David Foster Wallace

David Foster

American Novelist, Short Story Writer, Essayist and Professor of English and Creative Writing

Author Quotes

There?s been time this whole time. You can?t kill time with your heart. Everything takes time.

This is how I feel, I can't name it straight out but it seems important, do you feel it too?-- this sort of direct question is not for the squeamish. For one thing, it's perilously close to 'Do you like me? Please like me,' which you know quite well that 99% of all the inter-human manipulation and bullshit gamesmanship that goes on goes on precisely because the idea of saying this sort of thing straight out is regarded as somehow obscene.

To be envied, admired, is not a feeling. Nor is fame it feeling. There are feelings associated with fame, but few of them are any more enjoyable than the feelings associated with envy of fame.

Try to learn to let what is unfair teach you.

We think of ourselves now as eaters of the pie instead of makers of the pie...Corporations make the pie. They make it and we eat it.

What if the preacher or father?s saying ?Someone here?s lost and hopeless? was tantamount to those Sun-Times horoscopes that are specially designed to be so universally obvious that they always give their horoscope readers that special eerie feeling of particularity and insight, exploiting the psychological fact that most people are narcissistic and prone to the illusion that they and their problems are uniquely special and that if they?re feeling a certain way then surely they?re the only person who is feeling like that.

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

The true opponent, the enfolding boundary, is the player himself. Always and only the self out there, on court, to be met, fought, brought to the table to hammer out terms. The competing boy on the net?s other side: he is not the foe: he is more the partner in the dance. He is the what is the word excuse or occasion for meeting the self. As you are his occasion. Tennis?s beauty?s infinite roots are self-competitive. You compete with your own limits to transcend the self in imagination and execution. Disappear inside the game: break through limits: transcend: improve: win. Which is why tennis is an essentially tragic enterprise, to improve and grow as a serious junior, with ambitions. You seek to vanquish and transcend the limited self whose limits make the game possible in the first place. 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.

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.

There's a grosser irony about Politically Correct English. This is that PCE purports to be the dialect of progressive reform but is in fact--in its Orwellian substitution of the euphemisms of social equality for social equality itself--of vastly more help to conservatives and the US status quo than traditional SNOOT prescriptions ever were. Were I, for instance, a political conservative who opposed using taxation as a means of redistributing national wealth, I would be delighted to watch PC progressives spend their time and energy arguing over whether a poor person should be described as low-income or economically disadvantaged or pre-prosperous rather than constructing effective public arguments for redistributive legislation or higher marginal tax rates... In other words, PCE acts as a form of censorship, and censorship always serves the status quo.

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

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.

Try to let what is unfair teach you?what is unfair can be a stern but invaluable teacher?you can be shaped, or you can be broken. There is not much in between. Try to learn. Be coachable. Try to learn from everybody, especially those who fail. This is hard.

We will, of course, without hesitation use art to parody, ridicule, debunk, or criticize ideologies--but this is very different.

What metro Boston AAs are trite but correct about is that both destiny's kisses and its dope-slaps illustrate an individual person's basic personal powerlessness over the really meaningful events in their life: i.e., almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it. Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trench-coated out of an alley with some sort of Psst that you usually can't even hear because you're in such a rush to or from something important you've tried to engineer.

The really significant education in thinking that we're supposed to get at a [liberal arts college] isn't really about the capacity to think but, rather, the choice of what to think about

The true thoughts that go on inside us are just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of, at most, one tiny little part of us at any given instant.

There are no choices without personal freedom?We say that one cannot be human without freedom? Your freedom is the freedom from, no one tells your precious individual USA selves what they must do. It is this meaning only, this freedom from constraint, and forced duress. But what of the freedom to? Not just free from. Not all compulsion comes from the without? how for the person to freely choose?

There's a kind of Ah-ha! Somebody at least for a moment feels about something or sees something the way that I do. It doesn't happen all the time. It's these brief flashes or flames, but I get that sometimes. I feel unalone?intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. I feel human and unalone and that I'm in a deep, significant conversation with another consciousness in fiction and poetry in a way that I don't with other art.

This is so stupid it practically drools.

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.

Trying to be anti-cool is just one exponent off trying to be cool -- it's the same beast.

We, tourists can enjoy our feelings in favor of animal rights with stomachs full of bacon.

What passes for hip cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human, since to be really human... is probably to be unavoidably sentimental and na?ve and goo-prone and generally pathetic.

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

Author Picture
First Name
David Foster
Last Name
Birth Date
Death Date

American Novelist, Short Story Writer, Essayist and Professor of English and Creative Writing