David Foster Wallace: Raido, Journey to Union
Updated: Mar 26, 2020
David Foster Wallace was a writer of intense insight, brilliance, and humor who came to my attention with his reporting from a week on the McCain campaign bus in 2000 for Rolling Stone. (See footnote from March 5, 2020 post, "Sometimes I'm Not Just a Telephone." He died by his own hand at the age of 46 in 2008 after a lifetime struggle with excruciating depression. Here is my attempt to try to talk to him.
"Surrender now before the fire sweeps in,
so that you can enjoy the freedom that such surrender will give you."
Ann: David, did you want to talk to me? I love your piece on John McCain. Not that I knew him when he was alive, but it sure rang right to what I know of him now. He is a gift, a straight shooter, and someone who has seen the truth, brought the joy home and doesn’t forget it.
How are you doing?
David Foster Wallace: Ann, no you don't have to try to talk to me. You can feel me beside you smiling. I loved writing all that detailed stuff which made me laugh even while I was writing it and lifted the black cloud in the process. I came here now to say that this crisis that we are all facing is like every crisis that each one of us faces in one way or another in our own lives. Just because it’s on a global scale does not make it different. Every little detail in our own lives - denial, bargaining, half measures, terror, pain, surrender and then finally joy - is the microcosm of the virus that is taking over the planet.
And be glad for it, thank God for it, surrender now before the fire sweeps in, so that you can enjoy the freedom that such surrender will give you. Once you have let go, once you have done what you can, that joy, that freedom will be a liberating current.
Ann: David, a lot of people are looking at losing their jobs, their livelihood, their health, their homes, their retirement, and their loved ones. Are you sure this “surrender to joy” thing is the best advice?
David: It’s the only advice, Ann. For most of my life I was drowning in chemical depression. I could not hold on to any blessing that came my way because that cloud pressed me down into the damp earth, my face in the mud so that I could barely draw breath. I could not see, and I could not even hope for deliverance. I know what hopelessness looks like. The source is irrelevant.
What I am here to tell you is that letting go is the only way. Letting go of everything. In my case I finally had to let go of life - and that I do not necessarily recommend for then that particular learning stops before the joy has a chance to be discovered.
In these troubled times there is always a next step, a next place, and a next solution though many are far from what we had hoped for or anticipated. We have a society, a community, and a government which can address these needs individually and collectively, and we are beginning to do so.
There is change sweeping through in the wake of this scourge, and the scorched path that it leaves in its wake will allow us to build new structures. Most of us have not known real depression, physical, financial, or medical, certainly not as a society. Let me tell you that it destroys, but it also cleanses. Put back onto that barren path only the things you want to nurture and grow. Discard everything else that has so conveniently been swept away. You will be amazed at your lightness of being.
Ann: I’m sorry, David, I keep thinking of those who may lose their homes, not be able to feed their families, who will be overcome by despair.
DFW: Yes. That is what I mean. That is where the gold is. I know it sounds insensitive, but that is where you find your common humanity, reaching for these people, giving of what you have left.
Ann: You weren’t able to hold on to it though the miseries, the horrors of depression.
DFW: No, but what I suffered had no possibility of parole, of rescue from the many who cared for me because it walled me off from all of those emotions, those people, those offers. I am trying to say to you that the isolation that this plague will engender can open your eyes, ears, and hearts to those offers.
When a hand is offered take it. When a place to shelter can be had, have it. Do not allow the dark to die unredeemed. As you receive and others give, you are giving more than you could possibly imagine because you are pulling us together into a tightly knit whole which could never have developed in a world of separate roads, holes, and fissures. This is a time of opportunity for systemic change into a holy society devoted to the well-being of each and every one of its parts. This can happen if we will allow it.
Ann: I can’t get a hold of this so I asked the runes to opine on what you are saying and pulled Raido, which according to Thorsson is “the cosmic law of right and archetypal order in the multiverse…This rune represents the right order of the initiate’s journey through the paths of the Nine Worlds of Yggdrasill. Good advice and judgment according to right are ascribed to this rune….The way back to right.”
Raido is also held to represent a rider carried by a horse on a journey of union and reunion, the horse moves as the universe directs without interference from the rider, who rejoices in the union between the two. So I guess the runes are picking up what you are putting down. Now is our chance to ride that horse, to right that wrong, to surrender to the Creator's direction.
March 16, 2020
All blog entries are works of the imagination and are for spiritual and entertainment purposes only.