An editor at another house proposed making it a book to David’s agent. I had thought it was too short and intended to include it in an uncollected-works volume, but once we tried putting one sentence per page it worked wonderfully!Wallace’s address in large part deals with the commonplace notion that the value of a college education was to teach one to think:
The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.And then there is Wallace’s conviction concerning true freedom:
[It] means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.(By the way, my colleagues here at The Morning News have sponsored an interesting initiative to encourage the reading of Infinite Jest.)
Apropos of nothing, here is David Foster Wallace on the publishing business:
There’s a weird illogic about it, because the less important literary fiction gets to the culture, the harder those corporations who for whatever reason keep wanting to publish it, have to market it. So in order to keep it alive, you have to murder it to save it.And finally, The Pale King, Wallace’s unfinished novel discovered posthumously by his widow, is scheduled for publication next spring. Though I am generally opposed to this kind of fiddling around, in fairness I should withhold comment until I can read it, yes?
A book is also a product. At least the books that we’re talking about Even a book that’s about living in a culture that relentlessly turns everything into a product is a product. There are not very complicated ironies built into that situation. But you know that happens maybe four or five times a year. There are these legions of very smart, nice, usually Seven Sisters-educated young publicists for all the different publishing houses whose entire job is networking and lunching and hanging out with the book reviewers and opinion makers again and again hoping the cultural and marketing motor will catch, which one out of 200 times it does.