Seemita's Reviews > This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

This Is Water by David Foster Wallace
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it was amazing
bookshelves: novella, non-fiction, america, for_legacy, me, cult

‘This is Water’.

Water - Now I love that metaphor. I end up addressing many things and their traits and their progresses and their declines through this unbound source of immense satiation. But how does this fit into a speech delivered to students, facing a future that’s unknown and by that very virtue, intimidating?

Ah well, the thoughts weaved into this beautiful message says it all. For a text that I ended up highlighting half of, I would like to take this particular insight with me, forever.
You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship...

Because here's something else that's true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.
Don’t take my word for it though. Read it. And find your meaning.
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rahul Ji :)


message 2: by Pearl (new)

Pearl Angeli Great review, Seemita! :)


message 3: by Dolors (new)

Dolors I still haven't dared to plunge into DFW's eclectic intellect, and you might just have shown me the place to start, Simi. It's all about the course of the river within us that never stands still until it stops at the sea. What boulders or rolling stones the course of a life carries away with it depends on our choices, and worshipping literature and friendship doesn't sound such a bad alternative to me, particularly if you can share it with keen, sensitive and talented people such as you!:)


7jane This is certainly a good, easy to place to start with him (I certainly enjoyed it) :)


Himanshu Now that you are done with Ulysses, may I just request you to pick up Infinite Jest, seeing that you have tasted some water from DFW's shore? ;)


Seemita rahul wrote: "Ji :)"

:)


Seemita Pearl wrote: "Great review, Seemita! :)"

Thanks Pearl :)


Seemita Dolors wrote: "I still haven't dared to plunge into DFW's eclectic intellect, and you might just have shown me the place to start, Simi. It's all about the course of the river within us that never stands still un..."

I am just like you, dear D! DFW continues to be a far territory that I have, slowly, begun inching towards. This article makes some wonderful points, in plain, daily life-inspired nuances. I am certain you would come to love it. And worshipping, indeed, is an ethereal charmer that has always come to rescue those who love and revere without logic! We are kin and we know that, don't we? :)


Seemita 7jane wrote: "This is certainly a good, easy to place to start with him (I certainly enjoyed it) :)"

Spot on, Jane! A quick but substantial peek into his world. I am glad to find you, too, have responded favorably to this text :)


Seemita Himanshu wrote: "Now that you are done with Ulysses, may I just request you to pick up Infinite Jest, seeing that you have tasted some water from DFW's shore? ;)"

Ah! You jest in infinite measure, my friend! One tome is already elevating me; let not another bring the risk of disturbing the balance ;)


Vipassana Love! I read this in a bookstore and didn't buy it, but it stayed with me so much that a week later, I went back and got it. I now flip through it quite frequently. Therapeutic, yes?


Christopher For what it's worth, DFW is infinitely readable (though I've only done several essays and IJ). I find DFW generally strives to be accessible, and succeeds, more than not.


Helle Great review, Seemita, and a good intro to the fabulous mind of DFW, as 7Jane points out. I agree with both your review and comments in the thread that worshipping can be a way of directing one's energy in a positive direction, and that will be individual. I suspect that a number of us here on GR, will include literature, as Dolors mentions! (I know I do) I've also read (and to my relief, understood) one of DFW's essay collections whose title story, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, cracked me up. Let me know if you decide to embark on Infinite Jest; I might need to rely on a buddy-read to embark on that one!


Seemita Vipassana wrote: "Love! I read this in a bookstore and didn't buy it, but it stayed with me so much that a week later, I went back and got it. I now flip through it quite frequently. Therapeutic, yes?"

Therapeutic, yes! Love, yes! Totally, yes! I am going to do pretty much what you are doing, Vipa - flip through it every now and then :)


Seemita Sabah wrote: "There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.

This is one sentence provides the greatest substance and as such sustenance for me. For ea..."


I am amazed at your ability to arrive at the distilled wisdom of each text that you come across, Sabah. You are right; we all worship and that too, ardently. DFW fuses the above thought so seamlessly into his address that I wondered if such wisdom came to him through experience or as a stroke of momentary brilliance. Then again, I checked the entire text and found it to be inked on the skin of life; so dense and clear, like an image with whom one has had the privilege of spending a considerable amount of quality time. For never failing to send the blanket of your warm words my way, thanks a ton, my friend :)


Seemita Christopher wrote: "For what it's worth, DFW is infinitely readable (though I've only done several essays and IJ). I find DFW generally strives to be accessible, and succeeds, more than not."

That's high praise, Christopher. Thanks for brining in the perspective of someone who has read him. I have been keeping DFW at bay but all, at once, have found some vein to approach him. Your words certainly bounce me up. This is my first of his' and if morning shows the day, I can't wait for the day to unfold :)


Seemita Helle wrote: "Great review, Seemita, and a good intro to the fabulous mind of DFW, as 7Jane points out. I agree with both your review and comments in the thread that worshipping can be a way of directing one's e..."

Thank you for sharing those interesting snippets about DFW, Helle! That thought about worshipping caught me strong and tight. And resonated so loud! My interest in him is certainly piqued and I am, quite, looking forward to read him more. Was Consider the Lobster and Other Essays the book from where you referred the story? Do let me know since I have a copy of that. And IJ? Well, honestly, no plans in near future. But I assure to ping you as and when I decide to go with it; I would be more than glad to buddy it with you :))


message 18: by Helle (last edited Jan 20, 2016 11:39AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Helle Seemita wrote: "Helle wrote: "Great review, Seemita, and a good intro to the fabulous mind of DFW, as 7Jane points out. I agree with both your review and comments in the thread that worshipping can be a way of dir..."

Actually, Seemita, mine appears to have been a mix of a few essays from Consider the Lobster and most from the one called A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again - simply named after one of the essays (the best one in my view).

And that sentence that Sabah just highlighted - I found it to be inked on the skin of life.... pure genius, Seemita.


message 19: by Dolors (last edited Jan 20, 2016 10:13PM) (new)

Dolors Helle wrote: "worshipping can be a way of directing one's energy in a positive direction, and that will be individual."

I heartily agree with that interpretation Helle (I will always applaud positive attitudes towards life), but it also makes me wonder about DFW's intention when he delivered this conference to probably self-conscious and insecure teenagers. For in the quoted excerpt, I detect a note of caution in the act of worshipping that relate to the tendency we human beings have to idealize the object of our adoration while expecting it to fill the existential void, the need to feel special, comforted or validated so inherent in our weak natures. DFW must have pondered long and hard on these issues and this interesting discussion has whetted my appetite to read the whole text. Thank you guys for all the great insights!


message 20: by Sumati (new) - added it

Sumati .......is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.
So true!! So very true!!


Seemita Sabah wrote: ", I checked the entire text and found it to be inked on the skin of life; so dense and clear.

Seemita, your vision is free of impediments, obstructions or hindrance and as such you have provided w..."


My dear Sabah, you will spoil me with your velvet words :) Thank you again, for reading my comments too, with such infectious earnestness. You make this morning, darn good!


Seemita Helle wrote: "Actually, Seemita, mine appears to have been a mix of a few essays from Consider the Lobster and most from the one called A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again - simply named after one of the ..."

Thanks, Helle. I located the book; guess there are essays overlapping in these two collections. So, I presume it not to be entirely a bad proposition to read the copy I have. And here's hoping we cross our paths for IJ too :)

And my dear Helle, you joining the chorus set by Sabah makes me blush a whole lot, and then smile a smile that comes by the knowledge of having friends as blessings :) Thank you.


Seemita Dolors wrote: "For in the quoted excerpt, I detect a note of caution in the act of worshipping that relate to the tendency we human beings have to idealize the object of our adoration while expecting it to fill the existential void, the need to feel special, comforted or validated so inherent in our weak natures.."

Spot on, D! In here, I do suspect him being wary of endorsing conventions in their existing states and thereby, taking this opportunity to enforce a direction of 'thinking before adopting' diktat. He certainly comes across as an individual, in this text at least, who (mostly) does walk this talk. And like you, my appetite is also whetted to sample more of this works! :) Thanks for your forever acute observations!


Seemita Sumati wrote: ".......is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.
So true!! So very true!!"


Indeed! Thank for reading, Sumati; glad the excerpt caught your sharp notice :)


message 25: by Warwick (new)

Warwick I must say I don't think I agree with the quote you've highlighted, and I am one of those people who find DFW's knowing tone rather grating – but I do think there's something quite beautiful about this speech and I can see why many people love it. There are some good recordings of him reading it all on YOuTube, I think that's where I first heard it.


Seemita Warwick wrote: "I must say I don't think I agree with the quote you've highlighted, and I am one of those people who find DFW's knowing tone rather grating – but I do think there's something quite beautiful about ..."

Thanks for your comment, Warwick. I understand thoughts resonate differently with different people which is quite normal and interesting since in the absence of that phenomenon, no discussions would ever progress. And as far as DFW's knowing tone is concerned, I would refrain from taking any call right now since I haven't read him well enough and thus, not qualified to make a serious comment. This speech, of course, is very beautiful and it did make some very pertinent points about life.


message 27: by Warwick (new)

Warwick I was on my phone earlier so couldn't link to it – but this is the version I was thinking of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCsvJ...

It's done really nicely, using DFW's voice and adding a little film around it.


Seemita Warwick wrote: "I was on my phone earlier so couldn't link to it – but this is the version I was thinking of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCsvJ...

It's done really nicely, using DFW's voice and adding a li..."


Thank you for sharing the link. I guess the later parts really come alive.


message 29: by Elyse (new) - added it

Elyse Walters Beautiful! :)


message 30: by Florencia (new) - added it

Florencia I've struggled quite a bit with my first DFW, but if I ever find the courage to try again, I will come here to thank you :) because that excerpt you shared with us left me rather intrigued. Whether people agree with or not, that's another matter. But it certainly leaves a reader thinking about it, not only because of its thought-provoking nature, but the simplicity of his writing. The best way to express complex and perhaps life-changing notions.


message 31: by Cheryl (new) - added it

Cheryl Compassionate life - love the idea. And what better review for this book, than one so beautifully succinct as yours, Simi? :)


message 32: by Deea (new)

Deea Reading David Foster Wallace is also on my list...so i was very glad to find your insights on one of his books here. Thank you for posting your rhoughts on it. I will be definitely be reading the Infinite Jest sometimes in the future.


Seemita Elyse wrote: "Beautiful! :)"

Thanks, dear Elyse! This speech is, especially, for you :)


Seemita Florencia wrote: "But it certainly leaves a reader thinking about it, not only because of its thought-provoking nature, but the simplicity of his writing. The best way to express complex and perhaps life-changing notions. "

Well-said, Flor! I endorse that completely; perhaps one of the reasons why we have come to love D so much. DFW can be daunting I assume; I have read reactions of few of my friends and The mixed bag can be reason enough to approach him with a certain caution. But I am thinking of reading his essays before embarking on his fictional quests. Let's see how that unfolds. And my dear, I hope you do come back and thank me, for what better pleasure can besiege a reader than finding a new author who resonates and talks to us clear? :)


Seemita Cheryl wrote: "Compassionate life - love the idea. And what better review for this book, than one so beautifully succinct as yours, Simi? :)"

Ah! Thank you, my dear Cheryl! :) I am so glad you have added this to your TBR Pile. It's a wonderful idea indeed; the text has a certain delightfully persuasive nature that may well percolate into one's thinking veins. I would look forward to your thoughts!


Seemita Deea wrote: "Reading David Foster Wallace is also on my list...so i was very glad to find your insights on one of his books here. Thank you for posting your rhoughts on it. I will be definitely be reading the I..."

Pleased to bring a positive nudge of DFW's oeuvre towards you, Deea! :) Like you, I, too, am keen to sample his writings since this way or that, a widely read author definitely needs to be assessed in our individual reading sojourns for a place. I hope you have a good experience reading him.


message 37: by Srividya (new)

Srividya "There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship."

How true! Can I just say that in your case, words worship you, which is why they are so pliable and render themselves so beautiful and unique when you pick up your pen to write!

Wonderful review, Seemita! I have been toying with the idea of reading Wallace and conquering the inimitable IJ, your words have given me hope that some day I might just do that! And maybe the way to IJ starts from here! :)


Seemita Srividya wrote: ""There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship."

How true! Can I just say that in your case, words worship you, which is why they are so ..."


Oh you indulge me royally, Sri! Always :) Thank you so much for reading; that excerpt did mean as much to me too. DFW is certainly on the cards and like you, I hope to climb the summit of IJ someday! And yes, this is a wonderful introduction to his thoughts.


message 39: by Vessey (last edited Jan 26, 2016 11:01AM) (new)

Vessey Thank you for this beautiful, succinct review, Seemita. You couldn’t have chosen a better passage to share. I may add this to my review of “An Unnecessary Woman”. I think it’s very relevant and very insightful. I have always thought the same thing, but I could never find the right way to express it. Thank goodness for your and David Foster Wallace’s brilliant eloquence. :)


Seemita Vessy wrote: "Thank you for this beautiful, succinct review, Seemita. You couldn’t have chosen a better passage to share. I may add this to my review of “An Unnecessary Woman”. I think it’s very relevant and ver..."

Very generous of you to attribute the eloquence to me too, Vessy! But I have said nothing more than what DFW has expressed in a very resounding tone. Very thought-provoking indeed. And I can see the hits one can take for being away from GR by way of missed reviews; like the one I have missed of AUW of yours! I will remedy it soon! Thanks a bunch for never ceasing to send a warm shout to lighten up my air, my friend :)


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