David Foster Wallace Talks Talent, the Inferiority Complex and Being a ‘Literary Heavyweight’

I’ve been reading Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself by David Lipsky, a book in a transcript/interview format that tells the exchange between Rollingstone reporter and editor David Lipsky and Infinite Jest author, David Foster Wallace. They take a road trip. They sit with his dogs. They confess. They tell and find common ground.

I am the backseat passenger, the customer behind two dudes in line engaging in brilliant conversations that consumes me. Like being on the outside looking in, being incredibly drawn even though I can’t keep up with every inside joke, every esteemed piece of literature.

So many profound little bits here, this one in particular. Wallace sheds some insight into how reviewers will use his “first book as a noose to hang” his second. He also mentions how authors can be easily displaced because of new authors or “better” works hitting the market.

Wallace, an introspective soul as human as they come, arrives with profound insight as a writer, as a writer tackling topics that confound him some that include but are not limited to fame, prestige or life in general. Especially here; I love how he articulates or sometimes struggles to articulate, given his thought-riddled messy cognition, how he doesn’t identify with “more talented” or “less talented” or if something is “shit.” Rather, he thinks, “Man, there might be something here, but I just don’t get it. This is just not my cup of tea.”

How refreshing! How easily someone can dismiss a piece of work that fails to get across, so they reach for the closest, easy to grab, sorry excuse they could find instead of reasoning and sympathizing with the artist.
Wallace’s response is genuine and thoughtful because as someone who’s too into himself, too inside his own mind, David knows and knows too well how it’s like to go through these waves, how the “envy stuff” just burned him and how that kind of mindset can tear you up. He doesn’t “wanna send any blood supply to that part” of his brain anymore.

To be revered for your work and to want more recognition, it’s a vicious cycle and everyone’s out competing in a saturated market for the same small slice of the pie.

“And it’s not like I’m above it. It’s just that it — the amount that it hurts me, outweighs whatever good feelings it gives me.”

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