Trying to locate/confirm David Foster Wallace quote about life/honesty
February 10, 2013 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Something about the importance or value of living honestly/doing something good while never being rewarded for your actions or even recognized for them.

I've searched google, but my keywords are all pretty vague, especially as I can only remember the gist of what I think was said. And the quotes sites all, pretty much, list the same quotes and I haven't found it in there.

It's weird because what was written really resonated with me, and yet I can't remember the actual words or even where I read it. I only own one DFW book, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, and I haven't been able to find it in there.
posted by fartknocker to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You should google his speech "This is Water," it's likely from that. I think the full text is online.
posted by emmatrotsky at 11:35 AM on February 10, 2013

I'm pretty sure this isn't it, but there's a bit in The Pale King where an accounting professor tells his class that being a good accountant is heroic but that they'll never be recognized for it. I can dig it out if you're curious.
posted by evisceratordeath at 11:39 AM on February 10, 2013

Yep, checked "This is Water." Not it.
posted by fartknocker at 11:41 AM on February 10, 2013

Hmm... yes. It might have been about heroism. That sounds promising.
posted by fartknocker at 11:42 AM on February 10, 2013

Yes, pretty sure this is something from PK.
posted by charlemangy at 11:43 AM on February 10, 2013

Yes, I think that's it evisceratordeath. Thanks! I believe this is the quote I was looking for:

"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, The Pale King

Found at

posted by fartknocker at 11:45 AM on February 10, 2013 [11 favorites]

Just found it in my copy, there's that quote and a bunch of similar meditations on boring work and the heroism of the banal on pages 229-30 of the 1st hardcover edition.
posted by charlemangy at 11:51 AM on February 10, 2013

Oh nice! Glad to help.
posted by evisceratordeath at 12:20 PM on February 10, 2013

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