David Foster Wallace

David Foster
Wallace
1962
2008

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

Author Quotes

The depressed person was in terrible and unceasing emotional pain, and the impossibility of sharing or articulating this pain was itself a component of the pain and a contributing factor in its essential horror. Despairing, then, of describing the emotional pain itself, the depressed person hoped at least to be able to express something of its context, its shape and texture, as it were-by recounting circumstances related to its etiology.

The integrity of my sleep has been forever compromised, sir.

The paradoxical intercourse of audience and celebrity. The suppressed awareness that the whole reason ordinary people found celebrity fascinating was that they were not, themselves, celebrities. That wasn't quite it... It was more the deeper, more tragic and universal conflict of which the celebrity paradox was a part. The conflict between the subjective centrality of our own lives versus our awareness of its objective insignificance. Atwater knew - as did everyone at Style, though by some strange unspoken consensus it was never said aloud - that this was the single great informing conflict of the American psyche. The management of insignificance. It was the great syncretic bond of US monoculture. It was everywhere, at the root of everything - of impatience in long lines, of cheating on taxes, of movements in fashion and music and art, of marketing. In particular, he thought it was alive in the paradoxes of audience. It was the feeling that celebrities were your intimate friends, coupled with the inchoate awareness that that untold millions of people felt the same way - and that the celebrities themselves did not. Atwater had had contact with a certain number of celebrities (there was no way to avoid it at BSG), and they were not, in his experience, very friendly or considerate people. Which made sense when one considered that celebrities were not actually functioning as real people at all, but as something more like symbols of themselves.

Perhaps this is what it means to go mad: to be emptied and to be aware of the emptiness.

Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it'd find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.

She took a sort of abject pride in her mecilessness toward herself.

Some words have to be explicitly uttered, Lenore. Only by actually uttering certain words does one really DO what one SAYS. ?Love? is one of those words, performative words. Some words can literally make things real.

That dead-eyed anhedonia is but a remora on the ventral flank of the true predator, the Great White Shark of pain. Authorities term this condition clinical depression or involutional depres¦sion or unipolar dysphoria. Instead of just an incapacity for feeling, a dead¦ening of soul, the predator-grade depression Kate Gompert always feels as she Withdraws from secret marijuana is itself a feeling. It goes by many names ? anguish, despair, torment, or q.v. Burton's melancholia or Yevtuschenko's more authoritative psychotic depression ? but Kate Gompert, down in the trenches with the thing itself, knows it simply as It.

That they always give their horoscope readers (like Joyce every morning, over vegetable juice she made herself in a special machine) 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 depressed person was in terrible and unceasing pain, and the impossibility of sharing or articulating this pain was itself a component of the pain and a contributing factor in its essential horror.

The interesting thing is why we're so desperate for this anesthetic against loneliness.

The parts of me that used to think I was different or smarter or whatever, almost made me die.

Perhaps what most of us perceive as the centers of ourselves are simply no longer needed. And we both know that the absence of function, in nature, means death. There is nothing superfluous in nature.

Really good work probably comes out of a willingness to disclose yourself, open yourself up in spiritual and emotional ways that risk making you look banal or melodramatic or naive or unhip or sappy, and to ask the reader really to feel something. To be willing to sort of die in order to move the reader, somehow. Even now I?m scared about how sappy this?ll look in print, saying this. And the effort actually to do it, not just talk about it, requires a kind of courage I don?t seem to have yet.

She wanted only tall smooth bottles whose labels spoke of Proof.

Somebody had taken an old disk of McCartney and the Wings - as in the historical Beatles's McCartney - taken and run it through a Kurtzweil remixer and removed every track on the songs except the tracks of poor old Mrs. Linda McCartney singing backup and playing tambourine... Poor old Mrs. Linda McCartney just fucking could not sing, and having her shaky off-key little voice flushed from the cover of the whole slick multitrack corporate sound and pumped up to solo was to Gately unspeakably depressing - her voice sounding so lost, trying to hide and bury itself inside the pro backups' voices; Gately imagined Mrs. Linda McCartney - in his Staff room's wall's picture a kind of craggy-face blonde - imagined her standing there lost in the sea of her husband's pro noise, feeling low esteem and whispering off-key, not knowing quite when to shake her tambourine: C's depressing CD was past cruel, it was somehow sadistic-seeming, like drilling a peephole in the wall of a handicapped bathroom.

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.

That what appears to be egoism so often isn't.

The depressed person?s therapist was always extremely careful to avoid appearing to judge or blame the depressed person for clinging to her defenses, or to suggest that the depressed person had in any way consciously chosen or chosen to cling to a chronic depression whose agony made her (i.e., the depressed person?s) every waking hour feel like more than any person could possibly endure. This renunciation of judgment or imposed value was held by the therapeutic school in which the therapist?s philosophy of healing had evolved over almost fifteen years of clinical experience to be integral to the combination of unconditional support and complete honesty about feelings which composed the nurturing professionalism required for a productive therapeutic journey toward authenticity and intrapersonal wholeness. Defenses against intimacy, the depressed person?s therapist?s experiential theory held, were nearly always arrested or vestigial survival-mechanisms; i.e., they had, at one time, been environmentally appropriate and necessary and had very probably served to shield a defenseless childhood psyche against potentially unbearable trauma, but in nearly all cases they (i.e., the defense-mechanisms) had become inappropriately imprinted and arrested and were now, in adulthood, no longer environmentally appropriate and in fact now, paradoxically, actually caused a great deal more trauma and pain than they prevented. Nevertheless, the therapist had made it clear from the outset that she was in no way going to pressure, hector, cajole, argue, persuade, flummox, trick, harangue, shame, or manipulate the depressed person into letting go of her arrested or vestigial defenses before she (i.e., the depressed person) felt ready and able to risk taking the leap of faith in her own internal resources and self-esteem and personal growth and healing to do so (i.e., to leave the nest of her defenses and freely and joyfully fly).

The jet's movement and trail seem incisionish, as if white meat behind the blue were exposed and widening in the wake of the blade.

the patriotic or religious bumper stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers, who are usually talking on cell phones as they cut people off in order to get just twenty stupid feet ahead in the traffic jam...

Perversely, it is often more fun to want something than to have it.

Recursive meta-fiction worships the narrative consciousness, makes it the subject of the text. Minimalism?s even worse, emptier, because it?s a fraud: it eschews not only self-reference but any narrative personality at all, tries to pretend there is no narrative consciousness in its text. This is so fucking American, man: either make something your God and cosmos and then worship it, or else kill it.

She was terrified of everything, and terrified to show it.

Sometimes he finds out he believes something that he doesn?t even know he believed until it exits his mouth in front of five anxious little hairless plump trusting clueless faces.

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