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David Foster Wallace is on YouTube giving the commencement address at Kenyon College, a speech that when published, is called T - Essay Example

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Name Date Course Section/# David Foster Wallace: A Review and Discussion of the Commencement Speech “What is Water” Although presented in a manner that would encourage an individual to make light of his approach, David Foster Wallace’s commencement address, entitled, “What is Water”, engages the reader/listener with a further understanding of not only the importance of a liberal arts education but the continued relevance and importance of making an active choice to “think” on a daily, hourly, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis…
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David Foster Wallace is on YouTube giving the commencement address at Kenyon College, a speech that when published, is called T

Download file to see previous pages... As a function of seeking to understand this particular speech and a more effective manner, the following analysis will take a nuanced approach, incorporating criticism, review, and analysis of Wallace is pronouncements in the hopes that the reader will gain a more informed understanding with respect to the approach that he champions and the relevance of the information that he presents. Wallace starts by discussing the experience of life; exhorting the listener to “construct meaning and create relevance” from the otherwise mundane and seemingly pointless activities that all human beings, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, or ethnic origin, must engage as a function of living. From there, the author delves into the issue of what a liberal arts education actually means; denoting that the education itself means nothing. Rather, the ultimate meaning that is derived from a liberal arts education is solely contingent upon what the individual has the potential to do with it. However, the author strongly encourages the listener to avoid a type of arrogance; maintaining critical awareness in its stead. Whereas it is true, as a Wallace states, that reality is ultimately designed with the individual experience as the only measurement through which understanding can be accomplished, seeking to define the world through such a selfish viewpoint necessarily decreases the degree of empathy and understanding that an individual might otherwise exhibit (Boswell 368). As a function of this, Wallace encourages the individual with regards to what they should pay attention to; defining the debate within oneself and utilizing the liberal arts education as a means of affecting this. As such, not becoming detached, not refusing reality because it is painful, sad, monotonous, or mundane, and continually exercising a right and will towards thinking come to be the prime mechanisms through which Wallace point of view can most reasonably be affected (Veggian 99). In effect, what Wallace is promoting is an understanding of the fact that thinking is a choice and should not be an automatic setting; albeit a choice that a liberal arts education necessarily encourages. Finally, hammering this point home further, Wallace discusses the necessity of not being lulled into a complacent routine. Rather, seeking out “thinking” and utilizing the experiences and knowledge that are gained from a liberal arts education is not only an opportunity but in fact something of a calling that each and every individual that experiences such an education and can draw upon it must necessarily engage. The irony of all of this has to do with the fact that even though each of these points is effectively expounded upon by Wallace, the author and speaker himself ultimately committed suicide in 2008 (Fest 127). Although the events surrounding his suicide remained largely misunderstood, it is the view of this particular author that Wallace was unable to ascribe to the high standard of open-mindedness, compassion, and a sense of selflessness that he promoted to the audience within the commencement address. However, this inability upon Wallace part should not be understood as an effective dismissal of the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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