The Commencement Speech By David Foster Wallace Essay

The Commencement Speech By David Foster Wallace Essay

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The commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace in the autumn of 2005, is a very deep speech that examines the whole idea of a Liberal Arts education at an extremely deep and intellectual level. In the 22 minute long speech Wallace talks about how higher education not only teaches you to think but “how to exercise some control over how and what you think.” (Wallace). Wallace later in his speech stresses the importance of this level of thinking by saying “if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed” (Wallace) What he means by saying this is that if you cannot think at a higher level and make sense of real world problems your life will become meaningless and you will become dead inside your head.
In Wallace’s Commencement address to Kenyon College he talks about how the daily routine of post-college adult life can be a long boring day after day process unless a person can make themselves think outside of just their own needs and desires. Wallace stresses the idea that all people really can think about in their day to day lives is themselves. To explain this Wallace uses the story of people in rush-hour trying to shop at the grocery store and getting aggravated when there aren’t enough registers open to check out their purchases. He uses this example to describe how people make themselves the center of the universe and how their own needs should be met before anyone else’s own. Wallace is trying to describe how higher education helps people think more clearly, and how the knowledge obtained also helps to make your mind more capable of evaluating situations and how they affect more than just one’s own self.
I personally do not believe that I am or am not the center of the universe....


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...has no clear understanding of the world as it is. The untrained thinker is to themselves a slave of their own mind. The untrained minded person also has no idea he is in a cave like the two fish in Wallace’s speech that have no clue they are in water cause it is all they have ever known.
In David Foster Wallace’s speech later made in the book This is Water Wallace lectures a group of soon to be college graduates about the meaning of a higher level of thinking, and on the importance of a well-trained mind that is capable of thinking outside of your own self-centered universe. In his speech he hits a vein with me and really makes me consider how I deal with day to day life and how I view every situation that I come across. I have taken away from this speech and response a sense of self check about how my default settings work and how I place my own value in the world.

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