Re-humanizing Hector

A Review of Hector and the Search for Happiness


Hector is a psychiatrist, whose life seems perfect, ordered and predictable. The only problem is that he gradually realizes that although his private practice patients have so much, they are perpetually unhappy. Eventually he comes to realize, too, that he is unhappy. It is a classic midlife crisis, he is successful in the world, but the interior meaning and vitality of life elude him.


Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung wrote that for men, the midlife period marks a time of moving from an external, materialistic orientation to a more inner, spiritual orientation. “Midlife is the time to let go of an overdominant ego and to contemplate the deeper significance of human existence.”

This is exactly what Hector sets off to do. His overdominant ego has controlled and limited his experiences in life, he feels compelled to break his routine and to go off on an adventure. The movie starts with a dream sequence, Hector is flying a biplane, his trusty childhood dog in the co-pilot seat. He loses his dog and instead an assassin attacks him from behind, the plane is running on empty and goes into a dive – and he awakes to another day of the same breakfast, the same patients with the same problems and a very pleasant, but measured life. His childhood dreams were of being a pilot, flying, exploring the world (he has Tintin memorabilia in his office), yet he lives his life in complete safety and isolation in his office. One of his most endearing clients is a clairvoyant who has lost her ability to tell the future and feels like she is inauthentic. She also gives Hector prescient advice.


At first Hector thinks he needs to go on a journey to do research so he can better help his clients learn what true happiness is, but he eventually realizes that he himself is too controlled to know true happiness and that his quest is, in reality, for self, to live and experience happiness.

He travels to China, meets a businessman and sees all of what money can buy, but it is not happiness. He goes to Tibet and feels a brief glimmer of happiness, but he loses it. He goes to South Africa where his friend from university practices in a free health clinic. Here he sees his friend living a dream of service to humanity, and of being loved for who he is. But this is also a very dangerous place, as Hector soon finds out. He bumbles along, his kindness to others making him friends and people are changed in subtle ways around him (for instance he sorts out a drug lord’s wife’s psychiatric medication and this has a small humanizing effect on the man). Hector next travels to LA, where he seeks out his childhood sweetheart, who is now married, with two kids and pregnant with a third. She teaches him that happiness does not lie in the past. On the flight to LA, he is called upon as a doctor to take care of a woman with terminal brain cancer traveling to see her sister for one last time. He dismisses his kindness and work with the woman as nothing, but she teaches Hector that, “Listening is loving.”

The last lesson he learns is from a psychologist studying happiness through brain imaging. Hector reviews the wide variety of emotional experiences he has undergone, but is still holding back. At one point, something breaks through, and he learns that happiness is feeling everything all at once, fully and deeply. Happiness is a by-product of being capable of feeling everything. This fits with my experience working with clients and from my own self-observation. It is possible to stop “negative” emotions, but it is at the cost of dampening “positive” emotions as well. The way I think of it, they flow through the same channel, so to speak, and the only choice is to feel it all, or to try to dampen and repress emotions.


All through the movie, Hector has a small journal that he doodles in and writes down his maxims of happiness. While he learns that lists and aphorisms do not make happiness, it is still worth sharing this list. The movie is based on the successful series of books by the French psychiatrist and author, François Lelord.


Here is the list from the book:

  1. Making comparisons can spoil your happiness
  2. Happiness often comes when least expected
  3. Many people only see happiness in their future
  4. Many people think happiness comes from having more power or more money
  5. Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story
  6. Happiness is a long walk in beautiful, unfamiliar mountains
  7. It’s a mistake to think that happiness is the goal
  8. Happiness is being with the people you love; unhappiness is being separated from the people you love
  9. Happiness is knowing that your family lacks for nothing
  10. Happiness is doing a job you love
  11. Happiness is having a home and a garden of your own
  12. It’s harder to be happy in a country run by bad people
  13. Happiness is feeling useful to others
  14. Happiness is to be loved for exactly who you are (People are kinder to a child who smiles)
  15. Happiness comes when you feel truly alive
  16. Happiness is knowing how to celebrate
  17. Happiness is caring about the happiness of those you love
  18. Happiness is not attaching too much importance to what other people think
  19. The sun and the sea make everybody happy
  20. Happiness is a certain way of seeing things
  21. Rivalry poisons happiness
  22. Women care more than men about making others happy
  23. Happiness means making sure that those around you are happy

This movie is really lovely, funny, heart-warming, profound, and thought-provoking. It portrays a man becoming who he truly is, overcoming his fears and defenses, becoming engaged in the world and being fully human. Simon Pegg is great as Hector. Rosamund Pike does a wonderful job as Hector’s somewhat neurotic girlfriend, who creates medication names for a pharmaceutical company. All the actors are well cast and the movie flows well, despite moving through so many settings and characters. It was directed by Peter Chelsom, who also directed the 2001 film, Serendipity, amongst others.

I just read the recently released book, Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician, by Sandeep Jauhar. I will write a review of this book soon, as the theme of this book, as well as the theme of Hector are relevant to my book, Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine. The joyless practice of medicine that Dr. Jauhar describes in painfully honest detail aptly captures the dehumanizing elements of medicine. Hector, while a bit of a feel-good romantic comedy, offers a portrayal of one doctor’s attempts at re-humanizing himself, his practice and the larger culture. He creates a counter-curriculum of life experience and he not only writes the book on happiness, he lives it, too. I give it 5 stars for being fully human. (The soundtrack was great, too, but not available yet).


Radio Free Albemuth (the movie)


This movie has been a long time coming. Filming started in 2007, it was shown at Sedona in 2010 and I have been waiting for it to be released, which didn’t happen until June 27, 2014, which I completely missed and just saw it on demand and watched it last night.

The movie is the first of the four novels of Philip K. Dick’s VALIS “trilogy” to be adapted to film. While it is often said that PKD’s books are great and the movies never live up to them (and perhaps that could be said of this movie as well), this is an important movie for several reasons.


Firstly, as mentioned, it is the first of PKD’s late books to be adapted to film (Blade Runner, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau, as well as many others being adaptations of PKD’s earlier work). In February of 1974, Phil had his first vision/hallucination. He continued to have these experiences over the next months and his late career revolves around his attempt to understand these experiences. He picked up and set down many different explanations for his visions: God; extraterrestrials so advanced that they may as well be God; mental illness; Russian mind control experiments; beams of energy from a satellite; attempts by extraterrestrials to intervene to save the earth; an over-lap in parallel universes, as well as many other theories. In 2011 PKD’s 976 page Exegesis was published posthumously, containing many pages of his attempts to understand his experiences, as well as ideas for his late novels. It should be mentioned that Radio Free Albemuth was written in 1976 as a draft of what later was published in 1981 as VALIS. RFA was published posthumously in 1985. The two novels are similar only in the fact that they have a character named “Philip K. Dick” who is a science fiction writer. In both novels, PKD is a kind of foil, a straight man to either Horselover Fat (VALIS) or Nicholas Brady (RFA). Phil creates a split having one character experience the visions and the pink phosphene beam and receive communications from VALIS, while the “Philip K. Dick” character is initially skeptical, but gets pulled into the metaphysical action.

Valis Satellite

Secondly, the movie is important because of its political themes. In this universe, the United States is ruled by four-term President Fremont, who has declared war on the subversive organization Aramchek, which may or may not be a real organization. The characters in the movie are visited by FAP (Friends of the American People) who are young, Hitler Youth types with unquestioning patriotism. At one point, Nick and his wife, Rachel, have to complete tests after watching President Fremont’s speech. The question is: “If the American people have to give up liberties in order to fight Aramchek, are they gaining or losing ground?”


The movie features

Nick goes through a series of visions, which are very close to the visions that PKD described having in real life. At one point he becomes convinced that current reality is an overlay of Rome in AD 70, the time of persecution of Christians by Nero, “The Empire never ended,” which means that PKD/Nick believes that the US government at the time was equated with the Roman empire, and President Nixon can be seen as a kind of Roman emperor.

The movie stays close to PKD’s novel and has all of the many twists and turns of the plot, including visions of messages from an alternate reality from someone in the Portuguese States of America – while this entity can give advice, it cannot answer the question, “Who are you?” It presents PKD’s spiritual beliefs, which are a mixture of science fiction, Gnosticism, Christianity, and Neoplatonism. The movie has lines, like “No one ever truly dies” and “Our minds are being invaded by an alien life form, for our benefit.” (PKD particularly developed the concept of the Paraclete as an alien life form that cross-bonded with the early Christians who accepted it in. Phil often spoke of “Firebright,” which is what he called the light he sometimes communicated with.

The question of what exactly happened to the real PKD is an interesting one and he spent the last 8 years of his life trying to decipher this, considering all possibilities. I have started work on this question as well, looking at PKD’s experiences and personal journal (The Exegesis) and Carl Jung’s visionary experiences and personal journal (The Red Book). I have a draft for a book length project called Every Thought Leads to Infinity, which is a line from The Exegesis. The link leads to the abstract from my 2012 presentation of that name.

The movie seems to have all the right ingredients, other than a big special effects budget. The actors are believable in a PKD world. Knowing the back story as I do, it is difficult to say how well the movie stands on its own, apart from PKD’s stories and life. (The movie has just had limited release and has only made $8,493 at the box office). It could serve as an introduction to his later works and it also has a theme that is relevant in today’s society of a decade of war against terror. Before Nicholas Brady is executed without a trial, the last thing he says is, “I am an American citizen, I have rights!”


The tagline on the official movie website reads, “A message of hope from the stars.” In the end, PKD was always hopeful that the little guy, who takes the morally right stance against totalitarian political regimes and institutions of thought control, would come out on top. He also made arguments that are consistent with the Recovery Movement in mental health, a kind of human rights movement. I have summarized PKD’s views of humane mental health treatment in a presentation, “What Does it Mean to Be Human?” Philip K Dick believed that there was reason to hope, and in his worlds that hope often was supported by metaphysical/science fiction intervention from God or VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligence System).


[A quick mention about the music featured in the film. Much of it is by Robyn Hitchcock, and has a few old songs by his earlier band, The Soft Boys. However, I can’t find the soundtrack and it looks like Hitchcock wrote a song, “To Be Human” for the film that is not available elsewhere at this point. Neither does Alanis Morissette’s song, “Professional Torturer” appear to be available.]

[John Alan Simon, the director and co-producer of Radio Free Albemuth, also obtained the rights to VALIS. In an interview in Bleeding Cool, Simon talks about VALIS, and also about his own long-standing interest in visionary experience, having studied and written on Yeats and Blake’s visionary experiences. I have always thought that VALIS would make a great movie. It has more of a sense of humor, as well as darkness, it has the movie within a movie theme, as well as it just seems like the best PKD novel containing a little bit of everything from his life’s work].


The Imaginary World of Nebraska: Coniunctionis.19


I used to live in Nebraska, Omaha, from 1997-1999.

Last night, instead of watching the Oscars, I went with my friend, Don, to go see the movie, “Nebraska,” featuring Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb and Bob Odenkirk. It is directed by Alexander Payne and written by Bob Nelson. While it was nominated for 6 academy awards, it appears not to have won any, which is actually fitting as it is a subtle film about very small, but very important accomplishments. (Quotations used in this blog are paraphrases from my memory of watching the movie).

This morning, I started reading a book on Yoga Nidra by Richard Miller. The movie had been percolating away in the back of my mind. I have been working on a blog on listening to music and inner transformation, and I have been thinking about some writing that I was doing shortly after leaving Omaha, when I had returned back to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and was writing the “Coniunctionis” column. An idea for a blog came to me as I read Miller’s words.

“During waking consciousness, we perceive the world to be made up of solid and separate objects. We believe that our waking thoughts and the objects around us are real. But, could it be that waking-state thoughts and objects are also fabrications and projections of the mind, as empty of substance as our dream-self and dream-world?” (Richard Miller, Yoga Nidra, 18).

This reminded me of a topic that I wrote on years past in “Coniunctionis,” entitled, “Is Reality Real?” That was a focus on the movie, “The Matrix,” as well as Eastern philosophy. Now all these things come together in my mind this morning, thinking about Nebraska, a state often referred to as “The Heartland,” being in the center of the country and an agricultural state.

The movie is in black and white, which is very fitting for the bleakness of the soul and loss of hope that it portrays in small town America. The plot hinges around Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), a mean, demented alcoholic who mostly lives in his own world and his fixation on having won a million dollars in a magazine mail scam. He insists on going in-person to Lincoln, Nebraska, and he continues to set off walking there, appearing as a demented old man. His wife Kate (June Squibb) is another heartless and unappealing character. Crass and unsympathetic to Woody, she talks about how worthless he is and that if she had a million dollars she “would put him in a home.” The “hero” of the movie is David Grant (Will Forte). He stands in two worlds, the hopeless and loveless world of his parents and the “real” world of trying to adapt to his life in Billings Montana after his girlfriend left him and his job selling home audio and video equipment. His life seems bleak and purposeless as well, even though he is socially adapted in having a job and being able to see the narrow-mindedness of his parents. David is the predominantly likeable character in the movie, who keeps trying to tell his dad he didn’t win anything and that this is all a fantasy, but at the same time he searches for a deeper truth in Woody’s quest, realizing that the old man is just searching for something to live for.

David gradually comes to believe that the only way to get his father to see the truth of his fiction is to actually drive him to Lincoln, Nebraska, slowly and carefully, it turns out, because David is a cautious character who tries to play by the rules. In a way, his life is a fiction too, passionless, disconnected and empty. They slowly make some good time across the empty vistas between Billings and South Dakota. He convinces his dad to stop and see Mt. Rushmore, which his father dismisses as being badly done, as if the creator got bored and stopped part way through (a fitting comment about the lives of so many in the film, bored and not committed to a greater creation of a life).  They move along until Woody sneaks out of the motel at night, gets drunk and falls and opens up his head with a laceration. This “fall” is important, as is the opening up of the head because it is the point where David’s somewhat naive attempt to humor the old man and get out of Billings for a few days becomes quite serious, the quest to prove the truth of the false belief seems on the verge of failure. David proclaims the quest to be over, instead the family will meet up in Woody and Kate’s home town of Hawthorne, Nebraska.

What follows is a depressing look at the roots of where Woody and Kate grew up. Illusion after illusion is shattered for David as he hears his mother’s reminiscences of all the men who wanted to get into her “bloomers,” how Woody’s sister who died at 19 years old was a “slut,” all the while, she ignores the presence of Woody, who in truth is not fully there as he is single-mindedly focused on claiming his false million dollars. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but all the friends and family are presented as small-minded, ignorant, isolated, cut off from the world. In a sense their “reality” is a fantasy as well, yet it is a fantasy of “old wood and weeds” as Woody proclaims about the old family homestead that his father built, but is now abandoned and in disrepair. There are small moments of dark humor, as when David asks his dad how the old place looks, as they push aside abandoned items and dust and Woody says, “pretty much the same.” Kate then agrees, but takes the passive, disconnected comment and turns it into another putdown of others, when she says something like, “I’ll say, this is pretty much how his mom used to keep the house!”

At first the town welcomes Woody, particularly when he lets slip that he is going to Nebraska for the million dollars he won. He is hailed as the town hero, one of us who got out and made good, he thus brings “fortune” upon the town. But then people slowly start to turn mean and petty, threatening and intimidating David, wanting him to “share the wealth” with them for “helping” Woody in the past.  Even though Kate and Woody’s lives in Billings seem bleak and insular, it becomes clear why they left Hawthorne and they seem like successes in comparison to the world they left behind. They belong to a bigger world, but they still carry the smallness, meanness and despair of Hawthorne within them.

David begins to drink with his dad, hanging out in the generic, small town bars of middle America. He tries to have a heart to heart conversation with his dad about how to know when you are ready to get married. Woody just says, “Well, your mom wanted to get married.” David replies, “Well, were you in love.” Woody considers a moment and says, “I don’t believe that ever came up.” David asks further, “Well, did you talk about if you wanted to have kids and how many kids you wanted to have?” Woody again replies in a dismissive negative way, it never really came up, he “liked to screw, and your mom was Catholic, I figured we’d have a couple kids sooner or later.” David asks if Woody ever loved someone else or thought about being with someone else. Woody replies, “I just would have ended up with someone else who would have made my life miserable, so what’s the difference?”

The one bright spot in Hawthorne is Pegy Nagy (Angela McEwan) who runs the newspaper and turns out to be Woody’s former girlfriend. She appears as a compassionate angel in the film, comparatively to the others. She tells David about how kind and compassionate Woody was, sure he drank even before Korea, but people always took advantage of his kindness, he couldn’t say “no.” David always thought that his dad was “just” a mechanic in the war, but Pegy shows him an old newspaper photo of the brothers in uniform and tells him that Woody was shot down when his plane he was being transferred. She says that Woody never said much, but after the war the drinking got worse and he hardly talked. When David tells her there is no million dollars, Pegy says she can’t print that he won, but she kindly won’t “print that he didn’t win.” Her love for the kind Woody of old leads her to be the only other person besides David (and the doctors who stitch him up and the police who pick him up off the streets) who extends compassion to Woody and sees something in him other than the surface “truth” of a mean old drunk. Pegy’s compassion opens further compassion in David for his father.

While David always has a degree of compassion for his father, this increases as the movie goes on. He helps his father find all the things he is losing, his false teeth near the railroad tracks when he fell down drunk, and later even the “million dollar letter,” the only thing Woody cares about or for. Woody tells others that the first thing he is going to do is to buy a new truck and an air compressor. Eventually David asks his dad what the reality is behind these apparently capricious choices, particularly as he lost his driver’s license and can’t drive. Woody says, “Well, I always wanted to own a new truck.” It doesn’t seem like this is just a status symbol, but rather a dream of Woody’s as to what being successful means, maybe even what being a Person means, a dream of the heart that reveals the inner person (this is of course my extrapolation, the surface of the film is not as sentimental as I am, but I think there is a truth at a deeper level here). The reason Woody wants a new air compressor is that it is an old loss, his old partner at the mechanic shop “borrowed it” forty years ago and never returned it. Again, David seems to sense that there is something about Woody’s humanity behind this obsession with an old air compressor. When David asks, “Well that is just a little bit of the money, what would you do with the rest?” Woody replies, “the rest of it is for you boys, I always wanted to leave you something.”

I will reveal a plot spoiler as it is important to this essay as to a possible meaning of the movie. The quest seems to end in just another sad, small disappointment. Woody and David arrive in Lincoln and go to the office. Woody is summarily told by the employee that his is not one of the winning numbers, as an afterthought she says he can have a free gift. He chooses a baseball cap that says “prize winner” on it. He slumps into the car, David looks at the tired, old man, and says that they need to make a few stops on the way back home. First David trades in his Subaru for an “almost new” 5 year old pick-up truck, and he puts his dad on the title as well. Woody can’t believe that David could get this truck for his trade in and asks if the prize people had something to do with it, David passively agrees. Next they stop and buy a new compressor and it is loaded into the back of the truck. Then, the last thing is that David offers that Woody can drive the truck down the main street in Hawthorne. He does this, seen by all the important people, his old partner Ed (whom David, connecting to his own passion and sense of righteousness punched out after he was publicly humiliating his dad), and perhaps most importantly, by his former girlfriend, Pegy, who tears up (I imagine with a sense of pride and maybe even a validation that no matter how deeply buried the goodness and kindness is, it will persist and be rewarded in some way). Thus it appears that Woody did win the million dollars after all…

However, if that was the story, the creation of an illusion over another illusion, it would be a meaningless and hopeless tale. The true winning of the million dollars, from my perspective, is not the image of winning that the other people see. It is a small and subtle moment. David is driving his and his dad’s new truck, and for the first time, Woody sneaks a glance over at David, and he sees his son, David glances over and sees his father seeing him and Woody quickly looks away. I imagine that Woody sees the compassion in David for him, despite all the surface mistakes he has made in his life. There is a sense of continuity of the compassion that the young Woody had, always giving to others. His success is that he “got out” of “Hawthorne” and even though his life does not appear to be a success, his son has heart, compassion and right action…there is hope for his son in his life, a better life than the people of Hawthorne or of Woody and Kate, or of David’s previous life before the quest. A brief mention, David’s brother, Ross (Bob Odenkirk) is the one who seemed the even bigger success, appearing in a fill-in TV anchor role. There is probably something significant in the appearance of success of Ross, based on his appearance and presentation, he is a success in a profession that is often thought of as being based on falseness, rather than an emergence of the true self.

I see David as the “hero” of the story. While Woody goes through a transformation and redemption, he is still mostly in a fog. It is David who has his whole second half of his life ahead of him and he has the opportunity to choose between the passive isolation and hopelessness of the men in his family, or to actually live passionately (one could almost imagine a Wizard of Oz like transformation from black and white into color, however this is not that kind of movie). One could apply Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” from The Hero With A Thousand Faces to this movie. David and Pegy are the helpers on Woody’s quest, which involves a fall into a “special” world, in this case the past, he is seeking the boon, the million dollars, but he receives a different boon, the love and compassion, being seen, by David and Pegy. Woody, like a true mythological hero, drives in his resplendent chariot (a 5 year old Ford pick-up) as a King of Hawthorne, with his magical machine that can inflate what has become deflated. However, looking at David as the hero, he is the one who stands in the liminal space, half-way between worlds. In a sense, even though he has a moment of redemption, Woody is living mostly in that liminal state, a failed hero who never fully returned to the “real” world. Yet for David, his compassion for his father also transforms him. He is the only person who treats the old demented drunk as a human being. When the employee at the prize office asks David if his father has Alzheimer’s, he simply says, “No, he just believes what people tell him.” In a sense this is a commentary that he accepts the world that is given to him by society rather than creating his own reality, his own life.

As a hero, David has a kind of divine birth. His mother tells him, as a child, “you were so beautiful that people didn’t know if you were a boy or a girl.” And a former neighbor says to David, “You were like a little porcelain prince.” Hero myths often have an unusual birth and in this case, David stands between masculine and feminine. People notice his beauty, but he has not done anything with his beauty, now people don’t recognize him. As Sathya Sai Baba said, “If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character.” Or, a similar common quote on the internet is, “If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person.” This is not just the superficial beauty of physical appearance, but something deeper, and it is this essence that David reveals that had been hidden and forgotten within him.

One of the disillusionments that David has of his parents is when his dad’s old business partner, Ed tells him how Woody had an affair with a “half-breed” down at the reservation. Ed brags how Woody “thought he loved her,” but Ed convinced him to stay with Kate. Ed continues that if he hadn’t intervened, David wouldn’t have even been born, because that was before he was born. For David, he is disillusioned with his father, but it also reveals that the old Woody was capable of love and that he could look beyond the small-minded racial prejudices of his society.

David’s transformation is the rekindling of his heart of righteousness that leads to a revelation of beauty in his character. He sticks up for his father, he protects him, he loves him enough to create a momentary false reality, an illusion that at the same time means something quite profound to Woody, to Pegy, to Ed, and to Woody’s family, as for a brief moment they see the Kingly beauty and righteousness of a man who always was giving to others and yet lost himself in a fog of alcohol, disappointment and regret. The appearance is of course an illusion, but as the visionary scholar, Henry Corbin has written, we can only experience that which we have already within us in some germinal form.

So, why do I call this the “Imaginary World of Nebraska?” I would again like to appeal to Henry Corbin in his discussion of the imaginal, he argues for a state of being that is not a false illusion, but rather a true imaginal realm, that is perceived through “active imagination.” While this is a complicated topic, as reality always is, the gist of it is that Corbin writes about the Sufi and esoteric Islamic view that there is a true and existing imaginal realm, a visionary realm that the mystics visit, that stands between surface reality and spiritual reality, and which acts or determines what happens here (it is difficult to know where to recommend starting to understand Corbin, one place is Tom Cheetham’s book All the World an Icon, his paper, “The Prophetic Tradition and the Battle for the Soul of the World: An Introduction to the Spiritual Vision of Henry Corbin,” as well as his blog on Corbin,  As Amit Goswami, the self-described “quantum activist” and physicist, writes that consciousness is the ground of being, rather than consciousness arising from matter, matter arises from consciousness. By consciousness he does not mean the ego, but rather the Self, (see Goswami, The Quantum Doctor). Similarly, Corbin is not speaking of the fantasies of the ego, but of a higher order of consciousness in which what is imagined corresponds to what appears in reality.

I think this movie, with its work on themes of what is real and what is false is a rich ground to explore using some of these concepts about reality and imagination from Islamic and Hindu perspectives. Buddhist perspectives, too, speak of the world as illusion. The dilemma that I have always found is that if the world is illusion, what is real and why are we here. The author Philip K. Dick, in his explorations of “what is real?” and “what is the truly human?” came to the conclusion that compassion is the hallmark of a human being. We could then say that compassion is real, regardless of the degree of “reality” within which someone is living (and it could be argued that we all live in our own experiences or creations of the world). It is possible to see the bleak realities of many of the characters in the movie as manifestations of a lack of imagination, a lack of vision and ultimately a lack of compassion. Compassion cuts across false realities and compassion creates reality and it gives others the space for their true selves or true essences to unfold. In the movie, “Nebraska,” it is compassion that changes David, his relationship with Woody, creates a momentary reality that redeems Woody in the eyes of his past, creates a connection of love between David and Woody, and, ultimately holds the potential for David to be transformed and changed when he returns to his old life. One imagines that he has the possibility of creating a new reality for himself.