I know it’s eight years old, and I know David Foster Wallace achieved quite a status, but a lot of us who are hard wired to love the man’s vulnerability, linguistic talent, writings and truthfulness forget that our natural default settings, indeed Wallace’s own, are typically pretty shitty. It takes work and practice to be a good person, to be conscious. No matter how above it all you think you are, and I’ve been there, this 22-minute speech delivered to the 2005 graduating class at Kenyon College is beyond words. There will be some people that have it go over their heads, but many of those people aren’t the types to get through the whole thing anyway. I urge all people, however, to give this speech a listen. It’s probably worth coming back to on a semi-annual basis.
David’s contribution to the world of consciousness is something to behold. The times in the speech when the audience gives in to their default settings and cheers when they cannot even see the disappointing irony leave much to be desired, but they highlight both Wallace’s genius and our need to forgive those around us who “don’t get it.” I never met David Foster Wallace; I miss him dearly.
R.I.P. David Foster Wallace
This is a link to an interview with DFW’s sister, Amy Wallace-Havens, conducted by Anne Strainchamps for Wisconsin Public Radio’s fantastic radio program To the Best of Our Knowledge. Click the “listen” button beneath the short description and just above the lines of stars to rate the post.