Over the Wall of Self: A Found Poem by David Foster Wallace
After writing about This is Water by David Foster Wallace a couple weeks ago, I ended up listening to the beginning of a documentary, Endnotes, done by BBC. The opening, in Wallace’s own words, struck me as a kind of poem which I’m including here. These are words that could serve as inspiration for anyone who writes and reads—
There’s something magical for me
about literature and fiction
and I think it can do things
not only that pop culture can’t do,
but that are urgent now.
One is that by creating a character
in a piece of fiction you can allow
over the wall of self
and to imagine himself
being not just somewhere else
but someone else.
In a way that television and movies
that no other form can do
because people I think are essentially lonely and alone
and frightened of being alone.
I love his sense of urgency here. And his honesty—his vulnerability. And this image of leaping over the wall of self.
His comments also dovetail well with a New York Times article on the benefits of reading literary fiction–a study which appeared in the journal Science that demonstrated a link between reading literary fiction and developing empathy and emotional intelligence.
The photo can be found here. (I believe it’s someone doing Parkour.)