David Foster Wallace: brain and information


I have now written several short pieces about the novelist David Foster Wallace (DFW) (The death of a genius, David Foster Wallace’s memorial).

Now, the full Rolling Stones article is online (The lost years and last days of David Foster Wallace) (previously only a portion of the article was available).

Here is one short quote in the article about information:

His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys. “I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today,” he once said, “of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it.” He wanted to write “stuff about what it feels like to live. Instead of being a relief from what it feels like to live.”

And from a newsweek article

…we’re all head cases: encased in our skulls, and sealed off from our fellow humans, we have worlds upon worlds of teeming, unruly sensations, emotions, attitudes, opinions and—that chillingly neutral word—information. “What goes on inside,” Wallace wrote in “Good Old Neon,” is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at a given instant.”

Our brain is simply an information processing machine – but that doesn’t mean humans don’t suffer great pain – sometimes the pain gets too great, as it did for DFW.

2 comments for “David Foster Wallace: brain and information

  1. Eugene
    October 30, 2008 at 2:40 am

    Nice article. Thanks. :) Eugene

  2. Ward
    October 30, 2008 at 9:08 am


    thanks for your comment. You should check out the other DFW posts.