In light of the impending “Buffett Rule” & my ongoing journey with 26books this year, a prophetic passage from David Foster Wallace in Lipsky’s book, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself (160-2):
I’m talking about the number of privileged, highly intelligent, motivated career-track people that I know, from my high school or college, who are, if you look into their eyes, empty and miserable. You know? And who don’t believe in politics, and don’t believe in religion. And believe that civic movements or political activism are either a farce or some way to get power for the people who are in control of it. Or who just…who don’t BELIEVE in anything. Who know fantastic reasons not to believe in stuff, and are terrific ironists and pokers of holes. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just, it doesn’t seem to me that there’s just a whole lot else…
I don’t know what’s going to come after it, but I think something’s gonna have to. I mean, something’s gonna have to. My guess is that what it will be is, it’s going to be the function of some people who are heroes. Who evince a real type of passion that’s going to look very banal and very retrograde and very…You know, for instance, people who will get on television, and earnestly say, ‘It’s extraordinarily important, that we, the most undertaxed nation on earth, be willing to pay higher taxes, so that we don’t allow the lower strata of our society to starve to death and freeze to death.’ That it’s vitally important that we do that. Not for them, but for us.
You know? That our survival depends on an ability to look past ourselves and our own self-interest. And these people are going to look– in the climate, in the particular climate of our generation and MTV and Letterman, they’re going to look absurd. They’re going to look like, What do you call it? Polyannas. Or, um, you know, suffragettes on soapboxes. They’re gonna come off bombastic and pretentious and self-righteous and smug.
But in a weird way, I think they’re…at some point, at some point I think, this generation’s gonna reach a level of pain, or a level of exhaustion with the standard, you know…At a certain point, we’re gonna look for something. And the question for me is, what?– is what comes after it? Some Ralph Reed, knuckle-draggin’, fundamentalist, you know? Easy atavistic bullshit that’s repressive and, that’s repressive and truly self-righteous and truly intolerant? Or is there going to be some kind of like, you know, something like what the founding fathers and the Federalists did, you know? Are we going to like look inside our hearts and decide that, things have been fucked up, and we’re going to make some rules that are good for everybody?