I believe David Foster Wallace tried to say everything out of fear he had nothing to say. One gets the impression that if he could have broken down the anticipation of a lover’s kiss into Planck units and built it back up again, he would have done it. He was the purest expression of the American masculine mind failing in its struggle to reassert control. He believed himself capable of perfection. As a result, he couldn’t just DO anything. He couldn’t BE. He had to show us he knew everything – the physics of swinging of a tennis racket; the construction of an electoral campaign; the mind of the lobster. But his nonfiction digressions were only breaks – pauses – in his overarching project of tearing himself apart to find the thing that made him feel unfit to achieve perfection. It was his quest to find God; and the fear that he might never find her finally broke him. He flayed himself alive for us. And it was tragic precisely because many of us knew how he felt. We’re left to find the lesson in his suffering, and it’s not that hard to find. He was a writer’s writer, after all. He knew the point was not to tell, it was to show.
my final, highly personal interpretation of DFWMarch 29, 2009