The Medium and the Message: David Foster Wallace, "This Is Water"

Sharing this weather, here, every day, we’re soaking in it. We talk about  the weather in the elevators of our mornings, in the check-out lines of evening.  This is reality–so obvious, so ordinary, and so different for each of us!

Yet we share, if only for  the moment, a common connection, our common humanity.

I know I am not the only one who appreciates the poetry in the everyday, the life-cycle living out at Walgreens–Pampers to Depends, bright- colored nail polish, pet food.

Surely I am not the only one  who has stopped to admire the moon over the expressway?   I hope you, too, take time to look up at it, on a clear evening. Just be careful in traffic!

Today, a  friend sent me this, and I have to share it with you, too. “This is Water”–It is the commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College in 2005. You can see it  here.

This reinterpretation, or reimagining,  has gone viral 8 years after the speech itself, and 5 years after Wallace’s death (suicide) at the age of 46.

Why has it become so popular now?  That’s a good question. Timing, maybe, just in time for  the commencement season?

It’s that time of year again, in which we offer up inspirational words of wisdom to the graduates, sending  young people off into the world, full of possibilities and balloons at Party Central.

But that speech was 8 years ago–that’s two generations of college grads!  George Bush was President, then,  it’s a post-crash world, and the economy is still in recovery mode.

But maybe it’s the message people want or need to hear even more now—to be awake and aware in this world, in these times.

Here is the unadorned audio version of the 22 minute speech, courtesy of Business Insider.

David Foster Wallace was an amazing writer, and  a wonderful speaker, too. This is really  one of the great commencement speeches of any time. The whole speech is not as visually clever as the viral version, but it is wild and  beautiful, real as life, clear  as water.


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Filed under: seasons

Tags: graduation, reality, YouTube

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