“This is Water” Speech David Foster Wallace’s Analysis

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“This is Water” Speech David Foster Wallace’s Analysis

This piece provides an in-depth analysis of David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech, “This is Water.” It discusses the speech’s central themes of consciousness, the default setting of human thinking, and the importance of choosing how to perceive others and the world. The essay examines Wallace’s insights on empathy, self-awareness, and the banalities of daily life, highlighting his profound reflections on the meaning of a well-lived life. PapersOwl offers a variety of free essay examples on the topic of God.

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The Universality of Worship: A Summary of “This is Water”

In David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech at Kenyon College, he elaborates on the viewpoint that we all worship something. In this speech of great perception, the late author suggests that life is a highway with two directions and many punctuated sub-directional signs. This concept is applicable in all aspects of life, more so when one chooses the system of worship as heard in Wallace’s address to students and guests.

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These are some of the highlights of his speech and why I strongly agree with the idea that we all worship something. As stated by Wallace, “You are not the center of the universe, don’t live life by default, and you choose what you worship” (Wallace). These values enabled me to strongly support the idea that we all worship something.

Dissecting the Center of the Universe Concept

Life has taught us that in the journey to establish one’s importance in life, we often default to the idea that we are the center of the universe. This subliminal process is a defaulting system that promotes one’s ability to function in a universe established by the political and religious systems of both ancient and modern societies. This system recognizes a person by their wealth, academic accolades, or other measurable classes of importance, such as sportsmanship, political and state governmental personnel, and movie celebrities. These statuses place these individuals as the center of the universe, with which I strongly disagree, and therefore endorse Wallace’s view on the center of the universe.

Living Life by Default: A Misguided Default System

Many people are living their lives by default. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, default is a selection made usually automatically or without active consideration due to a lack of a viable alternative. This concept promotes the idea that our innate abilities and genetic and biological composition predispose us to live our lives by default. I strongly disagree with this concept because many individuals rely on the moral, cultural, ethnic, legal, political and socio-geographical system of values to determine how their lives are lived. Thus, I support David Wallace’s idea that living your life by default is not ideally correct.

Choosing Your Worship: A “This is Water” Analysis

Every living individual believes in some form of worship. This can vary from belief in a supernatural entity (e.g., God, Allah, Jesus, Brahman, and Jehovah) to more secular focuses. For example, atheists may not believe in God but embrace the scientific, artistic, and natural wonders of life among which are the seven wonders of the world. Atheism, defined in Webster’s dictionary as a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of God or any gods, has often received criticism from religious believers. These religious individuals tend to condemn atheists for their lack of worship directed to a higher power. Some even hold the belief that all atheists are destined to spend their afterlife in hell, even though atheists don’t ascribe to the concept of heaven and hell. Regardless, each group freely chooses what to worship.

Lessons from the late author stress significant truths about life and how to navigate the world. I concur with David Foster Wallace’s perspective on yielding meaning to things, a trait he notes as fundamental to human nature. In his commencement address, he articulates our innate tendency to worship something, indicating that we merely decide the target of our worship. This could range from a supernatural power, a god created by people, material possessions, or even an abstract concept.

Works Cited

  1. “Learn English | David Foster Wallace ‘This Is Water’ (with BIG Subtitles).” YouTube, uploaded by Best English Speeches, 26 Dec. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ms2BvRbjOYo&t=53s.
  2. Wallace, David F. “Five Takeaways from the Greatest Commencement Speech of All Time.” Time, Time, 22 May 2015, time.com/collection-post/3894477/david-foster-wallace-commencement-speech/.
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"This is Water" Speech David Foster Wallace's Analysis. (2023, Aug 01). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/this-is-water-speech-david-foster-wallaces-analysis/