I watched the movie “The End of the Tour” last evening. It is the story of David Lipskys interview of David Foster Wallace that took place over a period of a few days in 1996. During that time Lipsky accompanied him on a book reading tour in the Minneapolis area. Watching this movie affirmed for me, how I have come to see a life of ambition and pursuit of pleasure. Near the end of the movie David Foster Wallace says to David Lipsky that he pursued a life that had been completely American in its focus and that at the time he thought that striving towards success and fame was the thing to do. In his early twenties he experienced a spiritual crisis where he found himself to be extremely lonely and depressed and drinking to find some escape from it. In the movie he says that he came to the realization at some point during that time that “it’s all a delusion and you are so much better because you can see the delusion and so much worse that you can’t function”.
I can relate to the insight of David Foster Wallace, but would include it to be more than just the American way.It seems also to be at least an aspect of the larger western culture in these modern times and perhaps it is a universal experience of humans; that conventional beliefs and pursuits; that are the creations of our human thought and culture, are so prevalent in how we come to perceive ourselves and how we live, to a degree that we lose touch with what is authentic. There is a sense of satisfaction in coming to see this truth of what has so superficially been created, pursued, believed and valued and that has resulted in so many of us becoming lost. At the same time as Wallace implies , it can be so much worse because one can no longer find ones place in a world such as it has become. To understand actually, factually, the unreality and the division that emerges from our conditioned way of perceiving and believing can be a stifling realization and to see that our dependency on thinking as the dominant guidance in life is what contributes to an ignorance of life can perpetuate a dark experience. But it seems to me that this realization is fundamental if we are to open to a deeper truth. To come to comprehend life through a more direct experience, unfettered by this habitual way we must eventually let go of the notion that thought can possibly understand either love or virtue or humility.