Category: video

David Foster Wallace on ambition

This short (4:20) PBS Digital Studios video went live yesterday. A precious insight into David Foster Wallace’s way of thinking, it was recorded on March 4, 1996.

A few excerpts (full video embedded below):

  • Perfectionism is very dangerous because if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high you never do anything.
  • The people who seriously, seriously play [tennis] devote their lives to it the way monks do.
  • In college I barely even played on the team ’cause just classes were a lot more interesting.
  • I was a very difficult person to teach when I was a student. I thought I was smarter than my teachers.
  • I have learned more [by] teaching in the last three years than I ever learned as a student.
  • [...] how empty and frustrating it is for a reader to invest their time and attention in something and to feel that the agenda is basically to show you that the writer’s clever.
  • The only way that I’m well known at Illinois State is that I am the Grammar Nazi.
  • Any student whose deployment of a semicolon is not absolutely Mozartesque knows that they’re gonna get a C in my class.