Guest Post: Paying Attention

Blogger here.  After posting an open invitation for guest posts, I received a number of responses from fellow writers and fans of Wallace.  This piece comes from Jean McEwan, an artist and writer from the UK, and is in response to Lipsky’s Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself.


These pieces were orginally made for Issue 3 of ‘This Is Water’  – a 7 day personal zine about trying to pay attention I make and self publish.

I started ‘This is Water’ ( which of course steals its name from David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon College speech) in 2010 as an attempt to personally and meaningfully engage with the ideas he talks about in the speech;  the importance of awareness, the difficulty of transcending our ‘natural, hard-wired default setting’ of being ‘deeply and literally self-centred’ and trying to live ‘consciously, adultly, day in and day out’.
Attention and compassion form the very deep core of DFW’s writing, and are the reason I return to his work, again and again.

The zine is my own modest attempt to practice attention by dedicating some time to noticing the ‘stuff’ of daily life for a week – and to record things I see, find, overhear, read, and say each day. The zine contains both words and images and are always hand-made, a page made each day, with the idea of giving time and respect to documenting these daily experiences.

Issue 3 was made over the New Year period when I spent a week at the seaside with family and friends. I had been given David Lipsky’s ‘Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace’ for Christmas and this was my holiday reading.  I had just finished re-reading Infinite Jest and I found Lipsy’s book, written shortly after the publication of Infinite Jest, both fascinating and almost unbearably sad.

Jean McEwan, UK based visual artist and independent curator

To find out more about Issues 1-3 of This Is Water, visit

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