Capacity of Spirit > Any Special Talents

D.T. Max has a 10,000 word essay in the latest New Yorker on the life of David Foster Wallace. It breaks new ground on several fronts. Most notably, interviews with his wife Karen Green and excerpts and detail on his third novel that he did not finish. Max suggests that Wallace’s inability to complete novel #3 weighed on him to the point where he wondered whether the anti-depressants were hindering his creativity. This contributed to him going off Nardil, which was the beginning of the end.

Here’s one quote along the way that jumped out at me:

In his final major interview, given to Le Nouvel Observateur in August, 2007, Wallace talked about various writers he admired—St. Paul, Rousseau, Dostoyevsky among them—and added “what are envied and coveted here seem to me to be qualities of human beings—capacities of spirit—rather than technical abilities or special talents.

There’s a lot of wisdom there. Someone’s qualities as a human being mattering more than their technical ability or special talents.


Here’s another DFW quote from his interview with Larry McCaffery in 1993:

I’m not saying I’m able to work consistently out of the premise, but it seems like the big distinction between good art and so-so art lies somewhere in the art’s heart’s purpose, the agenda of the consciousness behind the text. It’s got something to do with love.

And here are all the articles I’ve read tagged David Foster Wallace.

8 Responses to Capacity of Spirit > Any Special Talents

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *