David Foster Wallace Tells Us About Freedom

This being Commencement Time, I'd like to share this gently dramatized version of David Foster Wallace's 2005 address to the graduates of Kenyon College, in which he makes the argument that when you are dog-tired, stuck in traffic, waiting in the supermarket line, when everything is flat, dull, empty, purposeless, this is where being educated helps. Because you went to college and learned different ways to think about things, you have the muscles. You exercised them at school. You can stand in that supermarket line, surrounded by irritating, equally bored people, and if you want, you can imagine them beautiful or gentle or helpless — even if they're not. You have the choice. Your education gives you the option to see things from several perspectives. You can call it delusional. Or you can call it hope. Or you can call it a form of pain relief from your own pain. Whatever you call it, with it, you are unshackled. That's what a college education can give you, says David — a chance to fly free.

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