The capital-T truth is about life before death

In 2005, David Foster Wallace gave a commencement speech to students at Kenyon College. It’s one of my very favourite things, and I keep meaning to post a link to it here.

David Foster Wallace: This is Water (PDF)

For the young people who apparently want everything as video, the YouTube version is here.

Sometimes you come across a piece that manages to express something in a way that pierces your soul. It could be a song, or a painting, a throwaway line or a speech given by a writer to a bunch of teenagers. This, for me, is one of those. I’ve read it more times than I’ve listened to Joe Le Taxi, and I’ve listened to Joe Le Taxi a lot.

I don’t want to spoil it — it’s beautifully crafted, terribly sad and incredibly empowering. But I’ll admit that Wallace’s death hit me very hard: I think he succumbed to the very demons his piece helped free me from.

I hope you find it as powerful as I did, and still do.

This is water.

This is water.