In the quotation below, author David Foster Wallace touches on a core aspect of the Modernist movement of literature and art: there are Grand Narratives, inherent truths, that guide our lives. These narratives are “how things should be.” The chaos and disruption caused by WWI made it seem like those Grand Narratives were gone. Think of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land,” a sort of Modernist interpretation of the Fisher King story. Something is wrong, and the “kingdom” suffers for it. The land is barren, the people confused and desperate. Nothing will be okay until whatever it is that is “wrong” is restored. Modernist art both fears this disruption and views it as an opportunity for evolution.

In personal knowledge management, we attempt to gain control over the information overload in our lives. It’s easy to speak of personal knowledge management from a place of desperation and confusion. There’s something fundamentally wrong in how our society interacts with information, so we attempt to right it.

For me – I mean, a lot of the motivation had to do with, it seems to me, that so much of pre-millennial life in America consists of enormous amounts of what seem like discrete bits of information coming, and that the real kind of intellectual adventure is finding ways to relate them to each other and to find larger patterns and meanings, which of course is essentially narrative, but that structurally it’s a bit different.1

  1. [[Bookworm]] interview with [[David Foster Wallace]] ↩︎