How’s The Water?
Something inspiring and non-food-related for a change
Sooo… the weather and the travels have caught up with me and I’ve been nursing a terrible head cold for most of this week.
I pushed myself to continue working - because deadlines? - even though I knew this was my body telling me I needed a break.
Well, I finally took a whole day off yesterday and that has really improved things, but of course it means I didn’t have the time or the energy for a fully-fledged Thin Ink issue this week. I’d already been working on a good topic and had come up with what I think is a winning title but you’ll have to wait till next week now.
For this week, I’m suggesting you go read or listen to the link below, for something far, far better than what I could possibly write. Ever.
This is Water by David Foster Wallace.
This is a speech David Foster Wallace gave to the graduating class at Kenyon College in 2005, the only time he gave a public talk and a mere three years before his own untimely death.
I didn’t study liberal arts and in fact I’m not even a regular reader of his work. Many moons ago, I tried reading Infinite Jest, said to be one of the best books of all time, but like many people, didn’t get very far.
But this speech is amazing and is so, so relevant to the world we are living in now.
I had read and listen to it many years ago and forgot all about it, until someone who read one of my newsletters reminded me of it. So thank you!
Two short excerpts -
“This is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.”
“Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education–least in my own case–is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualise stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me.
As I’m sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotised by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.”
As always, have a great weekend and make sure to drink lots of water! Fresh ginger tea is reviving me.