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Discussion of awareness is a way for Wallace to examine how individuals relate to their own world and to others around them. Often characters suffer through terrible anxiety and frustration from being almost too aware of their own Self and from trying to discover how they fit into the broader culture. Lenore Beadsman, the protagonist from The Broom of the System is just one of many examples.

This theme is present in nearly every piece of Wallace's writing. Infinite Jest, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Oblivion: Stories all deal with the problem/nature of awareness and self-consciousness extensively. For example, one theme running through Oblivion is the idea that "consciousness is nature's nightmare." This line is taken directly from "The Suffering Channel", but it the idea is important to "Oblivion", "Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature", and "Another Pioneer".

This theme relates closely to Communication and Self and Other.

Occurrences in Wallace's work