We are not primarily biological, with mind emerging as a kind of iridescence, a kind of epiphenomenon at the higher levels of organization of biology. We are hyperspatial objects of some sort that cast a shadow onto matter. The shadow in matter is our physical organism.
At death, the thing that casts the shadow withdraws, and metabolism ceases. Material form breaks down; it ceases to be a dissipative structure in a very localized area, sustained against entropy by cycling material in, extracting energy, and expelling waste. But the form that ordered it is not affected. These declarative statements are made from the point of view of the shamanic tradition, which touches all higher religions. Both the psychedelic dream state and the waking psychedelic state acquire great import because they reveal to life a task: to become familiar with this dimension that is causing being, in order to be familiar with it at the moment of passing from life.
The metaphor of a vehicle—an after-death vehicle, an astral body—is used by several traditions. Shamanism and certain yogas, including Taoist yoga, claim very clearly that the purpose of life is to familiarize oneself with this after-death body so that the act of dying will not create confusion in the pysche.
—Pale Blue Eyes
2004 interview with David Foster Wallace for City & Arts Lectures