Top 84 David Foster Wallace Quotes

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.


Mario, what do you get when you cross an insomniac, an unwilling agnostic and a dyslexic?””I give.””You get someone who stays up all night torturing himself mentally over the question of whether or not there’s a dog.


Mary had a little lamb, its fleece electrostatic / And everywhere Mary went, the lights became erratic.


The integrity of my sleep has been forever compromised, sir.


Psychotics, say what you want about them, tend to make the first move.


Everything takes time. Bees have to move very fast to stay still.


It’s always seemed a little preposterous that Hamlet, for all his paralyzing doubt about everything, never once doubts the reality of the ghost. Never questions his own madness might not in fact be unfeigned.


This is why they started us here so young: to give ourselves away before the age when the questions ‘why’ and ‘to what’ grow real beaks and claws.


We are all dying to give our lives away to something, maybe. God or Satan, politics or grammar, topology or philately (…) To games or needles, to some other person.


The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.


Worship your body, beauty, and sexual allure and you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you.


Think of the old cliché about the mind being ‘an excellent servant but a terrible master’. This, like many clichés, so lame & banal on the surface, actually expresses a great & terrible truth.


Why is the truth usually not just un- but anti-interesting?


When a solipsist dies … everything goes with him.


I’m so scared of dying without ever being really seen.


Words and a book and a belief that the world is words…


No one can call themselves a writer until he or she has written at least fifty stories.


What I know about auto racing could be inscribed with a dry Magic Marker on the lip of a Coke bottle.


How is there freedom to choose if one does not learn how to choose?


Lonely people tend, rather, to be lonely because they decline to bear the psychic costs of being around other humans. They are allergic to people. People affect them too strongly.


Tell them there are no holes for your fingers in the masks ofmen. Tell them how could you ever even hope to love what you can’tgrab onto.


There’s been time this whole time. You can’t kill time with your heart. Everything takes time.


Time wasn’t passing so much as kneeling beside him in a torn tee-shirt disclosing the rodent-nosed tits of a man who disdains the care of his once-comely bod.


she committed suicide by putting her extremities down the garbage disposal-first one arm and then, kind of miraculously if you think about it, the other arm.


When he smoked marijuana he tended to masterbate a great deal.


I do things like get in a taxi and say, “The library, and step on it.


I guess a bit part of serious fiction’s purpose is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull, to give her imaginative access to other selves.


For reasons that are not well understood, war’s codes are safer for most of us than love’s.


There is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.


Real leaders are people who “help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better, harder things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.


I read,’ I say. ‘I study and read. I bet I’ve read everything you’ve read. Don’t think I haven’t. I consume libraries. I wear out spines and ROM drives. I do things like get in a taxi and say, “The library, and step on it.


Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human i


You decide. You be the judge. It says You are welcome regardless of severity. Severity is in the eye of the sufferer, it says. Pain is pain.


Nuclear weapons and TV have simply intensified the consequences of our tendencies.


Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.


If an art form is marginalized it’s because it’s not speaking to people.


Of course, the fact that Dostoevsky can tell a juicy story isn’t enough to make him great. If it were, Judith Krantz and John Grisham would be great fiction writers, and by any but the most commercial standards they’re not even very good.


How odd I can have all this inside me and to you it’s just words.


Some words have to be explicitly uttered, Lenore. Only by actually uttering certain words does one really DO what one SAYS. ‘Love’ is one of those words, performative words. Some words can literally make things real.


I don’t think irony’s meant to synergize with anything as heartfelt assadness.


For me, boviscopophobia (=the morbid fear of being seen as bovine) is an even stronger motive than semi-agoraphobia for staying on the ship when we’re in port.


…having a lot of money does not immunize people from suffering or fear.


It’s weird to feel like you miss someone you’re not even sure you know.


Learning how to think’ really means learning how to exercise some control over how & what you think. It means being conscious & aware enough to choose what you pay attention to & to choose how you construct meaning from experience.


The parts of me that used to think I was different or smarter or whatever, almost made me die.


[I]f the writer does his job right, what he basically does is remind the reader of how smart the reader is.


The reasons that center on others are easy to manipulate. All hollow things are light.


The fraud part of me was always there, just as a puzzle piece, objectively speaking, is a true piece of the puzzle even before you see how it fits.


…most Substance-addicted people are also addicted to thinking, meaning they have a compulsive and unhealthy relationship with their own thinking.


[T]o really try to be informed and literate today is to feel stupid nearly all the time, and to need help.


Be on guard. The road widens, and many of the detours are seductive.


To experience commitment as the loss of options, a type of death, the death of childhood’s limitless possibility, of the flattery of choice without duress-this will happen, mark me. Childhood’s end.


Hal finds he rather envies a man who feels he has something to explain his being fucked up, parents to blame it on.


I think I was very often bored as a child, but boredom is not what I knew it as—what I knew was that I worried a lot


It did what all ads are supposed to do: create an anxiety relievable by purchase.


She was terrified of everything, and terrified to show it.


…the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.


It’s no accident that in a bureaucracy getting fired is called ‘termination,’ as in ontological erasure.


We’re all on each other’s food chain. All of us. It’s an individual sport. Welcome to the meaning of individual. We’re each deeply alone here. It’s what we all have in common, this aloneness.


I’m not afraid of new things. I’m just afraid of feeling alone even when there’s somebody else there. I’m afraid of feeling bad. Maybe that’s selfish, but it’s the way I feel.


God, what a ghastly enterprise to be in, though–and what an odd way to achieve success. I’m an exhibitionist who wants to hide, but is unsuccessful at hiding; therefore, somehow I succeed.


The assumption that you everyone else is like you. That you are the world. The disease of consumer capitalism. The complacent solipsism.


Commercial comedy’s often set up to feature an ironist makingdevastating sport of someone who’s naive or sentimental or pretentious orpompous.


The mother at thirty with face commencing to display the faint seams of the plan for the second face life had in store for her and which she feared would be her own mother’s


The most dangerous thing about an academic education is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract thinking instead of simply paying attention to what’s going on in front of me.


I never, even for a moment, doubted what they’d told me. This is why it is that adults and even parents can, unwittingly, be cruel: they cannot imagine doubt’s complete absence. They have forgotten.


His parents’ pregnancies must have been all-out chromosomatic war


You might consider how to escape from a cage must surely require, foremost, awareness of the fact of the cage.


A novelist has to know enough about a subject to fool the passenger next to him on an airplane.


And it never even occurs to them their certainty that they are different is what makes them the same.


I think the main function of contemporary irony is to protect thespeaker from being interpreted as naive or sentimental.


The worst thing about irony for me is that it attenuates emotion.


Why do prostitutes when they get straight always try and get so prim? It’s like long-repressed librarian-ambitions come flooding out.


Gately can’t even imagine what it would be like to be a sober and drug-free biker. It’s like what would be the point. He imagines these people polishing the hell out of their leather and like playing a lot of really precise pool.


For me, art that’s alive and urgent is about what it is to be a human being.


This appetite to choose death by pleasure if it is available to choose – this appetite of your people unable to choose appetites, this is the death.


Your personal will is the web your disease sits and spins in. The will you call your own ceased to be yours as of who knows how many Substance-drenched years ago.


Talent is its own expectation, Jim: you either live up to it or it waves a hankie, receding forever.


I mean, Tarantino is such a SHMUCK 90 percent of the time. But ten percent of the time, I’ve seen genius shining off the guy.


What if, when Tracy Austin writes that after her 1989 car crash, ‘I quickly accepted that there was nothing I could do about it,’ the statement is not only true but exhaustively descriptive of the entire acceptance process she went through?


The real, many-veiled answer to the question of just what goes through a great player’s mind as he stands at the center of hostile crowd-noise and lines up the free-throw that will decide the game might well be: nothing at all.


LaMont, the truth is that the world is incredibly, incredibly, unbelievably old. You suffer with the stunted desire caused by one of its oldest lies. Do not believe the photographs. Fame is not the exit from any cage.


The great thing about irony is that it splits things apart, gets up above them so we can see the flaws and hypocrisies and duplicates.


This is nourishing, redemptive; we become less alone inside.



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