Tag Archives: david foster wallace

Default Settings: Words of Wisdom from David Foster Wallace

Author David Foster Wallace spoke at the 2005 graduation ceremony for Kenyon College. His message was directed at students who were about to venture into the world as independent, functional humans but his message on thinking is important for everyone to hear even ten years later. In our current global state, perhaps it’s time to relearn how to think.

“Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe. The realest, most vivid and important person in existence.

We rarely talk about this sort of natural basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive but it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you were not at the absolute center of.

The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU. Or behind YOU.
To the left or right of YOU on YOUR tv or YOUR monitor and so on.
Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow but your own are so immediate, urgent, real. Continue reading

The Most Inspiring Thing David Foster Wallace Ever Said

You have a choice.

It’s as simple as that. Do you want to be irritated or uplifted, cynical or curious? Do you want to experience the world as inherently aggressive or inherently cooperative? Every day we encounter situations that stretch and test us, but every moment we have the power to choose how we react.

In this poignant excerpt from a commencement speech David Foster Wallace delivered to Kenyon College’s class of 2005, Wallace argues that the banalities of working adult existence provide constant opportunities for imaginative thinking. Set against a powerful video produced by LA-based film company The Glossary, Wallace’s argument hits home and is far too familiar to brush aside.

Does this inspire you or do you think David Foster Wallace has it all wrong? And what about those in our society who don’t fit the middle to upper middle class, white-collar existence? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

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