Commencement Speech : David Foster Wallace

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David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech in May of 2005 at Ohio’s Kenyon College is considered one of the most captivating speeches in modern history. The commencement address eventually became a book published by Little Brown and Company entitled, “This is Water: Some thoughts, delivered on a significant occasion, about living a compassionate life.” In this address, Wallace attempts to convey to his audience that the “day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance.” David Wallace uses to create a convincing address. David Wallace uses two parables to illustrate his message of perception. In the first parable, he uses an old fish tale that dates back in some form to the expression, “It is said that fish do not see water, nor do Polar bears feel the cold,” from the Book by Arthur Lloyd, Every Day Japan. (Lloyd, 1909) This book was used as a tool to explain the typical daily routine of the Japanese to the British and Americans. The second parable details the age old conflict between religion and logic. He uses the these two tales to urge the soon to be graduates of Kenyon College to think beyond their observations. In his last few lines, Wallace says, ‘It is about the real value of a real education, which 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
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