David Foster Wallace: 2005 Commencement

Yesterday was a really horrible day for me. Insomnia, explosions in Chinese factories where iPads are made (and all the news was about how inconvenienced Apple fanboys will be), recalcitrant students, etc etc. I was all set to write a long multilayered piece about these things and Fight Club and the Tao Te Ching and whatnot, but instead I was exhausted so instead I played Portal 2 for the third time.

I may still write that piece, but this morning I found something very soothing for my soul. It’s almost as though this thing were placed in front of me because the universe knew it was precisely what I needed: the commencement speech delivered by David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College in 2005.

Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving…. 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.

Please read the whole thing.

Comments are closed.