close Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn
8 mins

10 Inspiring David Foster Wallace Quotes to Expand Your Mind and Perspective

Discover the profound wisdom of David Foster Wallace through his memorable quotes. Explore Infinite Jest quotes, delve into his acclaimed books, and uncover his unique philosophy.
by The Blinkist Team | Dec 7 2023

David Foster Wallace was an American writer and professor known for his unique and thought-provoking literary works. His most famous novel, “Infinite Jest,” was published in 1996 and has since become a cult classic. Wallace’s writing style, characterized by its complexity and exploration of contemporary issues, continues to resonate with readers today. With its examination of addiction, entertainment culture, and the pursuit of happiness, “Infinite Jest” remains relevant in our fast-paced and technology-driven society.

In a world filled with noise and distractions, it can be difficult to find moments of clarity and expand our minds. That’s where the brilliant words of David Foster Wallace come in. Known for his thought-provoking and introspective writing, Wallace has left behind a treasure trove of quotes that challenge our perspectives and push us to think deeper. In this article, we have gathered 10 inspiring David Foster Wallace quotes that will not only expand your mind but also open new doors of understanding and empathy. Get ready to delve into the profound wisdom of one of the greatest literary minds of our time.

10 David Foster Wallace Quotes That Will Make You Think

How odd I can have all this inside me and to you it’s just words.

David Foster Wallace

This line highlights the disparity between our internal experiences and how they are perceived by others. It suggests that there is a vast depth within each individual that may not be fully understood or appreciated by those around them. It speaks to the complexity of human emotions and the challenge of effectively communicating our innermost thoughts and feelings. Despite the richness of our internal world, it can often be reduced to mere words when expressed to others, leading to a sense of disconnect and misunderstanding.

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. This is the world.

David Foster Wallace

This quote emphasizes the true essence of heroism, highlighting that it is not defined by grand gestures or public recognition. Instead, it is found in the quiet and consistent acts of integrity, responsibility, and compassion that we carry out every day, even when no one is watching or applauding. The quote suggests that the world is shaped by these small, deliberate actions, and that true heroism lies in the unwavering commitment to doing what is right, regardless of external validation or praise.

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.

David Foster Wallace

This quote highlights the true essence of freedom, emphasizing that it goes beyond mere physical or political liberation. It suggests that the most significant form of freedom involves qualities such as attention, awareness, discipline, and effort. It emphasizes the importance of caring for others and being willing to make sacrifices, even in the smallest and seemingly insignificant ways, on a daily basis. This quote encourages us to recognize that true freedom lies in our ability to genuinely care for and support others, demonstrating our commitment to their well-being through consistent acts of selflessness.

It takes great personal courage to let yourself appear weak.

David Foster Wallace

Once again, David Foster Wallace presents a thought-provoking perspective on vulnerability and strength. This quote highlights the courage it takes to allow oneself to be seen as weak. In a society that often values strength and invulnerability, Wallace reminds us that true strength lies in the ability to be authentic and vulnerable. It takes immense bravery to let down our guard and show our true selves, even if it means risking judgment or rejection. This quote encourages us to embrace our vulnerabilities and recognize that they are not signs of weakness, but rather indications of our humanity and capacity for growth.

No wonder we cannot appreciate the really central Kafka joke: that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from the horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.

David Foster Wallace

This line emphasizes the paradoxical nature of the human experience and the inherent struggle in finding our true selves. It suggests that the very process of trying to establish our identity and place in the world is what ultimately shapes our humanity. The quote also highlights the notion that our constant pursuit of a sense of belonging and purpose is, in fact, what defines our sense of home. It challenges us to embrace the journey itself, recognizing that our true home lies not in a physical place, but in the ongoing process of self-discovery and growth.

Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.

David Foster Wallace

This quote emphasizes that every individual engages in some form of worship, whether it be directed towards a religious deity, a material possession, an ideology, or even oneself. It suggests that the act of worship is an inherent part of human nature and that we all have the power to choose what we place our faith and devotion in. This quote encourages us to reflect on our priorities and values, reminding us that our choices in what we worship ultimately shape our lives and define our sense of purpose.

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 everything is?

David Foster Wallace

This quote emphasizes the need for literature and storytelling that goes beyond simply highlighting the darkness and stupidity of the world. It questions the value of fiction that solely focuses on the negative aspects of life without offering any alternative perspectives or solutions. The quote suggests that while acknowledging the challenging times we live in is important, it is equally crucial to engage with narratives that inspire hope, provide escapism, or offer insights into the human condition. It encourages us to seek out literature that offers a more balanced and nuanced portrayal of the world, rather than dwelling solely on its negative aspects.

Try to learn to let what is unfair teach you.

David Foster Wallace

This quote highlights the importance of embracing life’s unfairness as an opportunity for growth and learning. It suggests that instead of resisting or resenting the unfairness we encounter, we should approach it with an open mind and a willingness to learn from it. By allowing the unfairness to teach us, we can gain valuable insights, develop resilience, and ultimately become stronger individuals. This quote encourages us to shift our perspective and see unfairness as a teacher rather than an obstacle.

Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace offers a profound insight into the human condition with this quote. It highlights the universal experience of feeling unique and distinct from others, despite the shared belief that everyone else feels the same way. This quote speaks to the inherent complexity of individuality and the paradoxical nature of our inner thoughts and beliefs. It reminds us that while we may appear similar on the surface, each person carries their own hidden depths and complexities that make them truly unique.

The man who knows his limitations, has none.

David Foster Wallace

This quote reminds us of the importance of self-belief and the potential that lies within each of us. It suggests that when we embrace our strengths and acknowledge our limitations, we can transcend any perceived boundaries and achieve greatness. By understanding ourselves and our capabilities, we can push beyond what we thought was possible and accomplish remarkable things. This quote encourages us to have confidence in ourselves and to never underestimate our own potential.

In conclusion, the words of David Foster Wallace have the power to ignite our minds, challenge our beliefs, and open our hearts to new perspectives. Through his insightful quotes, Wallace invites us to question the status quo, embrace our vulnerabilities, and strive for a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. These 10 inspiring quotes serve as a reminder that growth and expansion come from stepping outside of our comfort zones and engaging in meaningful introspection. Let the wisdom of David Foster Wallace guide you on a journey of self-discovery and intellectual exploration, as you embark on a path towards a more enriched and empathetic life.


Are you intrigued by the captivating and thought-provoking quotes you’ve just discovered? Imagine having access to a treasure trove of knowledge, where you can explore those topics and more. With Blinkist, you can delve deeper into the ideas and concepts that inspire you. Expand your knowledge by reading or listening to over 6,500 bestsellers, summarized in just 15 minutes.


Take a leap into a world of insights. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to explore, learn, and grow. Join Blinkist now and embark on a journey of discovery! Try Blinkist today with our 7-day free trial!

Start your free 7-day trial

Facebook Twitter Tumblr Instagram LinkedIn Flickr Email Print