As I write this, the background advertisements of this movie's IMDB page are of the last Fifty Shades of Gray movie and the people around me are talking about Riverdale. I think David Foster Wallace would have some appreciation and anger about those things. As well he should.
As the book tour for Infinite Jest, the 1996 award-winning doorstopper, wound down, a Rolling Stone reporter (Eisenberg) spent a few days with author David Foster Wallace (Segel). The reporter recorded those days and wrote a nonfiction book twelve years later when Wallace committed suicide. That nonfiction book and those recordings were the basis of this story of two writers talking and figuring shit out.
To be honest, I have never read David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. Respect all around, I've read some of his nonfiction and seen that speech on youtube, but I just don't have the time to think about a 1000+ page literary novel. Gimme genre or gimme shelter. I say that to say this: this movie made me want to.
There's a moment when Wallace breaks down and explains a moment of his process. It's near the end and the reporter has asked him about a rumored heroin addiction. Wallace explains that he knows he's smart and clever but he's also addicted to television, the low brow medium. He wrote about heroin because writing about television would be too much, too damning, not sexy in the least. Heroin is sexy because the danger is public. And admitting that television is addicting would be to understand that the delusion we live with, the empty worlds we fill our heads with, are gifted to us by people who wish to sell us our own souls. The waste of knowing about that addiction, categorizing it above another, is the biggest delusion of all and admitting that is to admit to the end of the self, the empty mind of the rational man alone and screaming at the indifferent.
Did I mention Wallace killed himself?