I’ve needed to write this Note for a while so it’s about time I did!
In several of my Notes, like Happiness for example, I quote an essay by one of my favorite authors, David Foster Wallace, called This Is Water.
Prior to being an essay Mr. Wallace gave This Is Water as a commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005. Someone in the audience recorded it and it was traded around like a Grateful Dead bootleg until someone transcribed it and published it.
Now with the magic of YouTube you can find the original recording online.
I cannot begin to explain to you the power of Mr. Wallace’s brief comments on that day in 2005. For me to lack the words to explain is saying something, because words, words I give freely, to both the willing and the resistant. Both intentionally and obliviously I am well known for educating people against their will. But, if I tried to explain why you should take the time to get to know This Is Water any words I chose simply would not match the words already there.
So I will just say this:
It did not change my life, it changed how I chose to understand and interpret the experiences of my life.
Oh, and it made me a better interpreter.
Since I posted my Note called Happiness I have seen that several people reposted just the David Foster Wallace quote on social media. And well they should. That quote is worth sharing.
That is just a few lines from a greater masterwork. There is so much more there!
All that being said, if I haven’t convinced you to read This Is Water, (if you take any number of my classes sooner or later I will make you. Because I’m the teacher and I can) then I will offer you first an appetizer and then the full meal.
The Appetizer: Someone made a short film of a heavily portion of the 2005 original recording at Kenyon College. It is heavily edited but still quite amazing.
I hope watching that entices you sit down to The Full Meal: The full 2005 Speech.
The full meal so very much worth the price of twenty minute of your life.
Both links are captioned fairly accurately.