We all want to help other people. We all want a sense of purpose. Both of these things can give pleasure, peace, and meaning to our lives, but only in reasonable moderation.
Lisa isn’t really an anomaly at all – she’s a blip on Anomalisa protagonist Michael Stone’s endless cycle of alienation.
“Don’t run. Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody dies. Now, come watch TV,” Morty tells his sister Summer, who’s having a bitter teenage meltdown over news that her birth was a mistake. Summer’s going through a world-shattering event, but thanks to Grandpa Rick’s universe-bending, Morty has seen some things that put everything into perspective. What he’s saying is stark, but comforting.
“You’re a very beautiful girl,” Don tells Sally. “It’s up to you to do more than that.” Like most of the best advice we give, Don’s talking to himself. He’s echoing an observation Mathis yelled at him earlier in the episode, “You don’t have character. You’re just handsome.”
It’s an insanely hard matter to exist. First, of course, we have to make sure our basic needs are met, which is a chore in itself. The problem with having them met is that it is only briefly satisfying for us. The hunger that’s hard to feed and the rumbling that seems impossible to quiet is the pull of the dread of death and a swallowing ache of loneliness.
This disorienting pain is where Don Hertzfeldt’s films live.
Ken Cosgrove has in his reach the perfect setup for an aspiring author: thanks to his marriage situation, he could take of advantage of all the money and time needed to hammer out his first novel. He only toys with this dream briefly, though, this glimmering life not lived, before going back to tracing the same old circles with his hours, this time fueled by revenge. Is that all there is?