Monday, May 27, 2013

dfw commencement speech

Although I hope you're able to focus and feel the moment when Sam and others speak at graduation, the high winds and high spirits can be a challenge, and it's easy to get distracted by inflatables, "woo hoos!" and your life passing before your eyes. 

So here is a speech to consider in a quiet moment between now and then.  David Foster Wallace, one of the most insightful, prescient voices of our time, gave this speech at Kenyon College in 2005. [*Too bad the jerks at the DFW Literary Trust have forced the video off YouTube, Vimeo, and everywhere else I looked for it.  Hard to imagine that a guy who shared such profound ideas with the public in life would want them silenced posthumously.  If you find it please share a link in the comments.] 

One highlight among many:
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. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about "the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master".

Read.  Contemplate.  Enjoy.  Repeat.  :)

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