david foster wallace

2005 at Kenyon College – this is water

awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: this is water.

video link in case it embed goes down: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CrOL-ydFMI

transcript: http://web.archive.org/web/20080213082423/http://www.marginalia.org/dfw_kenyon_commencement.html


David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962 – September 12, 2008) was an award-winning American novelist, short story writer,essayist, and professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Wallace is widely known for his 1996 novel Infinite Jest, which was cited as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005 by Time magazine.

Los Angeles Times book editor David Ulin called Wallace “one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years”. With his suicide, he left behind an unfinished novel, The Pale King, which was subsequently published in 2011, and in 2012 was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A biography of Wallace by D. T. Max, Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story, was published in September 2012.





David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962 – September 12, 2008) was an American author of novels, short stories and essays, as well as a professor of English and creative writing. Wallace is widely known for his 1996 novel Infinite Jest, which was cited by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.

Wallace’s last, unfinished novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011 and was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. A biography of Wallace was published in September 2012, and an extensive critical literature on his work has developed in the past decade.

Los Angeles Times book editor David Ulin has called Wallace “one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years.”


Wallace died by suicide on September 12, 2008, at age 46. Wallace’s father reported in an interview that his son had suffered from depression for more than 20 years and that antidepressant medication had allowed him to be productive.[40] When Wallace experienced severe side effects from the medication, he attempted to wean himself from his primary antidepressant, phenelzine. On his doctor’s advice, Wallace stopped taking the medication in June 2007, and the depression returned. Wallace received other treatments, including electroconvulsive therapy. When he returned to phenelzine, he found that it had lost its effectiveness.[41] His wife kept a watchful eye on him in the following days, but on September 12, Wallace went into the garage, wrote a two-page note, and arranged part of the manuscript for The Pale King before hanging himself from a patio rafter.


revisit while reading – the boy who could change the world – Aaron Swartz‘ writings..

5\ books/culture

p 251-2 – he was obsessed with a lot of things… that was aaron. … even when he loved a book, he argued with it, or told the author about the book she should have written… aaron would have bee the perfect subject for a david foster wallace profile. as it was, aaron found a literary lodestar in the wordy moody warmhearted maddening saddening uplifting brilliant dfw. as a writer; aaron played with imitating wallace’s digressive footnote-freckled voice, but he quickly fell back into his own. as a read, though, aaron latched on to this grandmaster of seeing people as they really are and loving them nonetheless.. .. aaron maintained comprehensive wikipedia bibliographies of dfws works……later aaron would write: ‘dfw’s suicide hit me very hard, i ended up coping by reading every piece of nonfiction he’d ever published. he was a brilliant, tortured man and i see so much of myself in him. ‘ … i would say that aaron was the dfw of his generation, … – james grimmelmann


the end of the tour movie/trailer..


he wants something better than he has.. i want precisely what he has already..

if a book is about anything it’s about why..

reading you is another way of meeting you…

the more people think you’re great.. the bigger the fear of being a fraud

david thought books existed to stop you from being lonely..



David Foster Wallace on the really important kind of freedom (from THIS IS WATER) amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS thx @polanpic.twitter.com/s9oHoDRVSO

freedom from d f wallace


via Maria


I submit that this is what the real, no-bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out.


If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options.

a nother way.. for (blank)’s sake… let’s do this firstfree art-ists.

hosting life bits… via self talk as data et al

It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.


The real value of a real education [has] almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

‘This is water.’

‘This is water.’

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime.


Big Think (@bigthink) tweeted at 3:57 PM on Sat, Jul 08, 2017:
A David Foster Wallace speech from 2005 could end political polarization in America in 2017:

Wallace says, “The point of the fish story is merely that the most important, obvious realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.”


Wallace warns against “Blind certainty,” in our position, which he defines as, “A closed-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up.”  Instead, we should have some “critical awareness” about our certainties.


when we think we’re threatened, we tend to devolve into our ideological default setting, and to discredit our perceived opponent’s. Choosing what to think about means, “Do(ing) the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default-setting, which is to be deeply and literally self-centered, and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.”


if you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options.

a nother way via 2 convos.. as the day


fb share via john hagel


“Talent is its own expectation,” Wallace wrote in Infinite Jest, and he was, of course, correct: There’s a canny tautology to all of this. Genius, a means to godliness and its best evidence, cannot be argued with. Genius cannot be reasoned with. Genius is the answer and the question. It will be heard. It will be respected. Even when it kicks and stalks and climbs up the side of the house at night.

genius ness