Read This Now: David Foster Wallace's 2005 Commencement Speech
Until all the press came out about its recent publication as a paperback, we had never read the speech David Foster Wallace delivered at Kenyon College in 2005. But now that we have, we're thinking we may need to update our Top Ten All-Time Best Graduation Speeches. "Keeping it real" never sounded so poetic. Give it a read (and check out Gradspot.com Editor-in-Chief Chris Schonberger's thoughts on the speech, quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune)!
In this excerpt (one of our favorites), DFW mercilessly describes the day-in-day-out annoyances of adult life. (Don't worry, there is a redemptive message as well, but you'll have to read the whole thing for that.)
By way of example, let's say it's an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you're tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there's no food at home. You haven't had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It's the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be: very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it's the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. And the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it's pretty much the last place you want to be but you can't just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store's confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren't enough check-out lanes open even though it's the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can't take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.