"Yes, I remember growing up and really wanting to be a film-maker. I didn’t understand how films were made. There wasn’t a huge amount of information at the time. It seemed like an impossible dream to go off and become a director – there was no sure-fire route. There still isn’t. I remember going to the careers adviser at school and saying I want to be a director and he pretty much laughed at me and said, ‘Well you can’t!’
So when that book came out it was so inspiring because Rodriguez basically said, look, if you were a musician or a writer you would go off and write and write and no one ever sees what you do. And in the same way, if you play a guitar you will go off to your garage and practise until your fingers bleed and you are really good. With film you don’t get that opportunity. You get given a million pounds and you can often make a film which is a disaster because you don’t know what you are doing and you are practising as you go along. What Rodriguez said is, just grab hold of a camera and go off and shoot and practise, and that is how you learn by making your mistakes in private."
So what was your first project?
"I used to go off and make films with my friends when we were kids. My dad bought a video camera for me when I was about 14. I didn’t have any editing equipment but we would just edit in the camera, which is quite a good discipline. So you would be watching other films and ripping off ideas.
They were pretty sloppy horror films and slapstick comedies. Lots of Monty Python influences all ending in slapstick violence. But the good thing was I could get it out of my system and work out what worked and what doesn’t. And you realise that you can cut together something which is just as engaging as anything you see on TV, even if it isn’t as polished!"
"Whatever the explanation for his preoccupation with solipsism in Wittgenstein, Wallace never abandoned his fixation on sealed-off people. Few readers of Infinite Jest will forget the lonely fate of the Hal Incandenza, who becomes so alienated from the world that his speech becomes unintelligible to others, or the lifeless zombiehood that befalls anyone who watches the novel's eponymous film, which is so entertaining that its viewer becomes incapable of doing anything other than watch it. But Mark Costello pointed out to me an important irony: for someone as obsessed with isolation as Wallace, he was "obviously a social novelist, a novelist of noticed details, on a near-encyclopedic scale." Where other novelists dealing with solipsism, like Markson and Beckett, painted barren images with small compressed sentences, Costello observed, "Dave tackled the issue by massively overfilling his scenes and sentences to comic bursting"—indeed to the point of panicked overstimulation. There was a palpable strain for Wallace between engagement with the world, in all its overwhelming fullness, and withdrawal to one's own head, in all its loneliness. The world was too much, the mind alone too little. "You can't be anything but contemptible living for yourself," Costello said, summing up the dilemma. "But letting the world in—that sucks too."It's not exactly what you'd call an intellectual conundrum. But it was the lived one."