This Is Water

This Is Water

Some Thoughts, Delivered on A Significant Occasion About Living A Compassionate Life

Book - 2009
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"Only once did David Foster Wallace give a public talk on his views on life, during a commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College. The speech is reprinted for the first time in book form in THIS IS WATER. How does one keep from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion? The speech captures Wallace's electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown, 2009
Edition: 1st edition
ISBN: 9780316068222
Characteristics: 137 pages ; 18 cm
Additional Contributors: Kenyon College


From Library Staff

"What's unique about Wallace's words: Though he warns graduates of the banalities of day-to-day adult life, he reminds them that their newly acquired skills can help them maintain awareness and compassion as they move forward in their quest for success." -

From the critics

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Mar 24, 2019

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.

That is real freedom.

That is being taught how to think.

The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the "rat race"--the constant, gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.


None of this is about morality, or religion, or dogma, or big fancy questions of life after death.

The capital-T Truth is about life *before* death.


It is unimaginably hard to do this--to live consciously, adultly, day in and day out.

Mar 24, 2019

If you worship money and things--if they are where you tap real meaning in life--then you will never have enough.

Never feel you have enough.

It's the truth.

Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you.

On one level we all know this stuff already--it's been codified as myths, proverbs, cliches, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story.

The trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power--you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay.

Worship your intellect, being seen as smart--you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.

And so on.


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Mar 24, 2019

Completed 3/24/19. This must be the shortest book I've ever read as an adult. Yet I feel as if I should copy the whole book under Quotations so that I can reread and remind myself of the beautiful truth that author David Foster Wallace advocates: make a conscious effort to deviate from our "default setting" of being grumpy, frustrated, and negative, blaming others for our grumpiness, frustrations, and negativity. Instead, be thoughtful, considerate, nonjudgmental, give people the benefit of the doubt. Above all, be kind.

Why did David Foster Wallace, such a talented, brilliant, wise writer with so much to contribute, commit suicide at the age of 46? Wikipedia attributes that to depression and the undesirable effect of antidepression medication. Who can say for sure? Ultimately, life's full of tragedies.



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