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David Foster Wallace Quotes
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David Foster Wallace Quote: “Apparently the term refugee can be plausibly denied if both – I’m quoting direct from Neil’s memo here – if both, a, no homemade wagons piled high with worldly goods are pulled by slow bovine animals with curvy horns, and b, if the percentage of children under six who are either, a, naked, or b, squalling at the top of their lungs, or c, both, is under 20% of the total number of children under six in transit.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “But what of Lenore, of Lenore’s hair? Here is hair that is clearly within and of itself every color – blond and red and jet-black-blue and honeynut – but which effects an outward optical compromise with possibility that consists of appearing simply dull brown, save for brief teasing glimpses out of the corner of one’s eye.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “What if there was something essentially wrong with Claude Sylvanshine that wasn’t wrong with other people? What if he was simple ill-suited, the way some people are born without limbs or certain organs? The neurology of failure. What if he was simply born and destined to live in the shadow of Total Fear and Despair, and all his so-called activities were pathetic attempts to distract him from the inevitable?”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “I am coming to see that the sensation of the worst nightmares, a sensation that can be felt asleep or awake, is identical to those worst dreams’ form itself: the sudden intra-dream realization that the nightmares’ very essence and center has been with you all along, even awake: it’s just been... overlooked; and then that horrific interval between realizing what you’ve overlooked and turning your head to look back at what’s been right there all along, the whole time...”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “One of the really American things about Hal, probably, is the way he despises what it is he’s really lonely for.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Unless he actually had a lit gasper going, Calvin Thrust always has this way of being only technically wherever he was. There was always this air of imminent departure about him, like a man whose beeper was about to sound. It’s like a lit gasper was psychic ballast for him or something. Everything he said to Gately seemed like it was going to be the last thing he said right before he looked at his watch and slapped his forehead and left.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “I fully grant that mysterious invisible room-cleaning is in a way great, every true slob’s fantasy, somebody materializing and deslobbing your room and then dematerializing – like having a mom without the guilt.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “People turned out so identical in certain root domestic particulars it made Gately feel strange sometimes, like he was in possession of certain overlarge private facts to which no man should be entitled.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Certain things not only can’t be taught but can be retarded by other stuff that can be taught.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “I will be conveyed to an Emergency Room of some kind, where I will be detained as long as I do not respond to questions, and then, when I do respond to questions, I will be sedated; so it will be an inversion of standard travel, the ambulance and ER: I’ll make the journey first, then depart.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Two dry mouths bumping at each other, trying to kiss, his self-conscious thoughts twisting around on themselves like a snake on a stick while he bucked and snorted dryly above her, his swollen eyes red and his face sagging so that its slack folds maybe touched, limply, the folds of her own loose sagging face as it sloshed back and forth on his pillow, its mouth working dryly. The thought was repellent.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “It’ll help your attitude to look for evidence of design.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Something almost too overt about the pathos of the posture: this exact position was illustrated in some melancholic Watteau-era print on the frontispiece to Yevtuschenko’s Field Guide to Clinical States.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “There are very few innocent sentences in writing.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “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.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “It would take an architect who could hate enough to feel enough to love enough to perpetrate the kind of special cruelty only real lovers can inflict.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Booboo, we’ve been over this. I can’t be asleep if we’re talking.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “I find in myself a need to get very away.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Nuclear weapons and TV have simply intensified the consequences of our tendencies, upped the stakes.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “What if I told you she could because she’s had this happen and she totally knows it’s possible to be just a thing but just like Victor Frankl that every minute from then on minute by minute if you want you can choose to be more if you want, you can choose to be a human being and have it mean something? Then what would you say?”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “She had gone to the state fair in Columbus once with her sister Clarice and they had gotten lost in the House of Mirrors and Clarice’s purse had been stolen by a man who had pretended to be a reflection until the very last moment.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “That it takes great personal courage to let yourself appear weak.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “People, unless they’re paying attention, tend to confuse fanciness with intelligence or authority.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “A real leader can somehow get us to do certain things that deep down we think are good and want to be able to do but usually can’t get ourselves to do on our own.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “I’ve already just completely opened up about my shame and my inability to be open and straightforward about this. You’re exposing something I’ve already held up to view. It’s your shame about being ashamed of what you’re afraid might be seen as a lack of brightness that’s getting to stay buried under this dead horse of my deformity that you’re trying to whip.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Seminal.” He keeps saying it. “Seminal, seminal.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “This might be one way to start talking about differences between the early postmodern writers of the fifties and sixties and their contemporary descendants.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “You can be at certain parties and not really be there.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “In life, the microphone passes your lips but once... you had better be ready to sing.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “The neurology of failure. What if he was simply born and destined to live in the shadow of Total Fear and Despair, and all his so-called activities were pathetic attempts to distract him from the inevitable?”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “That as people age, accumulate more and more private experiences, their sense of history tightens, narrows, becomes more personal? So that to the extent that they remember events of social importance, they remember only for example ‘where they were’ when such-and-such occurred. Et cetera et cetera. Objective events and data become naturally more and more subjectively colored.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Once he’d been set off inside, it mattered so much that he was somehow afraid to show how much it mattered.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “His white knit shirt and name-brand shorts were soaked through so you could see the straps of his jock biting into the soft ass I was handing him. He.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Also essential to math is the sense in which abstracting something can mean reducing it to its absolute skeletal essence, as in the abstract of an article or book. As such, it can mean thinking hard about things that for the most part people can’t think hard about-because it drives them crazy.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “The executive intern responded: ‘Do we all really value a painting more than a photograph anymore?”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “He didn’t reject the idea so much as not react to it and watch as it floated away.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “To presume that dictionary-making can somehow avoid or transcend ideology is simply to subscribe to a particular ideology, one that might aptly be called Unbelievably Naive Positivism.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “My father’s mood surrounded him like a field and affected any room he occupied, like an odor or a certain cast to the light.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Words and a book and a belief that the world is words...”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Writing fiction takes me out of time. I sit down and the clock will not exist for me for a few hours. That’s probably as close to immortal as we’ll ever get.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “People who’re somehow burned at birth, withered or ablated way past anything like what might be fair, they either curl up in their fire, or else they rise.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Ortho Stice played with a kind of rigid, liquid grace, like a panther in a back-brace.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Lonely people tend, rather, to be lonely because they decline to bear the psychic costs of being around other humans.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Datum: At least one-third of ancient rulers’ seers and magicians were in fact fired or killed early in their tenure because it emerged that the bulk of what they foresaw or intuited was irrelevant. Not incorrect, just irrelevant, pointless.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Every whole person has ambitions, objectives, initiatives, goals. This one particular boy’s goal was to be able to press his lips to every square inch of his own body. His arms to the shoulders and most of the legs beneath the knee were child’s play. After these areas of his body, however, the difficulty increased with the abruptness of a coastal shelf. The boy came to understand that unimaginable challenges lay ahead of him. He was six.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “I balked at trying antidepressants, I just couldn’t see myself taking pills to try to be less of a fraud.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “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.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Gentlemen- by which I mean, of course, latter adolescents who aspire to manhood gentlemen, here is a truth: Enduring tedium over real time in a confined space is what real courage is. Such endurance is, as it happens, the distillate of what is, today, in this world neither you nor I have made, heroism. Heroism.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “I begin to feel as though my thoughts and voice here are in some way the creative products of something outside me, not in my control, and yet that this shaping, determining influence outside me is still me. I feel a division which the outside voice posits as the labor pains of a nascent emotional conscience.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Dieting makes me want to murder everyone around me.”
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