What writers have is a license and also the freedom to sit—to sit, clench their fists, and make themselves be excruciatingly aware of the stuff that we’re mostly aware of only on a certain level. And if the writer does his job right, what he basically does is remind the reader of how smart the reader is. Wake the reader up to stuff that the reader’s been aware of all the time.

David Foster Wallace quoted in The Howling Fantods Q&A with David Lipsky. Like I said, I wish Wallace had done stand-up comedy, too, because this attitude seems perfect for it. Isn’t that what many great comedians do? A voice in the wilderness kind of thing, standing apart or going deep and observing and noticing more than you, and pointing out these things in a way that makes you happy.

Q&A: David Lipsky | Mark Athitakis’ American Fiction Notes

From an interview with David Lipsky (via), here’s David Foster Wallace on the philosophical depth of country music:

Because that’s like pretty much all there is, when you’re tired of listening to Green Day on the one college station. And these country musics that are just so—you know, “Baby since you’ve left I can’t live, I’m drinking all the time.” And I remember just being real impatient with it. Until I’d been living here about a year. And all of a sudden I realized, what if you just imagined that this absent lover they’re singing to is just a metaphor? And what they’re really singing to is themselves, or to God, you know? “Since you’ve left I’m so empty I can’t live, my life has no meaning.” That in a weird way, they’re incredibly existentialist songs. That have the patina of the absent, of the romantic shit on it, just to make it salable… But that if you cock your ear and listen real close—that it’s deep, you know?… That we find, that art finds a way to take care of you, and take part. Kind of despite itself.

Q&A: David Lipsky | Mark Athitakis’ American Fiction Notes