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Top 500 David Foster Wallace Quotes (2024 Update)
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David Foster Wallace Quote: “The far north of Manitoba. Forbidding wastelands. The center of nothing.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “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?”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Respecting infinite sets, for example, Intuitionism is rabidly anti-Cantor and Formalism staunchly pro-Cantor, even though both Formalism and Intuitionism are anti-Plato and Cantor is a diehard Platonist. Which, migrainous or not, means we’re back to metaphysics: the modern wrangle over math’s procedures is ultimately a dispute over the ontological status of math entities.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “If some people read my fiction and see it as fundamentally about philosophical ideas, what it probably means is that these are pieces where the characters are not as alive and interesting as I meant them to be.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “If you really look at something, you can almost always tell what type of wage structure the person who made it was on.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “He has that rare spinal appreciation for beauty in the ordinary that nature seems to bestow on those who have no native words for what they see.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “The whole quantum setup ends up being embarrassing in the special way something pretentious is embarrassing when it’s also wrong.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “It’s unvarying and kind of spirit-killing for a Staffer to watch, that the only way your addict ever learns anything is the hard way. It has to happen to them to like upset the idolatry.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Another thing he laid in when he’d committed himself to one last marijuana vacation was petroleum jelly.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Like most North Americans of his generation, Hal tends to know way less about why he feels certain ways about the objects and pursuits he’s devoted to than he does about the objects and pursuits themselves. It’s hard to say for sure whether this is even exceptionally bad, this tendency.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “The really desolate areas can get pretty crowded, of course, sometimes, so it’s good to get there early, get as much wandering as you can in before noon.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “When he settles in with the tray and cartridge, the TP’s viewer’s digital display reads 1927h.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “I called a cab, still in my towel. I jumped in the cab before it had even stopped at the gate. I actually said, “The nearest library with a cutting-edge professional grief- and trauma-therapy section, and step on it.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “And girl-women, women, curved like instruments or fruit, skin burnished brown-bright, suit tops held by delicate knots of fragile colored string against the pull of mysterious weights, suit bottoms riding low over the gentle juts of hips totally unlike your own, immoderate swells and swivels that melt in light into a surrounding space that cups and accommodates the soft curves as things precious. You almost understand.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Like most clinically depressed patients, she appeared to function better in focused activity than in stasis. Their normal paralyzed stasis allowed these patients’ own minds to chew them apart. But it was always a titanic struggle to get them to do anything to help them focus.”
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: “Seminal.” He keeps saying it. “Seminal, seminal.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Like most religious mathematicians from Pythagoras to Godel, Bolzano believes that math is the Language of God and that profound metaphysical truths can be derived and proved mathematically.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “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.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “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.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “But it is not I the spy who have crept inside television’s boundaries. It is vice versa. Television, even the mundane little businesses of its production, has become my – our – own interior. And we seem a jaded, weary, but willing and above all knowledgeable Audience. And this knowledgeability utterly transforms the possibilities and hazards of “creativity” in television.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Then Poor Tony’s body began to swell. He watched his limbs become airy white dirigibles and felt them deny his authority and detach from him and float sluggishly up snout-first into the steel-mill sparks the ceiling rained. He suddenly felt nothing, or rather Nothing, a pre-tornadic stillness of zero sensation, as if he were the very space he occupied.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “I was looking at my sneakers and making my feet alternately pigeon-toed and then penguin-toed on the bedroom’s blue carpet.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “I fear this feeling more than I fear anything, man. More than pain, or my mom dying, or environmental toxicity. Anything.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “He considered getting up to check the color of the bong he’d be using but decided that obsessive checking and convulsive movements could compromise the atmosphere of casual calm he needed to maintain while he waited, protruding but not moving, for the woman he’d met at a design session for his agency’s small campaign for her small theater company’s new Wedekind festival, while he waited for this woman, with whom he’d had intercourse twice, to honor her casual promise.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “The thing about people who are truly and malignantly crazy: their real genius is for making the people around them think they themselves are crazy.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “It always seems to be important to have at least one person in the vicinity to hate.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “That females are capable of being just as vulgar about sexual and eliminatory functions as males.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Lenore, it’s simply that I love you. You know that. Every fiber of your being is loved by every fiber of my being. The thought of things about you, concerning you, troubling you, that I don’t know about, makes blood run from my eyes, on the inside.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Mathematical thinking is abstract, but it’s also thoroughly private-sector and results-oriented.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “It’s not what you lift, it’s where you carry it.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “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 I nor you have made, heroism.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “The kid has no idea he even knows something’s wrong.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “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.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “It’s painful to believe that the would-be “public servants” you’re forced to choose between are all phonies whose only real concern is their own care and feeding and who will lie so outrageously and with such a straight face that you know they’ve just got to believe you’re an idiot. So who wouldn’t yawn and turn away, trade apathy and cynicism for the hurt of getting treated with contempt?”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Breasts are uniformly zeppelinesque and in various perilous stages of semiconfinement.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “It’s when people begin to fancy that they actually know something about literature that they cease to be literarily interesting, or even of any use to those that are.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Disappear inside the game: break through limits: transcend: improve: win.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “In other words, Cantor is able to show that real numbers themselves can serve as the limits of fundamental sequences of reals, meaning his system of definitions is self-enclosed and VIR-proof.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Aren’t there parts of ourselves that are just better left unfed?”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Hence also the weird viewer complicity behind TV’s sham “breakthrough programs”: Joe Briefcase needs that PR-patina of “freshness” and “outrageousness” to quiet his conscience while he goes about getting from television what we’ve all been trained to want from it: some strangely American, profoundly shallow, and eternally temporary reassurance.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “What if in fact there were ever only two really distinct individual people walking around back there in history’s mist? That all difference descends from this difference? The whole and the partial. The damaged and the intact. The deformed and the paralyzingly beautiful. The insane and the attendant. The hidden and the blindingly open. The performer and the audience. No Zen-type One, always rather Two, one upside-down in a convex lens.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “The examiners call their children their little Line 40s. That’s of course where you enter your CCDC from Form 2441 on the 1040. Some of the children were playing Collections. Near the horseshoe courts. Some of the older children. Liens on the toys, a jeopardy assessment and seizure of some of the smaller childrens’ plates; there was some of the usual crying.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what’s wrong, because they’ll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “It’s always the same sort of grim windy Northeast November day where if you were at home you’d be eating earth-tone soups in a warm kitchen, listening to the wind and glad of home and hearth.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “That sometimes human beings have to just sit in one place and, like, hurt.”
David Foster Wallace Quote: “She regarded the things that were important to me as her enemy, not realizing that they were, in fact, the “me” she seemed so jealously to covet.”
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.”
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