Thursday, September 3, 2009

A long 2003 interview with David Foster Wallace

If you are interested in David Foster Wallace you might want to click on the title of this post to be taken to a 1 hour and 24 minute (charming and generous) interview he gave for German TV in 2003 (when he was 40). I had not seen this interview before. If I had to say what the interview is about I'd say - growing up.

He frequently and self-effacingly refers to his inability to articulate the complexity of what he is trying to discuss as if he is trying to say something that he cannot express better no matter how smart and well said? As he says, in a novel you are coming as close to experiencing the mind of another person as you can get - like playing music with someone. In conversation (especially interviews for media) less so.

There are some interesting interactions with the interviewer that are worth tuning into. You can jump around the video or watch it straight through. The highlights for me were:

1) types of humor (black, escapist, transfiguring). He comes right out of the box talking about Wittgenstein and jokes.

2) irony - "the song of a bird that has come to love its cage" (3:05)

3) class and culture (5:07)

4) Addiction as a form of devotion and how we are all devoted to something be it, drugs, money, pleasure, achievement, - the belief that one's purpose in life is to gratify our own desires. (7:25)

5) at 10:15 there is a break in the action and the cameraman says he is pontificating and then zooms in on his face - it is interesting.

6) the nature of happiness and freedom of choice as a kind of slavery (19:05)

7) the dread of being alone (and bored) (30:00)

8) the allure of drugs (40:00)

9) entertainment (45:00)

10) why he gives interviews and who his readers are (1 hour 2 mins)

11) higher education, work and jobs (1 hour 9 mins)


  1. Thanks Steve - this is fantastic. I've never seen it before so it was so exciting to watch!

    I started a blog of my paintings - like you said, it's good to put something out there.

    Check it out when you have a minute

  2. A - I tried to find your blog but cold not get to it directly but I was in a a round about way because i found your comment on the blog of the son of one of your subjects. I am now searching for music form your musicians because I have not even heard of a single one. I am looking forward to listening. Your portraits are landscapes.

    I had not seen the dfw interview before either. I think maybe its just been put on the web. - S.



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