Oblivion Stores

David Foster Wallace


Oblivion is many things, describable is not one of them (as is often the case for great books). A collection of short (and long) stories, it contains Good Old Neon, one of my favorites ever written, and The Suffering Channel, which houses this quote on the management of insignificance:

“The conflict between the subjective centrality of our own lives versus our awareness of its objective insignificance…this was the single great informing conflict of the American psyche. The management of insignificance.”

Good Old Neon is probably most known for its description of the Fraudulence Paradox, but it also has a bit on time & internal symphonies that goes like this: 

“What exactly do you think you are? The millions and trillions of thoughts, memories, juxtapositions — even crazy ones like this, you’re thinking — that flash through your head and disappear? Some sum or remainder of these? Your history… The truth is…That this is what it’s like. That it’s what makes room for the universes inside you, all the endless in-bent fractals of connection and symphonies of different voices, the infinities you can never show another soul…But at the same time it’s why it feels so good to break down and cry in front of others, or to laugh, or speak in tongues, or chant in Bengali — it’s not English anymore, it’s not getting squeezed through any hole.”