People Who Make You Want to be Smarter

A commenter on this YouTube video clip of David Foster Wallace says:

He makes me want to be smarter. He makes me want to hit the library and not leave until I pass out from reading.

A powerful image. I myself have had moments like this. It’s usually when I have an overwhelming desire to take out a tape recorder and record every word the person is saying — that’s when I know I’m really being inspired to soar. Not every person who’s smarter than me inspires me to want to be smarter. But there are some who do, it’s a short list, and I try to talk to them (or read them – if I don’t know them personally) as much as possible.

Do you have a list of people who make you want to be smarter?


The Wallace clip is from a series of readings / clips taken at the Harper’s 150th Anniversary. Tom Wolfe, Annie Dillard, Lewis Latham, Richard Rodriguez, George Saunders all have their own YouTube pieces.

6 comments on “People Who Make You Want to be Smarter
  • Interesting the circles of life. I was just telling my friend to read the Scoble Show on FastCompany’s website earlier.

    I have people who make me want to be smarter about different things. And I think that’s important, too. My father makes me want to be smarter about nutrition and hard work. My friend makes me want to know more about beer (hey, everyone has hobbies). Two of my poli-sci friends make me want to know more about the world and politics and governments and how they’re all connected.

    People who make you want to be smarter are people worth keeping in your life for sure — be it in person or only in books.

  • Wallace’s reading was mildly entertaining, but banal enough to make me feel sleepy, and certainly not worthy of being read at Harper’s 150th Anniversary.

    I still think he’s an overrated hack.

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