Despite the time crunch, Wallace entertained the student responsible for bringing him to campus and her friend, Chris Bench. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute centre of. Not that that mystical stuff's necessarily true: The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it. I agree with a lot of what Wallace said in his speech. If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I'd ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your scepticism about the value of the totally obvious. Because here's something else that's true.
Thompson wore out the tape transcribing the speech, then sent it to Wallace-l in May 2005. But the truth remains that for most people like him—white, male, preternaturally talented—being in the world is not a matter of moral courage. The address was saved, thanks to the enterprising soul who transcribed it from video and posted it on the Internet, where, somehow, it came to the attention of my family friend — who would not have known David Foster Wallace if he fell on her. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it. You stated the tensions very clearly.
Here are our picks for its most important lessons: 1. Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education--least in my own case--is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualise stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me. The night before the commencement, Nugent and her husband hosted Wallace for a dinner in a formal room in Kenyon's dining hall. Wallace finally agreed to speak, but made two requests: He wanted to play tennis with a professor he knew at Kenyon, and he wanted to make sure that Manecke would be there when he arrived. Does it his suicide change your opinion of what he says? David Foster Wallace is the author of , , , , and the unfinished book he was working on at the time he committed suicide:.
Where all of us can be consoled, if only for an instant, by the notion that the insight we lack has been here all along! Nugent noticed how easily and graciously Wallace spoke with each person who approached him. The sender, a family friend, was an incurable forwarder of two-year-old John Kerry jokes, alerts for nonexistent computer viruses and poetry about strangers who turn out to be Jesus. You choose what you worship This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. It was almost as though Wallace thought if we believed him enough, he might eventually believe what he was saying, too. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centredness because it's so socially repulsive.
Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. These are the things the world encourages us to worship, what we worship by default. It just depends on what you want to consider. But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. It is also a remarkably empty account of the ethical challenges and obligations of adult life.
The Significant Occasion in question was the 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College, which you used to be able to watch on Youtube. The act of writing by hand helps you remember the definitions. I think that people do think that they are the center of the universe. . Over the last six months, at least, this is what I have been telling myself.
I am not the wise old fish. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Pietsch said he remembers hearing the address was happening, but didn't speak with Wallace about it. One such part involves boredom, routine and petty frustration. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. Wallace didn't wear the bandanna when he gave the speech, though he did wipe his face with it a few times while he spoke.
And here is the speech in full. 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. There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. The terrible master eventually defeated David Foster Wallace, which makes it easy to forget that none of the cloudlessly sane and true things he had to say about life in 2005 are any less sane or true today, however tragic the truth now seems. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm going to be pissed and miserable every time I have to foodshop, because my natural default-setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me, about my hungriness and my fatigue and my desire to just get home, and it's going to seem, for all the world, like everybody else is just in my way, and who are all these people in my way? It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Wallace is right in encouraging education through awareness.
And look at how repulsive most of them are and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem here in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line, and look at how deeply unfair this is: I've worked really hard all day and I'm starved and tired and I can't even get home to eat and unwind because of all these stupid goddamn people. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Schumacher told him that while there were in fact some errors, it approached the concept of infinity in an interesting and accessible way. Spread in front of him were the pages of the Commencement address he was about to give, occupying most of the table in the Sunset Cottage seminar room. The moral code he espoused at Kenyon in 2005 is what Wallace learned in Alcoholics Anonymous: just because something is clichéd doesn't mean it isn't true.
So he set out to expand on the article and continue his quest to understand Wallace, who dealt with depression and addiction before killing himself in 2008, at 46. Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. Real freedom is sacrifice The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. Wallace is right in saying that knowledge is about the simple awareness and becoming less arrogant. David Foster Wallace wearing his signature bandana. She and Jackie Giordano-Hayes '05 shepherded Wallace's name through the nominating process for the junior class committee, figuring that as someone who taught at Pomona College, he would understand Kenyon's atmosphere. Perhaps their lives are much worse than ours.