The first chapter begins by questioning the building blocks of everything else: reality, perception, illusion, delusion, hallucination, subjectivity, unknowability, memory, truth, fact, and other such notions. Just a few of the quotations you'll find:
We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
Reality is frequently inaccurate.
Since the initial publication of the chart of the electromagnetic spectrum, humans have learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear is less than one-millionth of reality.
—R. Buckminster Fuller
It is inconceivable that anything should be existing.
We need to take dreams more literally, and waking life more symbolically.
What was once called the objective world is a sort of Rorschach ink blot, into which each culture, each type of personality, reads a meaning only remotely derived from the shape and color of the blot itself.
Fact explains nothing. On the contrary, it is fact that requires explanation.
Of course, sometimes it’s quite difficult to know if you’re hallucinating. You might hallucinate a silver pen on your desk right now and never suspect it’s not real—because its presence is plausible. It’s easy to spot a hallucination only when it’s bizarre. For all we know, we hallucinate all the time.
Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.
All our previous positions are now exposed as absurd. But people don’t draw the obvious conclusion: it must also mean then that our present situation is absurd.
Beware the stories you read or tell: subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world.
A huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded.
—David Foster Wallace
Einstein’s space is no closer to reality than van Gogh’s sky. The glory of science is not in a truth more absolute than the truth of Bach or Tolstoy, but in the act of creation itself. The scientist’s discoveries impose his own order on chaos, as the composer or painter imposes his; an order that always refers to limited aspects of reality, and is based on the observer’s frame of reference, which differs from period to period as a Rembrandt nude differs from a nude by Manet.
When you sit in a chair, you are not actually sitting there, but levitating above it at a height of one angstrom (a hundred millionth of a centimeter), your electrons and its electrons implacably opposed to any closer intimacy.
I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.
It’s in our biology to trust what we see with our eyes. This makes living in a carefully edited, overproduced, and Photoshopped world very dangerous.
You must accept the truth from whatever source it comes.
Humor is what happens when we’re told the truth quicker and more directly than we’re used to.