David Foster Wallace Quotes


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.

Not having a passport makes me very blasé about what appears in foreign periodicals since I know I'll never see it.

That what appears to be egoism so often isn't.

... it takes great personal courage to let yourself appear weak.

The first time I lay actual eyes on the real David Lynch on the set of his movie he's peeing on a tree...Mr. David Lynch a prodigious coffee drinker apparently pees hard and often.

I know I never work in whatever gets called an office e.g. a school office I use only for meeting students and storing books I know I'm not going to read anytime soon.

Dieting makes me want to murder everyone around me.

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.

And he wishes in the cold quiet of his archer's heart that he himself could feel the intensity of their reconciliations as strongly as he feels that of their battles.

It is tragic and sad and chaotic and lovely. All life is the same as citizens of the human State: the animating limits are within to be killed and mourned over and over again.

The interesting thing is why we're so desperate for this anesthetic against loneliness.

Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe the realest most vivid and important person in existence.

There's a weird kind of paradox that the more expensive the vacation is the more potentially anxiety-producing it is.

To make someone an icon is to make him an abstraction and abstractions are incapable of vital communication with living people.

People unless they're paying attention tend to confuse fanciness with intelligence or authority.

The severing of an established connection is exponentially more painful than the rejection of an attempted connection.

I believe I want adult sanity which seems to me the only unalloyed form of heroism available today.

One paradox of professional writing is that books written solely for money and/or acclaim will almost never be good enough to garner either.

I find in myself a need to get very away.

Perhaps this is what it means to go mad: to be emptied and to be aware of the emptiness.

We are not dead but asleep dreaming of ourselves.

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

Acceptance is usually more a matter of fatigue than anything else.

In the day-to-day trenches of adult life there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.

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

...the sun would leave my sky if I couldn't assume you'd simply come and tell me you were sad.

All I'm saying is that it's shortsighted to blame TV. It's simply another symptom. TV didn't invent our aesthetic childishness here any more than the Manhattan Project invented aggression.

Certain sincerely devout and spiritually advanced people believe that the God of their understanding helps them find parking places and gives them advice on Mass. Lottery numbers.

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

Advertising that makes fun of itself is so powerful because itimplicitly congratulates both itself and the viewer (for making the joke andgetting the joke respectively).

TV's "real" agenda is to be "liked " because if you like what you're seeing you'll stay tuned. TV is completely unabashed about this; it's its sole raison.

Mario what do you get when you cross an insomniac an unwilling agnostic and a dyslexic?

life's endless war against the self you cannot live without.

Do this: hate him for me after I die. I beg you. Dying request.

She took a sort of abject pride in her mecilessness toward herself.

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.

But of course there are all kinds of freedom and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying.

The desire for perfect release and the real-world impossibility of perfect whenever-you-want-it release had together produced a tension they could no longer stand.

I knew my limitations and the limitations of the courts I played on and adjusted thusly. I was at my best in bad conditions.

For these cultures getting rid of the pain without addressing the deeper cause would be like shutting off a fire alarm while the fire's still going.

It can become an exercise in trying to get the reader to like and admire you instead of an exercise in creative art.

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

That it is statistically easier for low-IQ people to kick an addiction than it is for high-IQ people...That boring activities become perversely much less boring if you concentrate intently on them.

For those who've never experienced a sunrise in the rural midwest it's roughly as soft and romantic as someone's abruptly hitting the lights in a dark room.

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

every failure is also a victory.

Footnote: 79) The anchor is gigantic and must weigh a hundred tons and -- delightfully -- it really is anchor-shaped i.e. the same shape as anchors in tattoos.

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

There happen to be whole large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom routine and petty frustration.

American experience seems to suggest that people are virtually unlimited in their need to give themselves away on various levels. Some just prefer to do it in secret.

Stay conscious and alive day in and day out.

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

For me boviscopophobia is an even stronger motive than semi-agoraphobia for staying on the ship when we're in port.

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.

Whatever you get paid attention for is never what you think is most important about yourself.

Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet and so does Mindy Metalman Lenore notices all of a sudden.

Rap's conscious response to the poverty and oppression of U.S. blacks is like some hideous parody of sixties black pride.

Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.

I will probably write an hour a day and spend eight hours a day biting my knuckle and worrying about not writing.

I received 500 000 discrete bits of information today of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it.

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

My bones are ringing the way sometimes people say their ears are ringing I'm so tired.

The entire ball game in terms of both the exam and life was what you gave attention to vs. what you willed yourself to not.

My chest bumps like a dryer with shoes in it.

sarcasm and jokes were often the bottle in which clinical depressives sent out their most plangent screams for someone to care and help them.

She wanted only tall smooth bottles whose labels spoke of Proof.

The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn the rolled eyes the cool smile the nudged ribs the parody of gifted ironists the â??Oh how banal.â??

The point of books is to combat loneliness.

The job of the first eight pages is not to have the reader want to throw the book at the wall during the first eight pages.

To be in a word unborable.... It is the key to modern life. If you are immune to boredom there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish

Nothing brings you together like a common enemy.

That everything is on fire slow fire and we're all less than a million breaths away from an oblivion more total than we can even bring ourselves to even try to imagine...

She had a brainy girls discomfort about her own beauty and its effects on folks.

When a solipsist dies ... everything goes with him.

Ideally each piece of art's its own unique object and its evaluation's always present-tense.

And when he came to he was flat on his back on the beach in the freezing sand and it was raining out of a low sky and the tide was way out.

If you worship power you will feel weak and afraid needing ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay

I love the way you love but I hate the way I'm supposed to love you back.

I often think I can see it in myself and in other young writers this desperate desire to please coupled with a kind of hostility to the reader.

I'd like to be the sort of person who can enjoy things at the time instead of having to go back in my head and enjoy them.

Scenery is here. Wish you were beautiful.

God seems to have a kind of laid-back management style Iâ??m not crazy about.

You have decided being scared is caused mostly by thinking.

It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.

Fiction's about what it is to be a human being.

Fiction is about what it is to be a human being.

There are no choices without personal freedom Buckeroo. It's not us who are dead inside. These things you find so weak and contemptible in us---these are just the hazards of being free.

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

He knew what the Beats know and what the great tennis player knows son: learn to do nothing with your whole head and body and everything will be done by what's around you.

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

Capital T-truth is about life before death.

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

I perhaps could have been somewhat better. One of the interesting things about playing competitive sports as a child is that you confront your own limitations rather starkly at a certain point.

We're not keen on the idea of the story sharing its valence with the reader. But the reader's own life 'outside' the story changes the story.

My worst character flaw that I'm conscious of is that I tend to think my way into circles instead of resolving anything. It's paralyzing and boring for people around me.

True heroism is minutes hours weeks year upon year of the quiet precise judicious exercise of probity and careâ??with no one there to see or cheer. This is the world.

Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.

It's in the democratic citizen's nature to be like a leaf that doesn't believe in the tree it's part of.

Everything Iâ??ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.

Almost anything that you pay close direct attention to becomes interesting.

I felt as I became a later and later bloomer alienated not just from my own recalcitrant glabrous little body but in a way from the whole elemental exterior I'd come to see as my co-conspirator.

I think it's easy to stop smoking; it's just hard not to commit a felony after you stop.

It's all very confusing. I think I'm very honest and candid but I'm also proud of how honest and candid I am -- so where does that put me?

I don't think writers are any smarter than other people. I think they may be more compelling in their stupidity or in their confusion.

Beauty is not the goal of competitive sports but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty.

The integrity of my sleep has been forever compromised sir.

I am concentrating docilely on the question why U.S. restrooms always appear to us as infirmaries for public distress the place to reagain control.

One of the things that makes Wittgenstein a real artist to me is that he realized that no conclusion could be more horrible than solipsism.

Fiction is one of the few experiences where loneliness can be both confronted and relieved.

It's probably hard to feel any sort of Romantic spiritual connection to nature when you have to make your living from it.

You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship.

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

Not that that mystical stuff's necessarily true: The only thing that's capital-T true is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it.

I had four hundred thousand pages of continental philosophy and lit theory in my head. And by God I was going to use it to prove to him that I was smarter than he was.

Why not? Why not?Why not not then if the best reasoning you can contrive is why not?

This is so American man: either make something your God and cosmos and then worship it or else kill it.

I'm screaming for help and everybody's acting as if I'm singing Ethel Merman covers...

The Moms revealed that if you're not crazy then speaking to someone who isn't there is termed apostrophe and is valid art.

I had kind of a midlife crisis at twenty which probably doesnâ??t augur well for my longevity

We will of course without hesitation use art to parody ridicule debunk or criticize ideologies.

The reason ... our pervasive cultural irony is at once so powerful and so unsatisfying is that an ironist is impossible to pin down.

Quentin Tarantino is interested in watching somebody's ear getting cut off; David Lynch is interested in the ear.

What TV is extremely good at - and realize that this is 'all it does' - is discerning what large numbers of people think they want and supplying it.

There is no hatred in my love for you. Only a sadness I feel all the more strongly for my inability to explain or describe it.

This might be one way to start talking about differences between the early postmodern writers of the fifties and sixties and their contemporary descendants.

Truly decent innocent people can be taxing to be around.

You get to decide what to worship.

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.

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

In reality 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.

You are what you love. No? You are completely and only what you would die for without as you say the thinking twice.

I tend to think of fiction as being mainly about characters and human beings and inner experience whereas essays can be much more expository and didactic and more about subjects or ideas.

Like so many other nerdy disaffected young people of that time I dreamed of becoming an 'artist' i.e. somebody whose adult job was original and creative instead of tedious and dronelike.

Look man we'd probably most of us agree that these are dark times and stupid ones but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is?

The problem is that once the rules of art are debunked and once the unpleasant realities the irony diagnoses are revealed and diagnosed 'then' what do we do?

This diagnosis can be done in about two lines. It doesn't engage anybody.

I had by thirteen developed a sort of Taoist hubris about my ability to control via non-control.

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

Dostoevski informs everybody; or he ought to.

The fun of reading as "an exchange between consciousnesses a way for human beings to talk to each other about stuff we can't normally talk about.

To be willing to sort of die in order to move the reader somehow. Even now I'm scared about how sappy this'll look in print saying this.

Every love story is a ghost story.

The reader becomes God for all textual purposes. I see your eyes glazing over so I'll hush.

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

I just think that fiction that isn't exploring what it means to be human today isn't art.

Please learn the pragmatics of expressing fear: sometimes words that seem to express really invoke. This can be tricky.

Does somebody have an explanation why there's human flesh on the hall window upstairs?

He suddenly felt nothing or rather Nothing a pre-tornadic stillness of zero sensation as if he were the very space he occupied.

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

Entertainment provides relief. Art provokes engagement.

Almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it.

We're kind of wishing some parents would come back. And of course we're uneasy about the fact that we wish they'd come back - I mean what's wrong with us?

...loneliness is not a function of solitude.

It seems important to find ways of reminding ourselves that most 'familiarity' is meditated and delusive.

People hate people not freedom.

It's like a fugue of evaded responsibility.

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.

â??Who would die for this chance to be fed this death of pleasure with spoons in their warm homes alone unmoving?

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

There are very few innocent sentences in writing.

We're all lonely for something we don't know we're lonely for. How else to explain the curious feeling that goes around feeling like missing somebody we've never even met?

I like the fansâ?? sound at night. Do you? Itâ??s like somebody big far away goes like: itâ??sOKitâ??sOKitâ??sOKitâ??sOK over and over. From very far away.

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

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.

I have filled 3 Mead notebooks trying to figure out whether it was Them or Just Me.

If your fidelity to perfectionism is too high you never do anything.

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

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.

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.

...Genuine pathological openness is about as seductive as Tourette's Syndrome.

...logical validity is not a guarantee of truth.

He said she went around with her feelings out in front of her with an arm around the feelings' windpipe and a Glock 9mm. to the feelings' temple like a terrorist with a hostage daring you to shoot.

I think TV promulgates the idea that good art is just art which makes people like and depend on the vehicle that brings them the art.

Good literature makes your head throb heartlike

Here is how to handle being a feral prodigy.

I don't want to hurt myself. I want to stop hurting.

The other half is to dramatize the fact that we still "are" human beings now. Or can be.

I am not what you see and hear. -Hal

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

So which is the lie? Hard or soft? Silence or time?

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

This is nourishing redemptive; we become less alone inside.

No single individual moment is in and of itself unendurable.

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

I'm very bright but I'm terrified of sounding like someone who thinks he's very bright-because those people are assholes.

I'd tell you all you want and more if the sounds I made could be what you hear

Writing fiction takes me out of time. I sit down and the clock will not exist for me for a few hours. Thatâ??s probably as close to immortal as weâ??ll ever get.

I wish you way more than luck.

...morning is the soul's night.

....basically the sort of guy who looks entirely at home in sockless white loafers and a mint-green knit shirt from Lacoste.

The man who knows his limitations has none.

I cannot say what color Lenore Beadsmanâ??s eyes are; I cannot look at them; they are the sun to me.

Fiction poetry music...these are the places (for me) where loneliness is countenanced stared down transfigured treated.

In fact the likeliest reason why so many of us care so little about politics is that modern politicians makes us sad hurt us deep down in ways that are hard even to name much less talk about.

Try to learn to let what is unfair teach you.

The way I think about things and experience things is not particularly linear and it's not orderly and it's not pyramidical and there are a lot of loops.

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

Mediocrity is contextual.

Most of us will still take nihilism over neanderthalism.

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

Do not underestimate objects.

There's good self-consciousness and then there's toxic paralyzing raped-by-psychic-Bedouins self-consciousness.

Pleasure becomes a value a teleological end in itself. It's probably more Western than U.S. per se.

The individual's right to pursue his own vision of the best ration of pleasure to pain: utterly sacrosanct.

There is such a thing as raw unalloyed agendaless kindness.

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

If Realism called it like it saw it Metafiction simply called it as it saw itself seeing itself see it.

There are secrets within secrets though--always.

It was when I was the age where you can as they say "hear voices" without worrying that something is wrong with you. I "heard voices" all the time as a small child.

I felt the sort of soaring ceilingless tedium that transcends tedium and becomes worry.

My personal belief is that because technology and economic logic has gotten so sophisticated cruelties can be perpetrated now that would have been unimaginable two or three hundred years ago.

You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.

So yo then man what's your story?

If you've never wept and want to have a child.