ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Waking Life: A Commentary

Updated on December 15, 2017
DGtal Montage profile image

I'm a college teacher and online educator with over 15 years of teaching experience in English literature.

Director: Richard Linklater

Writer: Richard Linklater

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Trevor Jack Brooks, Lorelei Linklater

What are we? Are we a sum total of our thoughts or sum total of our actions? Why does there have to be a negation of communion, between thought and action?

Or are we a summation of all the encounters we have?

“Waking Life” is about this quest for reference; reference back to the self, as if one’s identity is dependent on not just a recognition of one in another person’s consciousness of reality, but as a necessary part of the entire history of existence:

“It's something very concrete, it's you and me talking, making decisions, doing things, and taking the consequences. It might be true that there are six billion people in this world, and counting, but nevertheless -what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms, it makes a difference to other people, and it sets an example.”

It is like the aspects of subconsciousness are choreographed through the one constant reality called chaos. Theory and action are set not in concurrence but at opposition of each other.The central figure glides through layers, sometimes consciously, sometimes unknowingly, of dreams. It is kind of a reverse sleep walking. What is intriguing is that he is getting more and more aware of being confined within its bounds. The look of exasperation when he wakes up (or when he thinks he does), only to find the digits on his clock melting into obscurity, the frantic clicking of electric switches, the shady dissolving of persons he constantly encounters takes us to a moment of Deja-vu.

“On the way to discovering what we love, we will find everything we hate, everything that blocks our path to what we desire”

And Julie Delpy is found contemplating reincarnation and Jungian contentions.

It is right when we try to frantically look for signification, we are shown the futility of our endeavours:

“The best scripts don't make the best films, because they have that kind of literary narrative thing that you're sort of a slave to. The best films are the ones that aren't tied to that slavishly.”

The film runs for 1 hr 40 min. It still feels like it runs only for a single instant. It is about the single moment when the man is hit by the car and it becomes like a sum total of the entire truckload of philosophy that human and even pre human beings have accumulated.

Time is disjointed from its convenient unidirectional sequentiality.

Finally, when the dreamer re encounters the two men and desperately seek recognition, he is denied that. He is left precariously floating in a universe of doubt, unsure of whether he is alive or dead, ant or a zombie, evolved chimp or a dent in the scheme of things, he is swept up, as in Kierkegaard’s last words.

“Sweep me up”

And we are left with an equal uncertainty as the final shot melts into ever dissolving letters.

A breathtaking experience, every scene excelling the previous, the constant quivering of the images, the careless strokes of pastel animating the scenes, the brilliant handling of animation to communicate the essence of hallucination, everything adds up to make the film an objective correlative of the maker’s vision.

This could only have been done this way. They is absolutely no other way to capture the universal consciousness of chaos, and to express the most human of all crises: the question of choice within a world of logical sequencing. And that is so very connected to the question of human independence and how futile every revolution had been since 50 AD.

And yet, how meaningful each instant is.

“And on really romantic evenings of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion.”

© 2017 Monami


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)