Danny'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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really liked it

As I came here to post my review of this book, I stumbled onto reviews posted by others. The general perception seemed to be a sense of sadness. Perhaps it's because of what Wallace did ultimately. But I read this speech differently.

I read it as a generous gift delivered by a deeply troubled and pained person of unusual intelligence. And while this is an address to graduates, it seems to me that he speaks, in a way, to try to convince himself too. He says,

"...there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. That is being taught how to think."

Dare I say it, but I think he's talking about existence, and the freedom to love. And to love is to rebel against periods of depression and unhappy listlessness and repetition and pain and absurdity, to care about others and to sacrifice. It's a Sisyphean existence. I subscribe to that. It doesn't depress me at all. The struggle itself is enough to fill a man's heart. I think Camus said that.

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Quotes Danny Liked

David Foster Wallace
“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”
David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life


Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 27, 2009 – Finished Reading
July 28, 2009 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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anieva Yeah, it really does seem to be a gift, this speech. There was great New Yorker article on DFW in March 2009 that I'm reading.

He seemed to want to give the world a sense of hopefulness.


message 2: by Tom LA (new)

Tom LA I agree with you. That speech sounds like DFW conveying a powerful and positive message, but not being 100% convinced of it himself.


message 3: by Tom LA (new)

Tom LA I agree with you. That speech sounds like DFW conveying a powerful and positive message, but not being 100% convinced of it himself.


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