A few more priceless quotes from the book-length interview Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, pg. 256-57, this time touching on the black hole of ambition, inwardly-speaking, in regards to the law (of achievement). In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone express the deadend of “works righteousness” so well:
The great lie of the [ocean-liner] cruise is that enough pleasure and enough pampering will quiet this discontented part of you. When in fact, all it does is up the requirement… I can remember being twenty-four years old and having my, you know, smiling mug in The New York Times Book Review, and it feeling really good for exactly like ten seconds.
And then you’re hungry for more. So that, clearly, I mean if you’re not stupid, you figure out that the real problem is the discontented self. That all this stuff that you think will work for a second, but then all it does is set up a hunger for more and better.
And… that general pattern and syndrome seems to me to get repeated, at least in our culture, for our kind of plush middle-class part of the culture, over and over and over again in a million different arenas. And that we don’t seem to get it. We do not seem to get it…
It may be that those ambitions are what get you to do the work, to get the exposure, to realize that the original ambitions were misguided. Right? So that it’s a weird paradoxical link. If you didn’t have the ambitions, you’d never find out that they were sort of deluded.