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David Foster Wallace

Novelist, Essayist, English Professor

David Foster Wallace (1962-2008) was an influential author who played a part in the evolution of the postmodern tradition. He went to Harvard University for graduate studies in the philosophy of logic, but dropped out to pursue writing, where he found inspiration.

David Foster Wallace's Opinions

All this business about people committing suicide when they're "severely depressed;" we say, "Holy cow, we must do something to stop them from killing themselves!" That's wrong. Because all these people have, you see, by this time already killed themselves, where it really counts. ... When they "commit suicide," they're just being orderly. They're just giving external form to an event the substance of which already exists and has existed in them over time.
01 Jan 1984    Source

There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it JC or Allah, bet it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.
21 May 2005    Source


And I think it's impossible to spend that many slackjawed, spittlechinned, formative hours in front of commercial art without internalizing the idea that one of the main goals of art is simply to "entertain" give people sheer pleasure. ... I think TV promulgates the idea that good art is just art which makes people like and depend on the vehicle that brings them the art.
01 Jun 1993    Source

In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.
01 Jun 1993    Source

[My] secret pretension...I mean, every writer wants his book to change the world, but I guess I would like to know if the book moved people. I assume that the future the book talks about, while it might be amusing, wouldn't be a fun future to live in. I think it would be nice if the book could maybe make people think about some of the choices we are making, about what we pay attention to and give power to, so maybe the future won't be quite that...glittery but cold.
01 May 1996    Source

Mostly Disagree
My own plan for the coming fourteen months is to knock on doors and stuff envelopes. Maybe even to wear a button. To try to accrete with others into a demographically significant mass. To try extra hard to exercise patience, politeness, and imagination on those with whom I disagree. Also to floss more.
01 Nov 2003    Source

Comparisons with Other Experts and Influencers

The similarity between David Foster Wallace and each expert and influencer is calculated by looking at how the same questions were answered. These figures are used to calculate conforming, nonconforming, and projected opinions. The accuracy of the analysis depends on David Foster Wallace's coverage, which grows with the number of their opinions entered into TakeOnIt.

Barack Obama
United States President
100% agreement / 3 opinions

Leo Tolstoy
Iconic Novelist
100% agreement / 2 opinions

Johann Hari
100% agreement / 1 opinions

Christian Encyclopedia
100% agreement / 1 opinions

Pablo Picasso
Iconic Painter of 20th Century
100% agreement / 1 opinions

W. Somerset Maugham
Famous Writer
100% agreement / 1 opinions

Mostly Agree
Friedrich Nietzsche
Iconic Philosopher of 19th Century
62% agreement / 2 opinions

The Catholic Church
Largest Christian Church
50% agreement / 2 opinions

Oscar Wilde
Famous Author
50% agreement / 2 opinions

Robin Hanson
Economics Professor
50% agreement / 2 opinions

Jamie Whyte
Philosophy Professor
50% agreement / 1 opinions

Mostly Disagree
Steven Pinker
Psychology Professor
25% agreement / 1 opinions

Joseph Heller
Author of Catch 22
25% agreement / 1 opinions

Robert Hass
25% agreement / 1 opinions

Adolf Hitler
Leader of Nazi Party
0% agreement / 1 opinions

G. K. Chesterton
Famous 20th Century Writer
0% agreement / 1 opinions

Eliezer Yudkowsky
Artificial Intelligence Researcher
0% agreement / 1 opinions

Paul Z. Myers
Biology Professor
0% agreement / 1 opinions

Amanda Marcotte
Blogger, Author, Feminist
0% agreement / 1 opinions

George Orwell
Iconic Author of 20th Century
0% agreement / 1 opinions

Conforming Opinions

David Foster Wallace's conforming opinions are opinions that align with the group of experts and influencers David Foster Wallace typically agrees with.

Coverage Answer Question
High Agree Does God exist?
Medium Disagree Is "good" art purely subjective?
Medium Disagree Is trying to "change the world" foolish?

Projected Opinions

David Foster Wallace's projected opinions are opinions David Foster Wallace is expected to have if their opinions align with the experts and influencers that they typically agree with.

Coverage Answer Question
High Agree Is free trade generally beneficial for a country?
Medium Disagree Did the US Government play a part in the 9/11 attacks?
Medium Mostly Disagree Should abortion be legal?
Medium Mostly Agree Should the federal government ban gay marriage?
Medium Agree Should the world embrace nuclear energy?
Medium Mostly Agree Is the theory of evolution falsified by fossil evidence?
Medium Neutral Do the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks?
Low Agree Are our enemies innately evil?
Low Neutral Is global warming caused primarily by humans?
Low Disagree Is abortion morally acceptable?
Low Mostly Agree Can the US military presence in Iraq help create democracy?
Low Agree Should gay and straight couples have the same legal benefits?
Low Neutral Did complex life evolve through the process of natural selection?
Low Disagree Should Intelligent Design be taught in science class?
Low Neutral Should the United States have Universal health care?
Low Neutral Is abstinence-only sex education effective?
Low Neutral Is it acceptable to target (i.e. kill) civilians in war?
Low Neutral Is revenge OK?
Low Agree Should the Kyoto protocol be adopted?
Low Agree Is it worthwhile to die for your beliefs?
Low Agree Is there life after death?
Low Neutral Can the military presence in Afghanistan help create democracy?
Low Neutral Is it legitimate for the US to label their enemies "terrorists"?
Low Neutral Is capitalism good?
Low Disagree Are we prepared for a pandemic?
Low Agree Is development aid to Africa effective?
Low Disagree Is the Holocaust a myth?