For this blog post (which will be my last while I am still in Senior Seminar), I wanted to format it a little differently than what was assigned. We were asked to read David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005 and write a paragraph or two about what aspects of it surprised me or resonated with me. In all honesty, his entire speech left me speechless and amazed. I don’t know if it’s because I will be graduating in a few short weeks or if he’s yet another scholar discussing the positives of a liberal arts education, but what he talked about was simply astounding. So, for this post, I am going to include some of my favorite quotes below so that you can be astounded as well.
. . . 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. . .
This is definitely important to remember for any graduate preparing to become an “adult” within the next few weeks. Learning is not something that you only do in school, it is something that you do in everyday life. By learning and listening to others, you as a human being are making yourself into something meaningful and important and worthwhile.
. . . I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. . .
Long story short, you can’t just go through your adult life without making something out of it or else you’d be equivalent to a zombie on The Walking Dead. And I am deathly afraid of zombies so why would I want to go through life without making any connections to the outside world or creating meaning for myself? I think that is what Wallace is going for here, letting us know that our education is not frivolous and actually helps us better our future selves.
I want to leave this quote with you so that you can really think about yourself and your life and hopefully reevaluate it before it is too late and you are already out in the real world. Be brave, and live while you have the chance.
. . . The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death. It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time . . .
Until next time.
explore. muse. create.
Check out the speech here: