Culled from the current issue of Harper’s (January 2009), as recited by Zadie Smith at a memorial service for DFW at New York University):
“[…]there’s something kind of timelessly vital and sacred about good writing. This thing doesn’t have that much to do with talent, even glittering talent…Talent’s just an instrument. It’s like having a pen that works instead of one that doesn’t. I’m not saying I’m able to work consistently out of that 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. With having the discipline to talk out of that part or yourself that can love instead of the part that just wants to be loved.”
So I guess it’s me quoting Harper’s quoting Zadie Smith quoting David Foster Wallace, which is I think part of the magic of words and thoughts — that they course through so many minds, residing, then spreading again.
David Foster Wallace brings back feelings of J.D. Salinger’s alter-ego/character Buddy Glass — the philosopher at the bar, the one who tells you how it is outside the classroom. Much of how I try to act comes from his Kenyon Speech. It just moved me so much, the non-academic “real-life”ness of it all.
Writing as an act of love. If that sounds cheesey, we need more cheese.