David Foster Wallace

David Foster
Wallace
1962
2008

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

Author Quotes

Gentlemen, here is a truth: Enduring tedium over real time in a confined space is what real courage is... True heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious exercise of probity and care--with no one there to see or cheer.

Hal Incandenza has an almost obsessive dislike for deLint, whom he tells Mario he sometimes cannot quite believe is even real, and tries to get to the side of, to see whether deLint has a true z coordinate or is just a cutout or projection.

Hear this or not, as you will. Learn it now, or later -- the world has time. Routine, repetition, tedium, monotony, ephemeracy, inconsequence, abstraction, disorder, boredom, angst, ennui -- these are the true hero's enemies, and make no mistake, they are fearsome indeed. For they are real.

I am also concerned not to come off as shrill or preachy when what I really am is more like confused.

I didn't stand for anything. If I wanted to matter - even just to myself - I would have to be less free, by deciding to choose in some kind of definite way.

A thing among things, its self's soul so much vapor aloft, falling as rain and then rising, the sun up and down like a yoyo.

Among pernicious myths is the one where people always get very upbeat and generous and other-directed right before they eliminate their own map for keeps. The truth is that the hours before a suicide are usually an interval of enormous conceit and self-involvement.

And we hate this possibility in movies; we hate this both shit. Both comes off as sloppy characterization, muddy filmmaking, lack of focus... But I submit that the real reason we criticized and disliked Lynch's Laura's muddy bothness is that it required of us an empathetic confrontation with the exact same muddy bothness in ourselves and our intimates that makes the real world of moral selves so tense and uncomfortable, a bothness we go to the movies to get a couple hours' fucking relief from.

A true Democratic Spirit is up there with religious faith and emotional maturity and all those other top-of-the-Maslow-Pyramid-type qualities that people spend their whole lives working on. A Democratic Spirit's constituent rigor and humility and self-honesty are, in fact, so hard to maintain on certain issues that it's almost irresistibly tempting to fall in with some established dogmatic camp and to follow that camp's line on the issue and to let your position harden within the camp and become inflexible and to believe that he other camps are either evil or insane and to spend all your time and energy trying to shout over them.

An academic definition of Lynchian might be that the term refers to a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former's perpetual containment within the latter. But like postmodern or pornographic, Lynchian is one of those Porter Stewart-type words that's ultimately definable only ostensively-i.e., we know it when we see it. Ted Bundy wasn't particularly Lynchian, but good old Jeffrey Dahmer, with his victims' various anatomies neatly separated and stored in his fridge alongside his chocolate milk and Shedd Spread, was thoroughgoingly Lynchian. A recent homicide in Boston, in which the deacon of a South Shore church reportedly gave chase to a vehicle that bad cut him off, forced the car off the road, and shot the driver with a highpowered crossbow, was borderline Lynchian. A Rotary luncheon where everybody's got a comb-over and a polyester sport coat and is eating bland Rotarian chicken and exchanging Republican platitudes with heartfelt sincerity and yet all are either amputees or neurologically damaged or both would be more Lynchian than not.

And when he came to, he was lying on his back on a beach on the sand and very cold rain fell from a low sky and the tide was way off.

A U.S. of modern A. where the State is not a team or a code, but a sort of sloppy intersection of desires and fears, where the only public consensus a boy must surrender to is the acknowledged primacy of straight-line pursuing this flat and short-sighted idea of personal happiness: The happy pleasure of the person alone, yes?

An ad that pretends to be art is -- at absolute best -- like somebody who smiles warmly at you only because he wants something from you. This is dishonest, but what's sinister is the cumulative effect that such dishonesty has on us: since it offers a perfect facsimile or simulacrum of goodwill without goodwill's real spirit, it messes with our heads and eventually starts upping our defenses even in cases of genuine smiles and real art and true goodwill. It makes us feel confused and lonely and impotent and angry and scared. It causes despair.

Apeshit has rarely enjoyed so literal a denotation.

A vogue word ? becomes trendy because a great deal of listening, talking, and writing for many people takes place below the level of consciousness. It happens very fast. They don?t pay it very much attention, and they?ve heard it a lot. It kind of enters into the nervous system. They get the idea, without it ever being conscious, that this is the good, current, credible way to say this, and they spout it back. And for people outside, say, the corporate business world or the advertising world, it becomes very easy to make fun of this kind of stuff. But in fact, probably if we look carefully at ourselves and the way we?re constantly learning language... a lot of us are very sloppy in the way that we use language. And another advantage of learning to write better, whether or not you want to do it for a living, is that it makes you pay more attention to this stuff. The downside is stuff begins bugging you that didn?t bug you before. If you?re in the express lane and it says, ?10 Items or Less,? you will be bugged because less is actually inferior to fewer for items that are countable. So you can end up being bugged a lot of the time.

An unpopular apres-garde filmmaker (Watt) either suffers a temporal lobe seizure and becomes mute or else is the victim of everyone else?s delusion that his (Watt?s) temporal lobe seizure has left him mute.

Apparently there are people deeply fearful of their own emotions, especially painful. Deep sorrow, regret, sadness. In particular sadness, perhaps. Like something that feels completely real and had no end or background. Something that could become infinite and catch them.

Abiding. No one single instant of it was unendurable. Here was the second right here: he endured it. What was undealable-with was the thought of all the instants all lined up and stretching ahead, glittering... It's too much to think about. To Abide there. But none of it's as of now real... He could just hunker down in the space between each heartbeat and make each heartbeat a wall and live in there. Not let his head look over. What's unendurable is what his own head could make of it all. What his head could report to him, looking over and ahead and reporting. But he could choose not to listen; he could treat his head like G. Day or R. Lenz: clueless noise.

And a funny thing happens. The man begins to like the Thermos woman. Not love, but like, which is something the man has never experienced before, and finds different, because it involves directing a lot more emotional attention to the actual other person than the old uncontrollable passionate love had involved, involves caring about the whole other person, including the facets and features that have nothing whatsoever to do with the man.

Are we not all of us fanatics? I say only what you of the U.S.A. pretend you do not know. Attachments are of great seriousness. Choose your attachments carefully. Choose your temple of fanaticism with great care. What you wish to sing of as tragic love is an attachment not carefully chosen. Die for one person? This is a craziness. Persons change, leave, die, become ill. They leave, lie, go mad, have sickness, betray you, die. Your nation outlives you. A cause outlives you.

Abstruse dullness is actually a much more effective shield than is secrecy. For the great disadvantage of secrecy is that it?s interesting.

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.

Aren't there parts of ourselves that are just better left unfed?

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

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

Author Picture
First Name
David Foster
Last Name
Wallace
Birth Date
1962
Death Date
2008
Bio

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