9 Of David Foster Wallace's Best Quotes

Whether you're a hardcore David Foster Wallace fan or a total newcomer to the late author's works, you're bound to love The End of the Tour , a new movie chronicling a few days in the writer's 1996 life. The film, directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) is a smart, poignant, and superbly acted movie that paints the iconic Wallace as a stunningly human figure, and although news of its creation garnered flack from Wallace's estate, the end result is nothing short of incredible. It'll make you want to run out and buy Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, the book the movie is based on, but if you can't get your hands on it just yet, don't worry — I've rounded up some of the best David Foster Wallace quotes from David Lipsky's book.

It's well worth reading the actual book itself, as it paints a far greater portrait of Wallace than a simple list of quotes can ever do. Yet if you're hesitant to delve into such an undertaking or just want a sense of who the man truly was, these nine quotes, below, should more than do the trick.

1. "It’s really scary to be alive and to be human"

It's a simple quote, but a powerful one. Wallace's fear and uncertainty about life is discussed in detail in The End of the Tour.

2. "Think of times in your life that you've treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable as human beings. The ability to do that with ourselves... I think it's probably possible to achieve that. I think part of the job we're here for is to learn how to do it."

What an incredible thing to say.

3. "I always fear that when I really impose my will on something, the universe is gonna punish me.”

This is such a sad quote, and gives insight into Wallace's deepest insecurities.

4. "And I think that the ultimate way you and I get lucky is if you have some success early in life, you get to find out early it doesn't mean anything. Which means you get to start early the work of figuring out what does mean something"

A noble pursuit.

5. "What writers have is a license and also the freedom to sit—to sit, clench their fists, and make themselves be excruciatingly aware of the stuff that we’re mostly aware of only on a certain level."

Writing has never been described so impressively.

6. "I have the musical tastes of a thirteen year-old girl."

Not all his quotes were profound. Some were just hilarious.

7. "We sit around and bitch about how TV has ruined the audience for reading—when really all it’s done is given us the really precious gift of making our job harder."

It's so easy for academics and authors to dismiss TV outright, but Wallace took a more nuanced approach and pointed out its value.

8. "I'd like to be the sort of person who can enjoy things at the time instead of having to go back in my head and enjoy them then"

A problem many people, especially writers, tend to have.

9. "One of the things about being a writer is you’re able to give the impression -- both in the lines and between the lines -- that you know an enormous amount. That you know and have lived intimately all this stuff. Because you want it to have that kind of effect on the nerve endings.”

A beautifully-worded summary of writing, and one that showcases the passion Wallace had for his work.

The End of the Tour may not feature much of Wallace's actual writing, but his eloquence and thoughtfulness shine through all the same.

Image: Wikimedia Commons