David Foster Wallace Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 457 quotes)
And make no mistake: irony tyrannizes us. The reason why our pervasive cultural irony is at once so powerful and so unsatisfying is that an ironist is impossible to pin down. All U.S. irony is based on an implicit "I do?t really mean what ?m saying." So what does irony as a cultural norm mean to say? That i?s impossible to mean what you say? That maybe i?s too bad i?s impossible, but wake up and smell the coffee already? Most likely, I think, toda?s irony ends up saying: "How totally banal of you to ask what I really mean.
Drug addicts driven to crime to finance their drug addiction are not often inclined toward violent crime. Violence requires all different kinds of energy, and most drug addicts like to expend their energy not on their professional crime but on what their professional crime lets them afford. Drug addicts are often burglars, therefore.
Like many Americans of his generation in this awkwardest of post-Imperial decades, an age suspended between exhaustion and replenishment, between input too ordinary to process and input too intense to bear, Sternberg is deeply ambivalent about being embodied; an informing fear that, were he really just an organism, he'd be nothing more than an ism of his organs.
Look man, we'd probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid it is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what's human and magical that still live and glow despite the times' darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it'd find a way both to depict this dark world AND to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it. You can defend "[American] Psycho" as being a sort of performative digest of late-eighties social problems, but it's no more than that.
Wha?s precious about somebody like Bill Vollmann is that, even though ther?s a great deal of formal innovation in his fictions, it rarely seems to exist for just its own sake. I?s almost always deployed to make some point (Vollman?s the most editorial young novelist going right now, and h?s great at using formal ingenuity to make the editorializing a component of his narrative instead of an interruption) or to create an effect tha?s internal to the text. His narrato?s always weirdly effaced, the writing unself-conscious, despite all the "By-the-way-Dear-reader" intrusions. In a way i?s sad that Vollman?s integrity is so remarkable. Its remarkability means i?s rare
I know that this stuff probably doesn't sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational. What it is, so far as I can see, is the truth with a whole lot of rhetorical bullshit pared away. Obviously, you can think of it whatever you wish. But please don't dismiss it as some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this is about morality, or religion, or dogma, or big fancy questions of life after death. The capital- T Truth is about life before death. It is about making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head. It is about simple awareness? awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over:?This is water, this is water?It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive, day in and day out.
A dad standing up near the stands' top with a Toshiba viewfinder to his eye takes a tomahawking baton directly in the groin and falls forward onto somebody eating a Funnel Cake, and they take out good bits of several rows below them, and there's an extended halt to the action, during which I decamp--steering clear of the sixteen-year-olds on the basketball court--and as I clear the last row yet another baton comes wharp-wharping cruelly over my shoulder, caroming viciously off big R.'s inflated thigh.
Literary fiction and poetry are real marginalized right now. There's a fallacy that some of my friends sometimes fall into, the ol' "The audience is stupid. The audience only wants to go this deep. Poor us, we're marginalized because of TV, the great hypnotic blah, blah." You can sit around and have these pity parties for yourself. Of course this is bullshit. If an art form is marginalized it's because it's not speaking to people. One possible reason is that the people it's speaking to have become too stupid to appreciate it. That seems a little easy to me.
Postmodern irony and cynicis?s become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming wha?s wrong, because the?ll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Iron?s gone from liberating to enslaving. Ther?s some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner wh?s come to love his cage.
Mario'd fallen in love with the first Madam Psychosis programs because he felt like he was listening to someone sad read out loud from yellow letters she'd taken out of a shoebox on a rainy P.M, stuff about heartbreak and people you loved dying and U.S. woe, stuff that was real. It is increasingly hard to find valid art that is about stuff that is real in this way. The older Mario gets, the more confused he gets about the fact that everyone at E.T.A. over the age of about Kent Blott finds stuff that's really real uncomfortable and they get embarrassed. It's like there's some rule that real stuff can only get mentioned if everybody rolls their eyes or laughs in a way that isn't happy.
Okay, you know, is it weird to get so depressed watching a childre?s Christmas specia? Oh, wait, I should?t say that. I mean, tha?s not a good word. I?s not just?sadness? the way one feels sad at a film or a funeral. I?s more of a plummeting quality. Or the way, you know, the way that light gets in winter just before dusk, or the way she is with me. All right, at the height of lovemaking, you know, the very height, when sh?s starting to climax, and sh?s really responding to you now, you know, her eyes widening in that way tha?s both, you know, surprise and recognition, which not a woman alive could fake or feign if you really look intently at her, really see her. And I do?t know, this moment has this piercing sadness to it, of the loss of her in her eyes. And as her eyes, you know, widen to their widest point and as she begins to climax and arch her back, they close. You know, shut, the eyes do. And I can tell that sh?s closed her eyes to shut me out. You know, I become like an intruder. And behind those closed lids, you know, her eyes are now rolled all the way around and staring intently inward into some void where l, who sent them, ca?t follow.
Workshop Hermeticism, fiction for which the highest praise involves the words 'competent,' 'finished,' 'problem-free,' fiction over which Writing-Program pre- and proscriptions loom with the enclosing force of horizons: no character without Freudian trauma in accessible past, without near-diagnostic physical description; no image undissolved into regulation Updikean metaphor; no overture without a dramatized scene to 'show' what's 'told'; no denouement prior to an epiphany whose approach can be charted by and Freitag on any Macintosh.
Knowing that internal stress could cause failure on the exam merely set up internal stress about the prospect of internal stress. There must be some other way to deal with the knowledge of the disastrous consequences fear and stress could bring about. Some answer or trick of the will: the ability not to think about it. What if everyone knew this trick but Claude Sylvanshine? … What if there was something essentially wrong with Claude Sylvanshine that wasn’t wrong with other people?
I was always either so unreasonably and pointlessly happy that no one place could seem to contain me, or so melancholy, so sick and silly with sadness that there was no place I could stomach the thought of entering. I hated it here. And I have never been as happy as when I was here. And these two things together confront me with the beak and claws of the True.
Nor would I even begin to try to describe what she looks like as she’s telling the story, reliving it, she’s naked, hair spilling all down her back, sitting meditatively cross-legged amid the wrecked bedding and smoking ultralight Merits from which she keeps removing the filters because she claims they’re full of additives and unsafe—unsafe as she’s sitting there chain-smoking, which was so patently irrational that I couldn’t even bring—yes and some kind of blister on her Achilles tendon, from the sandals, leaning with her upper body to follow the oscillation of the fan so she’s moving in and out of a wash of moon from the window whose angle of incidence itself alters as the moon moves up and across the window—all I can tell you is she was lovely. The bottoms of her feet dirty, almost black. The moon so full it looks engorged.