An exceprt from my term paper (which I wrote one year before taking a class from DFW at Pomona) about Infinite Jest:
David Foster Wallace’s portrayals of addiction and obsession in American culture send a warning to his readers about the fragility of life and the dangerous traps in the pursuit of happiness. Wallace describes obsession as “a very American illness, the idea of giving yourself away entirely to the idea of working in order to achieve some sort of brass ring that usually involves people feeling some way about you – I mean, people wonder why we walk around feeling alienated and lonely and stressed out?” (Miller). The view that people are simply “chasing a carrot” in a futile attempt at success and acceptance by others reinforces the initial feelings of loneliness and stress that catalyze the pursuit of addiction in the first place. It is a cycle that, as the novel shows, has no happy ending.
Miller, Laura. “Interview With David Foster Wallace.” Salon. March 9-22 1996.