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Fritzie -


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Is this adult life?

At Aaron Swartz's memorial service, the Kenyon College commencement speech This Is Water was read, because DFW was one of Aaron's favorite thinkers. When I shared This Is Water at that time online with a high school student who sounded very much like the default DFW described in his speech, describing herself as unique at school among a sea of mindless drones, an older woman was aghast that I would share this work. Her position was that young people should not hear such a message, as they should consider themselves above and better than all those (presumably) average people around them.

Should young people hear a message like DFW's, or does it discourage them from believing they can do better than this?


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    May 18 2013: In answer to your question, I would say it depends on what character you most empathize with in the video. If you are a beautiful, self-centered, inexperienced person who thinks they have life pretty well pegged, it may have a message. You may pat yourself on the back and realize your view of life has some relevance.

    Further: David Foster Wallace is cool. I don't think this video supports the implications in David Foster Wallace's commencement speech.

    It has some elements of personal bias about people, and situations David Walllace, in my opinion, did not intend to convey

    Sometimes visuals can take away from the message offered by the audio and this video is a fine example of how readers can be focused on someone elses personal bias, towards some personaities. while not having a real grasp of the original authors intentions or introspections.

    I would suggest this video offers the real message David Foster Wallace meant to convey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vET9cvlGJQw

    and part II: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEjVnB7AeBQ

    Listen to David Foster Wallace's real Commensment speech which is best heard, not videolized, and you will understand what I mean.
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      May 18 2013: I agree that one would not want this message to be the single one. At the graduations I have attended in the last five years, I have noticed there were several speeches by different people with different messages.
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        May 18 2013: I would have to agree that David's original Commensment speech should be heard by all students, perhaps high school as well. I would hope that those students that give a commensment speech would seek originality and focus on something different from what others have given, something they have themselves experienced or learned.

        It's hard to be a musician and seek original stuff with so much stuff produced before you get on the active scene. But, it is the path one must take if they seek stardom. People like me are content to digest the implications and the message that the poets and philosophers offer.

        Mundane and redundent messages come in so many flavors. I sometimes wonder if originality actually exists on a general level in any given population of people or are only a few gifted with such talent. Are most of just like the monkeys that see and do?

        We should be thankfull for artists. They deserve more respect than we give them.
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          May 18 2013: I had heard the speech only as audio in Wallace's own voice and it was either that audio or the written transcription- I don't remember which- that I shared with the student.

          TED posted this video version yesterday which, as you say, is the videographer's interpretation rather than what DFW may have been visualizing.
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        May 19 2013: John

        I got the same idea from either?

        To me the question is do you create what you see or does what you see create you?

        To me he is saying you have a choice, if you acquiesce that is still a choice. More often than not you will acquiesce to something you do not agree with. That is the cardinal sin that will make you dead eyed. But it is easy because the collective, the majority has tacitly agreed to this reality.

        What is life? It is about overcoming barriers to reach goals. Without the barriers you arrive at a special flavor of hell that DFW describes. With this definition in mind pursuing goals is the antithesis of what he warns about.

        I agree artists are the ones we listen to.
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          May 23 2013: I agree, someone with solid objectivity could read the same message in the paraphrased video. However, those that don't see with such insight might get the impression that dead-eyed people look similar to stereotyped actors in the video. Younger, less experienced people might get the wrong impression of exactly what It is David Wallace was trying to say. It is that imagery that turned me off from the video.

          I see enough of that kind of projection in Television advertisements.

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