Some real machinery inside our guts

I had a day where I saw two movies. It was a Sunday in August, and a life-change sort of thing was happening, or continuing to happen, that made me want to get out of the house. My priority was “Hitman: Agent 47,” which unfortunately proved quite negligible. But first I went to a 10:25 AM showing of “The End of the Tour.” This two-hander about David Foster Wallace was so moving to me, I started to cry about fifteen minutes in.

I’m not an uncritical fan of DFW, or I should say I’m a not-uncritical fan. He’s been part of my literary consciousness for a long time. I saw him read during the tour referred to in the movie’s title, at Book People in Austin (not much of a crowd), and I’m a writer who thinks a lot about success and failure, like all writers, and I remember the nineties, and he died young, and I felt like I was watching a movie about me, and Jason Segel was extraordinary, and, anyway, I cried. Anyway. I’ve always respected Wallace for his perspective on cyberspace and what it was going to do to us. Here’s what he says in the movie (quote from the Boston Globe):

We’re going to have to develop some real machinery inside our guts to turn off pure unalloyed pleasure, or, I don’t know about you, I’m going to have to leave the planet. Because the technology’s just gonna get better and better and it’s just going to get easier and easier and more and more convenient and more and more pleasurable to sit alone, with images on a screen given to us by people who do not love us but want our money. And that’s fine, in low doses. But if it’s the basic main staple of your diet, you’re going to die. In a very meaningful way, you’re going to die.

He was right, of course. He didn’t live to see how right.

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