Our incorrigible and profound revulsion against identity

From Wallace Stegner’s potent On Teaching and Writing Fiction:

Of our incorrigible and profound revulsion against identity, I suppose that physical love is the simplest, most immediate, and for many the only expression. Some have their comfort in feeling that they belong to the world of nature . . .some commit themselves to the kingdom of God. There is much in all of them, but for you [the young writer], I imagine, not enough in any. For you it will have to be the kingdom of man, it will have to be art."

This reminds me particularly of the essay Jonathan Lethem wrote in The Disappointment Artist (also excerpted in The New Yorker) about immersing himself in books as a teen after the death of his mother.

It also reminds me more generally of the overarching theme of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.



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