English 1010 – B23
February 23, 2016
Pretend this is not about water
Water is something that the average person does not notice, water is simply water. On May 21, 2005, the seniors of Kenyon College assembled in the gymnasium to accept their diplomas. A man named David Foster Wallace was standing on the stage preparing to give the Commencement speech. Most of these addresses could be bundled together with several common themes: follow your dreams, you can achieve anything and do whatever is most pleasing. These are all common topics of commencement addresses at just about every high school around the world. However, this commencement address from Wallace will be ...view middle of the document...
Wallace refers to this as a human’s “natural default setting” (205). To further explain his main idea, Wallace creates a hypothetical situation especially relating to the parents’ in the audience who had to make a late night trip to a crowded supermarket after a tiring day of work to get groceries for the family. Not only is this person upset because of the all the other shoppers getting in the way, but because the work and exhaustion are a daily routine, a routine that will start again the next day. This is where Wallace’s humor kicks in, and it not only refreshes and makes the audience laugh, but still helps to prove his point through this story due to the fact that many people think this way. “The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what ‘day in day out’ really means,” Wallace assures his student audience, still repeating his supermarket tale (Wallace 203). After Wallace explains that the example given is not the correct way to think, he gives other examples of how people think that is incorrect. Then he restates the importance of this change of thinking. “If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is . . . then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable” (Wallace 207). Wallace closes by stating that this change in thinking is all about awareness, only acknowledging what you want to. He concludes by reminding the students to keep in mind, “This is water, this is water” (Wallace 209).
I agreed with many of Wallace’s points, and even though his main tool was a hypothetical situations, it is still clear what messages he is trying to convey and he does so very articulately. He established very early on what he wanted to say, and what he wanted those seniors to walk away with. The work place is far harder and more intricate than a college class, even though it is difficult to see it...