Feedback Friday :: David Foster Wallace

pitches/proposals :: 0
work completed :: 7 copywriting jobs / 12.5 hours of English-teaching
hours of Dutch learning :: 0.25. I am a disgrace.
books being read :: 2 (Same two as six weeks ago. But I am very close to finishing Amsterdam. Nazis have made it intensely harrowing. As is their wicked wont.)
physical exercise :: I played an hour of tennis yesterday morning. But for the time being, I’m still putting most of my effort into gaining weight.
metaphysical exercise :: None. Sorry.
routine adhesion :: 30%
days left to Amsterdam :: 11
week 19/52 overall rating :: 8/10. Good, good, good. Not bad. Not bad.


I did a lot of work this week. I finished some things. I made some money. I became more prepared for the move.

Eleven days.

I have lots and lots of clothes in piles, ready to give away, but I still have too many to fit in one rucksack. I will have to be more strict with myself. This is good.

Saffron the cat is getting better. Turns out he was very ill. The equivalent of TB, the vet reckons. So they treated him with medicines and what-have-you for a couple of days and now he’s got to stay home for a couple of weeks and recuperate. This is also good. (Fingers crossed.)

Now. Last night I came across a piece of writing that for me encapsulates many if not most of the great truths of human existence so succinctly, and so beautifully, that I want to share it with you.

It’s a commencement speech given to some students by David Foster Wallace. Listen to the whole thing if you can, but below I’ve linked to nine minutes in, where it hots up…


It also contains this sentence, which is one of the finest I’ve ever read:

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty little, unsexy ways every day.”

Then I was reminded that David Foster Wallace suffered from depression and eventually took his own life. Which is viciously sad. He also wrote this:

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”

I really need to read his books. 

Ten days.

Have a smashing weekend.


About the Author

I am Karl Webster. I wrote these words. If you liked them, you’ll be overjoyed to know that there are plenty more where they came from. So you should definitely sign up to my newsletter if you haven’t already.

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