24 February 2009

The struggle to find a self

I re-read part of David Foster Wallace's 2006 Kenyon Commencement Address last night, which prompted me to look through more of Wallace's stuff on the intertubes.

In an essay he wrote about Kafka, I came across the following excerpt, and now I can't get it out of my head:

[T]he horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.

1 comment:

  1. Morpheus is handcuffed to a chair, stripped to the waist.
    He is alternately shivering and sweating, wired to various
    monitors with white disk electrodes. Beside him, Agent
    Brown sucks a serum from a glass vial, filling a
    hypodermic needle.

    Did you know that the first Matrix
    was designed to be a perfect human
    world? Where none suffered, where
    everyone would be happy. It was a
    disaster. No one would accept the
    program. Entire crops were lost.

    Agent Brown jams the needle into Morpheus' shoulder and
    plunges down.

    Some believed we lacked the
    programming language to describe
    your perfect world. But I believe
    that, as a species, human beings
    define their reality through
    suffering and misery.

    Agent Brown studies the screens as the life signs react
    violently to the injection.

    The perfect world was a dream that
    your primitive cerebrum kept trying
    to wake up from. Which is why the
    Matrix was redesigned to this: the
    peak of your civilization.

    He turns from the window.

    I say 'your civilization' because as
    soon as we started thinking for you,
    it really became our civilization,
    which is, of course, what this is
    all about.