D.F. Wallace had it in his head that we’re all trapped in our heads in a tangle of exponential confusion. And that each jungle of confusion (and angst) is isolated from all others, or–as Heinrich Heine put it a long time ago: “Kein Mensch kennt den andern, jeder steht allein…“
I may be reading too much into Wallace, but I think anything anyone sincerely attributes to him is there somewhere, if not in the body of his work, then in his voluminous footnotes. But if that’s the case, then all we’d have to do is read Wallace from A to Z and the walls between us would crumble; we’d be one big happy family, joined at the hip in confusion.
Still, there’s a piece missing. There’s always a piece missing, be it in Goethe or Freud or James Joyce. Albert Einstein, Jesus Christ, Allah or the Buddha.
The Buddha probably came as close as anyone to coming to terms with his confusion. What he said can be boiled down to: of course there’s a piece missing, but just knowing that is knowing what that piece is, in a knowing but not knowing sort of way, and what’s required once you’ve got that far is intense concentration on emptiness.
I think the Buddha was on to something that I recognized the day a long time ago that I came across this Zen poem: “In the spring rain, a small child’s ball is getting wet on the roof.“
That’s when I threw in the towel on God and began drinking like there was no tomorrow.