What It Is to Be a Human Being

That’s what David Foster Wallace once said he wanted his writing to convey, and hey struggled to meet that impossible ambition throughout his all-too-brief career. I suspect that writers have struggled with it for as long as there have been writers, and Wallace probably came closer than anyone to acheiving just the right alchemical equation. I just finished reading the article about Wallace’s struggle in the latest issue of The New Yorker, and it made me once again sad, impassioned, jealous. I wondered if I had such a clear goal with my writing, or if Wallace just hit upon the words–as usual–that I wished I’d thought of.

Aside from that , what do I hope my own writing achieves? Is there a single, quotable element that ties it all together? I don’t know if I can answer that right now. I’m still reeling a bit from that article. What I think about a lot is escapism. Some people try to use literature as a form of escapism, but I prefer a literature that challenges you to stare into the gaping maw of each living moment because to me that IS what it is to be a human being. Perhaps that’s because I myself have an irrational fear of any given present moment, and I’m constantly fighting the urge to escape into the past or future. Facing and fighting that fear is what I do always, whether I’m being “a writer” or just getting through the day. I don’t know how much  my writing does that or conveys that or has anything to do with that, but I look at Wallace’s example, and I see possibility.


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