Thoughts on This is Water Speech by David Foster Wallace

Saturday

A friend sent me a YouTube link to this graduation speech a few weeks ago: This is Water by David Foster Wallace. The link to the illustrated version circulated by TED, has a broken link, and then today I can't find it, so there is one on You Tube (click link) that is the entire speech with high quality audio.

While watching I read some of the YouTube comments which seemed to focus on his depression and suicide. I'd never heard of the guy and I didn't know that he'd killed himself until I saw that. So, I went and read more about him on the Internet. There I learned he killed himself by hanging rather than by gunshot to the head which he mentions in this speech. I wondered what we are to think of his choice? Going back to the comments I tried to figure out their point, and it seems to be that a dismal outlook in this speech is being blamed on his depression and that the wrong-thinking led him to the suicide. Correct me if I am wrong. If people liked what he said about choosing and thinking and the value of education teaching kids to think, then why are they not discussing that in the comments?

Frankly these ideas are nothing new to me. I have these same thoughts all the time. This is real life. This is adult life. This is maturity. Real life has lot of tedium in it. This is why reality TV is fun to watch, they take thousands of hours of tedium out and condense it into something interesting. TV shows have editing to show a slant or to portray the goal the producer wants the viewer to see. The producers provide entertainment and creating a buzz for the viewers which in turn helps the show and the network by raising viewership. Then can charge more for advertising and ensure they still have a job, so on and so forth. TV and movies are an industry, they create a product, they are not real life, nor are reality TV shows. (I know that for sure because I was part of one episode of a reality show centering on a friend's story.

Yes life is about perception and our ability to be able to try to imagine life through someone else's life is important. That helps me get through my day as it helps me have more tolerance for others, and more patience, and it helps me grant people grace and it helps me forgive. Having a simple awareness is vital. I agree with him.

Sometimes even when we know things already it is good to hear the thing spoken of with eloquence. It is good to know others are thinking the same thing. It is good to know I am not crazy. Oh, but if he was technically crazy what does that now say about me? I won't go there.

What Wallace does not discuss which is what keeps me going is to realize the good within the mire and to feel grateful for the good and the positive. We need to feel happy about the good parts even when the ratio of mundane or the negative occurs in a much higher ratio than the fun or the good or the beneficial stuff.

This speech is said to have gone viral. Now TED has gotten into the game by producing a video of the speech with exciting visuals instead of the boring thing I saw which was a still photo of Wallace from another event in a different year, looking at that for minute after minute. I appreciate this TED version.

What do you think?





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