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  1. Recently, I introduced a friend to David Foster Wallace, and he asked me what about his writing strikes me to the point where I say, without hesitation, that he was a genius. And quite frankly, I didn't know how to answer - unless you read his work, he's almost impossible to describe. One of the things I said was that reading his work is like reading a perfectly written Lisp program, his language being almost function-like and polyphonic - you're not really "finished" with one of his books until you read the final word, and only then does the entire thing mesh together. I was listening to this 1996 interview with Christopher Lydon on "The Connection": I was struck by what Wallace said about entertainment and the internet starting at around the 30:00 point - let me qualify this by saying he's *very* hard to quote, because he changes gears and shifts back-and-forth when he speaks, so this won't be perfect: "The book [infinite Jest] is strategically set in the future. It's not really supposed to be a reflection of the way things are now, but a kind of extrapolation on trends ... I remember seeing Terry Gilliam's "Brazil," where everybody sort of has TVs ... on rods coming out of their foreheads and everybody's watching TV all the time. It's not quite that ... when you think about it, first, HDTV's going to come out, and then there's going to be virtual reality, and then the prospect of things like virtual reality porn ... We're going to have to come to some sort of understanding with ourselves about how much of this we're going to allow ourselves because it's probably going to get a lot more fun than real life is." and then: "The idea that improved technology is going to solve the problems that technology has caused seems to me to be a bit Quixotic. For me, I understand there's a certain amount of hope about the internet democratizing people ... The fact of the matter is, if you've still got a nation of people sitting in front of screens pretending ... interacting with images rather than each other, feeling lonely and so needing more and more images, you're going to have the same basic problem. And the better the images get, the more tempting it's going to be to interact with images rather than other people, and I think the emptier it's going to get. That's just a suspicion and just my own opinion."
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