There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
I’m going to try and take it serious just for one post and move away from movies and music.
David Foster Wallace was an incredible man. Just from reading his books I knew that I would never be as profound, in touch or just as smart as this man was. He was a genius. Unfortunately he was a genius with demons and these demons led to his demise.
David Foster Wallace was an award-winning American novelist, short story writer, essayist and university professor. He was heralded as “one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years”.
It would be hard for me to talk about his literary work due to the complexity of it. As well I would not be able to illustrate to you how beautiful his work is over the internet, so i’d rather not try.
However, I am going to talk about a commencement speech he gave titled “This is Water”. The Speech was given by Wallace at Kenyon College on the 21st of May 2005, three years before his passing. The essay covers subjects such as “the importance of being well adjusted’, “the essential lonesomeness of adult life” and “the difficulty of empathy.”
This speech is absolutely heart wrenching. Listening to him as he navigates his way through trying to impose his views but rather share his experiences is truly inspiring.
The part that hit home most of me was this…
“So let’s talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about quote teaching you how to think. If you’re like me as a student, you’ve never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. But I’m going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we’re supposed to get in a place like this isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about. ”
I hate how people say that, but after listening to this speech and reading the speech transcript I really began to understand what he was talking about. For me I think just hearing it from him allowed me to distant myself from someone at university doing, allowing me to really listen to his ideas.
So please, if you do read my blog. Watch the commencement speech, read the transcript and if you’re up for more of a challenge have a go at one of his books. You won’t be disappointed.