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A Graduation Speech……For All Of Us: “This Is Water”

Keith Bedford, Getty Images

Novelist David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water” speech has meaning for all of us – today, this hour, this minute, this second.  Director Matthew Freidell has crafted a new short film in recognition of that.

In it Wallace, now posthumously, asserts that before you spend another mindless moment doing something that makes you feel vulnerable, helpless, before you spend another moment pounding away on a keyboard, or waiting in line at the checkout – in what Wallace calls another “…crowded, hot, slow, consumer h***-type situation,” take a few minutes to observe and appreciate what is around you.

Wallace says by changing your thinking you can turn everyday troubles into the mechanisms by which you transform the annoying and the mundane, into meaningful – even sacred – experiences, indicative of the “mystical oneness of all things.”

The speech was originally delivered at Kenyon College in 2005.   It has been developed into a new “videogram” by Freidell’s The Glossary.

The company seeks to celebrate “well selected words” and in the selection of “This is Water,” their good taste is obvious.  Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times would agree, calling David Foster Wallace a “prose magician” after his death.

Make the time to check out the video:

The inspiration he provided others was apparently not enough for himself.  In 2008, at the age of 46, David Foster Wallace committed suicide.  After battling depression his entire life he seemed determined that others, especially those graduating and just entering “real life,” did not become overwhelmed by the same things that eventually overtook him.



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