What I learned from ‘The End of the Tour’
I recently watched the David Foster Wallace pic, called ‘The End of the Tour.’ It’s taken from the book by David Lipsky, detailing the end of Wallace’s Infinite Jest tour. Being a fan of Wallace, I was excited about seeing it, and not disappointed. Jason Segal does an amazing job recreating the feel of this tragic, literary character. For any of you who don’t know, Wallace killed himself back in 2008 after losing the battle with depression.
As always, after something moves me like this film did, I did some research to find out more. In the process, I unearthed an article from Rolling Stone interviewing David Lipsky about the book, Wallace’s death, and his own experience interviewing Wallace. The one thing I found very interesting was a quote Lipsky provided, saying roughly that depression was merely the opposite of curiosity. At first, I dismissed it, digging on to other insights to the author and his work, but over the following days, these words came back to me, and they rang with a strange truth.
How is curiosity the opposite of depression? This was the first question I asked myself. And it began to come clear. If curiosity is the interest in the world around you, an exacting interest to dissect everything down to its roots to see how it ticks, then I one hundred percent see what the quote means, because that’s exactly what depression is, but instead of thrusting it upon the outside world, the depressed individual casts it inward upon themselves. It is a magnifying glass in either direction, the intensity of which can awe when directed outward, or undermine the essence of being when done oppositely.
In this way, I really began to understand the character of Wallace more—though true, it’s only based on the fictional portrayal in the movie. Having read Wallace’s works—both fiction and non-fiction—I cannot determine what mental state he was ever actually in. Only bad poetry shows the author’s true inner feelings. Good writing doesn’t.
Now, after having seen it a week ago, the movie still bothers me. The man was brilliant, but I wonder would he have been just as sparkling an author were he not so intense with his self-examination?