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Top 500 David Foster Wallace Quotes (2024 Update)
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David Foster Wallace Quote: “If you close your eyes on a busy urban sidewalk the sound of everybody’s different footwear’s footsteps all put together sounds like something getting chewed by something huge and tireless and patient.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “You know those mass-market cartridges, for the masses? The ones that are so bad they’re somehow perversely good? This was worse than that.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “You just never quite occurred out there, kid.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Alls – how it’s possible even the worst things that can happen to you can end up being positive factors in who you are.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “The happy pleasure of the person alone, yes?”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “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.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Over half the admits to psych wards are things like cheerleaders who swallow two bottles of Mydol over a high-school breakup or gray lonely asexual depressing people rendered inconsolable by the death of a pet. The cathartic trauma of actually going in somewhere.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “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.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “I had to face: I had chosen. My choice, this was love. I had chosen I think the way out of the chains of the cage. I needed this woman. Without her to choose over myself, there was only pain and not choosing, rolling drunkenly and making fantasies of death.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “One of the great Greek contributions to the very concept of mathematics was the conscious recognition and emphasis of the fact that mathematical entities are abstractions, ideas entertained by the mind and sharply distinguished from physical objects or pictures.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “I think the world divides neatly into those who are excited by the managed induction of terror and those who are not. I do not find terror exciting. I find it terrifying.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “To make a long story short, Cantorian set theory helps unify and clarify math in the sense that all mathematical entities can now be understood as fundamentally the same kind of thing-a set.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “He was unsure what the thing inside him was and was unprepared to commit himself to the course of action that would be required to explore the question.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “No, what they want is to experience a passion so huge, overwhelming, powerful and irresistible that it obliterates any guilt or tension or culpability they might feel about betraying their perceived responsibilities.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “The sky is low and gray and loose and seems to hang. There’s something baggy about the sky.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Basically what you’re doing when you’re writing fiction is telling a lie, he tells those of us in the seminar; and the psychology of reading dictates that we’re willing to buy only what coheres, on some gut level, with what we already believe.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “There’s something elementally horrific about waking before dawn.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “By all means don’t THINK about the validity of what they’re claiming your life hinges on. Oh do not ask what IS it. Do not ask not whether it’s not insane. Simply open wide for the spoon.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Dostoevski informs everybody; or he ought to.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “I felt despair. The word’s overused and banalified now, despair, but it’s a serious word, and I’m using it seriously. For me it denotes a simple admixture – a weird yearning for death combined with a crushing sense of my own smallness and futility that presents as a fear of death. It’s maybe close to what people call dread or angst. But it’s not these things, quite. It’s more like wanting to die in order to escape the unbearable feeling of becoming aware that I’m small and weak and selfish and going without any doubt at all to die. It’s wanting to jump overboard.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “He was trying to pay close attention to his surroundings as a way to avert thought and anxiety.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Every two or three generations the world gets vastly different, and the context in which you have to learn how to be a human being, or to have good relationships, or decide whether or not there is a God, or decide whether there’s such a thing as love, and whether it’s redemptive, become vastly different. And the structures with which you can communicate those dilemmas, or have characters struggle with them, seem to become appropriate and then inappropriate again and so on.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Her expression is from Page 18 of the Victoria’s Secret catalogue.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “The inactive viewer’s screen is the color of way out over the Atlantic looking straight down on a cold day.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “His hands were no bigger than a four-year-old girl’s. It was surreal. This massive authoritative figure, with a huge red meaty face and thick walrus mustache and dewlaps and a neck that spilled over the rim of his shirt-collar, and his hands were tiny and pink and hairless and butt-soft, delicate as shells. The hands were the capper. I barely made it out of the office before it started.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “The wraith responds vehemently that... No! No! Any conversation or interchange is better than none at all, to trust him on this, that the worst kind of gut-wrenching intergenerational interface is better than withdrawal or hiddenness on either side.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Himself had apparently thought the stilted, wooden quality of nonprofessionals helped to strip away the pernicious illusion of realism and to remind the audience that they were in reality watching actors acting and not people behaving.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “The big thing that makes Dostoevsky invaluable for American readers and writers is that he appears to possess degrees of passion, conviction, and engagement with deep moral issues that we-here, today-cannot or do not permit ourselves.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Babies are famous to themselves.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Cornell University Press announced plans for a festschrift.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “That distinctive singular stamp of himself is one of the main reasons readers come to love an author. The way you can just tell, often within a couple paragraphs, that something is by Dickens, or Chekhov, or Woolf, or Salinger, or Coetzee, or Ozick. The quality’s almost impossible to describe or account for straight out – it mostly presents as a vibe, a kind of perfume of sensibility – and critics’ attempts to reduce it to questions of “style” are almost universally lame.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Some days you can almost see Hal like flit in and out of a match, like some part of him leaves and hovers and then comes back.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “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.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “It seems important to find ways of reminding ourselves that most “familiarity” is meditated and delusive.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “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.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “His parents’ pregnancies must have been all-out chromosomatic war.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Help,” the working Account Representative called, feeling the stir of a tinily remembered humid wind and pausing, again, to look behind him, past the Brougham’s black hood and the carelessly dropped safety helmet beside the white cycle, at the Ramp that spiraled up and out of sight toward a street, empty and bright, before the Building, empty and bright, dispossessed, autonomous and autonomic. Bent to what two lives required, below everything, he called for help again and again.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “It’s the digitals. Leith has that word he uses for the shift from analogs to digitals. That word he uses about eleven times an hour.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “That everybody’s sneeze sounds different.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Let’s not sit around and give each other hand-jobs.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Americans seemed no longer united so much by common beliefs as by common images: what binds us became what we stand witness to.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Hal wills himself to stay objective and not form any judgments before he has serious data, hoping desperately for some sort of hopeful feeling to emerge.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “The weird thing is that I cared about him at the same time I found him gross. He grossed me out... And that I was so deep in my problem that I couldn’t accept real, genuine, nonsexual or nonromantic or non-prettiness-type interest in me even if it was offered to me.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “So while a thing in a finite time cannot come in contact with things quantitatively infinite, it can come in contact with things infinite in respect of divisibility: for in this sense the time itself is also infinite.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “John Ziegler is not a journalist-he is an entertainer. Or maybe it’s better to say that he is part of a peculiar, modern, and very popular type of news industry, one that manages to enjoy authority and influence of journalism without the stodgy constraints of fairness, objectivity, and responsibility that make trying to tell the truth such a drag for everyone involved. It is a frightening industry, though not for any of the simple reasons most critics give.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “No horror on earth or elsewhere could equal watching your own offspring open his mouth and have nothing come out.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “She wanted only tall smooth bottles whose labels spoke of Proof.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “It may well be that we spectators, who are not divinely giftes as athletes, are the only ones truly able to see, articulate and animate the experience of the gift we are denied.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “It’s a tradition: The Stick. Something so much an extension of you deserves a sobriquet.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “An alcohol hangover was definitely no frolic in the psychic glade, all thirsty and sick and your eyes bulging and receding with your pulse, but after a night of involved hallucinogens Hal said the dawn seemed to confer on his psyche a kind of pale sweet aura, a luminescence. Halation, Axford observed.”
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