I don't think I really understood what loneliness was when I was a young man. And now I've got a much less clear idea of what the point of art is, but I think it's got something to do with loneliness and something to do with setting up a conversation between human beings. And I know that when I started this book I wanted-- I had very vague and not very ambitious...ambitions, and one was I wanted to do something really sad. I'd done comedy before, I wanted to do just something really sad and I wanted to do something about what was sad about America. And there's a fair amount of weird and hard technical stuff going on in this book, but, I mean one reason why I'm willing to go around and talk to people about it, and that I'm sort of proud of it in a way that I haven't been about earlier stuff is that I feel like whatever's hard in the book is in service of something that at least for me is good and important. And it's embarrassing to talk about because I think it sounds kind of cheesy. I sort of think, like all the way down kind of to my butthole, I was a different person coming up with this book than I was about my earlier stuff. And I'm not saying my earlier stuff was all crap, you know, but it's just it seems like I think when you're very young and until you've sort of [clears throat] faced various darknesses, it's very difficult to understand how precious and rare the sort of thing that art can do is.

9:57 AM