Re: Assignment

1

Steve Jobs and David Foster Wallace gave commencement speeches to the same university in the same year?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:24 PM
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That's not implied by the post.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:29 PM
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Is the post implying that where they gave commencement speeches is such common knowledge that it need not be mentioned or is being interested enough to google an important part of our learning?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:35 PM
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Kenyon College (DFW)

Stanford (SJ)


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:40 PM
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I thought these were common knowledge--maybe not! I certainly see them quoted and mentioned all over the place.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:42 PM
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I knew they gave those specific speeches at those colleges, but I totally thought it was 2006.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:43 PM
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5: no, I had no idea. If I had to venture a guess, I would assume that a lot more of the creative writing majors from Ohio ended up working at Facebook, just because, you know, Jobs would tell grads to aim higher than that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:46 PM
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Oh, now I understand the three sentence-long post. You don't want compare Kenyon to Stanford. Took me a little while.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:47 PM
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I was going to scoff and point out that the latter classes graduated much closer to the recession, but difference-in-difference would account for that, I think.

But even that would only work if the classes in the comparator year had the same, or substantially the same, or no, speakers.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:49 PM
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Honestly I'm not sure I had heard of either commencement speech until this post. Now that I think about it, I might have heard of the DFW one back when it was given. I didn't realize that it was famous enough that people still quote it, though.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:49 PM
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Which one of them told the graduates to wear sunscreen?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:51 PM
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Looks like the prior year had Sandra Day O'Connor and John Snow, respectively.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:51 PM
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Anyway, imagine my embarrassment at wondering where Kenyon College was and finding that that I had spent the majority of my adult life within 150 miles of it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:53 PM
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Most of Jobs' speech was establishing the location of Kenyon College.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:54 PM
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11: Silly, Moby! That was Morrisey.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:55 PM
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I applied to Kenyon, even though my interview there was sort of a comedy routine where the interviewer and I competed to see who could be the most baffled that I was thinking of applying.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:01 PM
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Most of Jobs' speech was establishing the location of Kenyon College.

Apple Maps is notoriously unreliable.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:04 PM
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The DFW speech now has a name--"This is Water" (and a Wikipedia entry). I've seen the checkout line part of it referenced relatively recently.

Another Kenyon commencement that gets cited is grad Bill Watterson's from 1990. So, what's it like in the real world? Well, the food is better, but beyond that, I don't recommend it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:04 PM
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Speaking of Jobs, I bought an iPhone today. I like it so far.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:05 PM
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-t


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:06 PM
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Kenyon's dining hall is gratifyingly Hogwartsesque.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:07 PM
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Wait, what the hell am I thinking? Disregard 20.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:07 PM
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And don't think of a white bear while you're not regarding it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:08 PM
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Saving the world by blogging about it using big words giving memorable commencement speeches.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:11 PM
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Summary of DFW's speech: what you pay attention to is a moral issue.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:11 PM
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I like quite a lot about my new iPhone, but I think I'd rather they'd have kept it at 4 inches. The new one requires two hands and feels like it's going to fall and shatter at any moment. But now there are no good 4 inch phones, even the phones called "mini" are 4.5in. I suppose it was inevitable because over the last year more and more webpages are unusable at the old screen size due to oversized banners and ads.

I'm really happy they've moved back to rounded edges and metal. The original iPhone was just much more pleasant to hold than any of the models until now. Someone should make retro iPhones in the original iPhone casing. I would love to buy a phone with modern innards in an original iPhone shell.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:13 PM
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now I understand the three sentence-long post

It's actually one sentence.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:18 PM
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Writer P.F. Kluge (another grad and later a prof) wrote an engaging little book about Kenyon (and small-college academia:Alma Mater: A College Homecoming. Probably a bit dated now, but a decent read that looked pretty candidly at a year at the college including faculty and administration politics. The chapter on the search to fill an faculty slot in Philosophy was appropriately sobering.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:19 PM
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The Kenyon speech is very famous. I don't know why you would want to compare the Kenyon Class of 2005 to the Kenyon Class of 2004. Was their commencement speaker the previous year Kim Jong Il or something?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:20 PM
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Kenyon's dining hall is gratifyingly Hogwartsesque.

Ruling Muggles University Dining Hall


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:22 PM
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I don't know why you would want to compare the Kenyon Class of 2005 to the Kenyon Class of 2004

Because it's the class most likely to have had a similar experience during college, except for having a different commencement speaker.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:27 PM
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31: If you're reduced to explaining you've lost.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:31 PM
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I lost this thread at comment 1.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:32 PM
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Ogged's later comments the moral equivalent of Wily E. Coyote's churning legs just past the lip of the canyon.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:36 PM
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26.1: Even though they are bigger, I've heard they're bendable. That should make things easier.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:37 PM
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Kenyon College is in the Dallas Fort Worth airport?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:42 PM
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And then there are the confused.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:54 PM
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Looks like the prior year had Sandra Day O'Connor and John Snow, respectively.

John Snow, the guy who found the cholera fountain in London in the 1850s?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 4:18 PM
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Then he discovered the fountain of youth.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 4:20 PM
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27: I was pretty close, okay?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 5:19 PM
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38: Jon Snow, Ned Stark's bastard?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:04 PM
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Or (technically NOT a SPOILER, but actually probably a SPOILER): Jon Snow, Rhaegar Targaryen's bastard?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:06 PM
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The people at the consulting company with that doctor's name must be being driven crazy these days.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:33 PM
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I don't even have a throne or a game or whatever.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:34 PM
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Aye, but you have a tale to tell. And a long night to pass before the sun again lights the road.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:54 PM
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essear knows nothing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:57 PM
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a moist, mild winter is coming


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:16 PM
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Oh my god I had never read that. Being told to follow my heart by a billionaire makes me fairly cross.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:23 PM
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42 is why you shouldn't take decades to publish a series with even a little foreshadowing in it.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:23 PM
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Even a dead billionaire. Shut up, dead billionaire.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:26 PM
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I haven't read the Jobs talk (I expect more "change the world! there are no limits!" stuff), but Wallace's is genuinely a very good commencement speech.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:27 PM
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49: In fairness, most of the strongest clues are in the first book and he surely expected to pay them off within a decade.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:45 PM
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"Shut up, dead billionaire" would make a good meme, with the right image.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:45 PM
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A heartless (dead) billionaire.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:46 PM
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53 let's live billionaires off the hook,


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:48 PM
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I'm not going to start reading the books until winter comes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:48 PM
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Some reflections on the Jobs' talk by Stanford grads 6 years on.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:50 PM
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This Ads Without Products piece on the Wallace speech is well worth a read if you're interested in that speech. It's not exactly a quarrel with or refutation of the speech, as some people in the comments seem to think, but a pretty sharp take on what makes it odd.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:15 PM
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"Shut up, dead billionaire" would make a good meme, with the right image.

"And then I told them to follow their hearts!"


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:28 PM
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The comment by that "ben" fellow is incisive.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:28 PM
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He sure was up and commenting early.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:58 PM
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I thought these were common knowledge--maybe not! I certainly see them quoted and mentioned all over the place.

You have a strange idea of common knowledge. I don't think I know the location or content of any commencement speech by anyone.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 1:26 AM
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I had a nightmare and now I'm wide awake. Where's the late-night show?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 1:59 AM
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I have never heard of Kenyon College, and I have no idea who David Foster Wallace is. I did not attend a university with commencement speeches.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 2:01 AM
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Oh, heebie, you're OK now. Tell us about the dream. Was it the one with the bear that turns out to be Vladimir Ashkenazy again?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 2:06 AM
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It's already pretty fragmented and past the coherent stage, but emotionally was a full fledged fright fest.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 2:14 AM
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I had a nightmare and now I'm wide awake. Where's the late-night show?

Sorry, I'm on vacation and in a different time zone. I am up, though, since I was writing a blog post.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 2:27 AM
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And you had a BIRTHDAY, birthday boy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 2:53 AM
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You have a strange idea of common knowledge.

From the Jezebel link in 57.

Steve Jobs's 2005 Stanford commencement speech was already widely cited before his death -- now that he's died, it's shaping up to be one of the most famous graduation speeches in recent memory, second perhaps to David Foster Wallace's "This Is Water" address at Kenyon.

Ok, people? Ok?

a pretty sharp take on what makes it odd

Hmm, I find that post unsatisfying. Happy to maunder on about it if anyone cares.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 5:23 AM
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So maunder.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 5:35 AM
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Steve Jobs's 2005 Stanford commencement speech was already widely cited before his death -- now that he's died, it's shaping up to be one of the most famous graduation speeches in recent memory, second perhaps to David Foster Wallace's "This Is Water" address at Kenyon.

Well, sure, but that doesn't make it actually famous, let alone common knowledge.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 5:52 AM
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||

You know what feels stupid? Staying up way too late to finish a book that is extremely stupid, so that you can more quickly start a different novel that is likely to be not stupid. I could have stayed up reading the damned not-stupid novel, couldn't I? Bah.

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 5:54 AM
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They're both dead. Spooky.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 5:55 AM
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Sorry. I just made the connection now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 5:56 AM
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It's as if they have enough similarities to make a class but a crucial difference such that comparison of the two would be informative about the general nature of society over the past ten years.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 6:00 AM
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Yeah but let's see the David Foster Watch-ass take the world by storm.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 6:10 AM
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NBC host-person Ann Curry gave a memorable commencement speech at Wheaton College in Massachusetts a few years ago - memorable because she mistakenly spent some time listing famous alums of the other (another?) Wheaton College, in Illinois.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 6:29 AM
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I'll try a few lines of hand waving before the watchers arrive at work:

It's true that DFW's attempt to make real, not least to himself the lives of others using a literary imagination is prone to the overdramatizing fault the critique identifies. This is the limit to what Lionel Trilling called "The Liberal Imagination."

I'm thinking that DFW actually used a religious calculus and sensibility, but felt that was not going to work in this venue for that audience.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 6:29 AM
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58,69. DFW was good with words and ideas, depressed, and isolated. Neither DFW nor the blogger in 59 apparently considers as possible or worthwhile some connection with the world, whether through the less shitty parts of the challenging job, through a connection with family or one with other people who surprise you with kindness or strength or something else positive. A healthy inner orientation is good also, and DFW is kind of taking in that direction, but the post-industrial US isn't a gulag where fantasy and secrecy are generically helpful advice.

The whole idea of giving advice to a crowd, especially a captive audience, is off, maybe that's what put DFW off of saying anything useful.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 6:37 AM
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Neither DFW nor the blogger in 59 apparently considers as possible or worthwhile some connection with the world

Did you mean the blogger in 58?

Anyway, I kind of agree with the Ads Without Products blogger that, as strategies for forging empathy go, "imagine that horrendous worst case scenarios are happening to everyone around you all the time" is a bit questionable.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 6:57 AM
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How about, "Imagine that everybody is awkward and angry around you because you are so sexually alluring that they can't think properly"?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 7:00 AM
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81: Much better.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 7:07 AM
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60 to 80.last.

Before seeing the link in 57 I would have said it's implausible that the Jobs speech could have left any kind of lingering impression on anybody, it's just standard-issue banality. "If I hadn't followed my bliss, think of how ugly the fonts would be!" Who would listen to that speech and think hmm, that's a great point, never really occurred to me but maybe I should give some thought to spending my life doing something I love? I guess the answer is Stanford grads, that's who.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 7:29 AM
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83: Yes. At least the DFW speech had the virtue of being kind of weird. Jobs' address was just bog standard stuff for commencement speeches.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 7:35 AM
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idp got there first! More and more, I think the way to understand Wallace is as a religious writer/thinker. It's not "imagine that everyone else is suffering maximally all the time, and therefore deserves your sympathy," but "recognize that our lot is a shared lot, and misery spares no one."

But I think lw's critique, on the other hand, is spot on. It never occurs to Wallace to crawl out of his own head for a minute. Not even in fantasyland does he think it might make a difference to talk to someone in line.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 7:54 AM
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I feel like not having liked anything I've ever read by Wallace leaves me ill-equipped to contribute. Well, that and some combination of ignorance and inability to count.

But maybe I don't like him because he's a religious writer/thinker! Maybe that would be interesting?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:02 AM
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I liked the cruise ship one. I'm saving the lobster one for something to read if I'm ever in Maine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:04 AM
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I fucking hated the lobster one. Maybe I haven't read the cruise ship one?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:05 AM
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I think the way to understand Wallace is as a religious writer/thinker.

That came through in Infinite Jest, I don't know about his other writings. Infinite Jest and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never do Again are the only things by DFW that I've been able to get into.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:07 AM
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And I've never read Infinite Jest; only his non-fiction. It was years ago, but I remember really liking his essay on growing up playing tennis.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:09 AM
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All the essays in A Supposedly Fun Thing... I thought were great, barring maybe the title essay which was amusing but there wasn't much to it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:11 AM
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Jobs' address was just bog standard stuff for commencement speeches.

It was completely derivative from speeches previously given at Xerox PARC not to mention those given by ex-IBM engineers in garages.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:12 AM
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But when I try to get my garage accredited as a post-secondary education institution, nobody will answer my email.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:15 AM
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We were on the sister ship of the one DFW was on at about the same time, and I found it to be a very strange experience, but not nearly as strange as DFW did. It makes me wonder if, were I a better writer, I could have written something about our trip that turned up the creepy to 11 the way he did.

For example, about the family at our table who chided us for not ordering one of each entree for each of us, taking a few bites, and then putting it aside as they did. ("You're not getting the full experience!") Or perhaps about the bingo night where one woman won every card. Or how the leftover food from the midnight buffets might have been used as chum for sharks, or perhaps fed a small country for a week.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:19 AM
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Infinite Jest had a bunch of hilarious passages, and an underlying despair. DFW seemed pretty interested in the despair, which I didn't think made for good writing. Also good with seeing surfaces, clever, and very good with words.

Nothing against a style of writing that's not hopeful, lots of people do that in a way that I find worthwhile. But DFW's version of despair left me wanting to turn away.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:22 AM
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A more cheerful despair would help.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:23 AM
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it's shaping up to be one of the most famous graduation speeches in recent memory, second perhaps to David Foster Wallace's "This Is Water" address at Kenyon.

Yes, and William the Lion is one of the most famous thirteenth-century Scottish monarchs in history, second perhaps to Alexander III, but that doesn't make him common knowledge either.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:24 AM
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As I've mentioned here before, for someone known for a long novel or two, DFW was really best at short form. Even in the long novels, its the "stories"that work best.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:28 AM
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The only Scottish monarchs I can name (aside from those that were also British monarchs) are Duncan and Macbeth.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:29 AM
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James VI and I gets you the rest of the six-pack.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:30 AM
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I think the way to understand Wallace is as a religious writer/thinker.

My total lack of empathy for the religious mindset, let me show you it.

He makes a move in the commencement address where he says that you're going to believe in something, and it had better be something spiritual, because anything else (money, power, sex) will eat you alive. And, it's not that I necessarily disagree with him on the psychological claims (maybe? I could say that I don't really know that it's inevitable that you're going to 'believe in something' in his sense), but wow do I come to a grinding halt at the idea of 'believing' in something spiritual, doesn't matter particularly what or why, any kind of bullshit will do so long as it gets between you and getting overly attached to other goals.

I realize, after many iterations of this conversation, that to a religiously minded person, what he said doesn't sound like 'something spiritual, any kind of bullshit will do', but that's where I get stuck.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:31 AM
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I didn't like the lobster one, I thought the Federer one was okay but didn't hold a candle to John McPhee's tennis writing, and I found Assholes, Suicide, Footnotes and Shitting fairly repellent.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:34 AM
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My dislike for DFW is linked, in my mind, with my dislike for A Confederacy of Dunces.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:35 AM
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I believe in Crystal Light. Because I believe in me.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:35 AM
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The only Scottish monarchs I can name (aside from those that were also British monarchs) are Duncan and Macbeth.

Robert the Bruce? Mary Queen of Scots?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:35 AM
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104 to 101.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:36 AM
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101. Have you ever tried Swedenborg? Loony, enamored of procedural liberalism, scandinavian, numbered paragraphs.

Particularly good with Enya or Zamfir for background music, and a glass of one of those disgusting Belgian fruit beers.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:39 AM
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LB, am I dreaming or did I share a DFW short story with you and di, I'm thinking sometime in 2007? Left you cold, I think, with its religious inner life of 2 people in a suburban office park.

I can't get into my yahoo mail or flickr account, I've forgotten the password, so I'm on memory.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:43 AM
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Searching my email suggests not -- I've got emails from you in 2007, but no DFW story. Maybe you just sent it to Di?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:46 AM
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107.1: There's a Swedenborg chapel right outside of Harvard yard. Whenever I'm in Cambridge I'm struck by it. It seems like such an odd thing to be there.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:47 AM
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On DFW's short fiction, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men left me totally cold, at least the bits I read. It seemed like a bunch of entries in the "bitter miserable middle class people being all middle class and bitter and miserable" genre.

DFW might well be a talented practitioner of the genre but it's not a genre I have much patience for.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:51 AM
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105: I had heard of them but I didn't know one was a king and thought the other was also a British queen at least briefly.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:57 AM
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That was me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 8:58 AM
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I loved Infinite Jest, to the extent that, when I heard that the editing process had cut out approximately 500 pages of additional material, I found myself hoping that that additional material would someday be published so that I could read it.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 9:01 AM
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Until reading the comments, I thought the OP was saying we should study those classes as a way to compare Jobs to Wallace. Sounds reasonable enough: they're both famous, regarded as visionaries, and dead youngish, but one's a tech billionaire and one's a respectable author. The contrast could be interesting, and while I wouldn't realistically expect noticeable differences, it's not like posts like that should be taken too seriously to begin with.

All of Wallace's work I've read is some essay or article about political campaigning, which I liked well enough, and the first third or so of Infinite Jest. Couldn't be bothered to finish it. Guess I'm too lowbrow.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 9:04 AM
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114: The History of Middle Jest.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 9:08 AM
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114: I'd be curious, but I suspect that it wouldn't provide a more satisfying ending. Instead it would probably be more detailed descriptions of tennis matches.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 9:15 AM
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114: I'd be curious, but I suspect that it wouldn't provide a more satisfying ending. Instead it would probably be more detailed descriptions of tennis matches.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 9:15 AM
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I had heard of them but I didn't know one was a king
Sorry, I should probably have put in a spoiler warning.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 9:17 AM
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117, 118: Maybe, it would be like if they finally released the Complete Unabridged Unfogged Archives and the only difference was that the new edition had all the double and triple postings.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 9:20 AM
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Do what you love is kind of obnoxious for systemic reasons capitalism etc. But "cut your losses" is quite decent advice it seems to me, especially in an insanely expensive US tertiary education context. Come back when you care about it.

It sucks more if you really want to be a lawyer or doctor and binge schooling is institutionally entrenched though.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 9:22 AM
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All of Wallace's work I've read is some essay or article about political campaigning

Am I remembering wrong or was Wallace one of the writers that kind of fell in love with McCain?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 9:28 AM
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one of the writers that kind of fell in love with McCain

Yup.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 9:31 AM
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Infinite Jest blindsided me in college when I was trying to learn to write fiction, to the point that everything I wrote for a couple of years afterward verged embarrassingly on pastiche. Eventually I got more distance, became more aware of the limitations noted upthread and never actually tried to read Oblivion, which I assume is the book that Sifu subtitled in 102. But he's still a presence for me, the depressive polymath wanting to be good and never really figuring it out.

lw brings out the important thing that the blog post I linked was, I think, feeling toward; not that the use of literary imagination is bad in itself, but the assumption that literary imagination is the only tool at hand. The world is out of your control, and hellish, and your only choice is of what sort of citadel to build in the mind. The Stoic method.

The religious sensibility probably has a lot to do with AA, which, from what I know of the biography, gave him a set of tools that kept him alive for an extra twenty years or so.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 9:36 AM
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114: I once read some interview where he explained that among the cut stuff was a pages-long description of the chemistry of toothpaste (he called it "dentifrice," of course), which his editor convinced him was not truly necessary.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 9:44 AM
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one of the writers that kind of fell in love with McCain

Yup.

I would say he was more diagnosing the love, admitting susceptibility to it (and in some sense claiming there's something wrong with you if you weren't susceptible to it), while also being ultimately suspicious of its appropriateness. Something like loving the wrong person for the right reasons:

http://justpaste.it/weaselshrub

the people are cheering not for him so much as for how good it feels to believe him. They're cheering the loosening of a weird sort of knot in the electoral tummy. McCain's résumé and candor, in other words, promise not empathy with voters' pain but relief from it. Because we've been lied to and lied to, and it hurts to be lied to. It's ultimately just about that complicated: it hurts. We learn this at like age four--it's grownups' first explanation to us of why it's bad to lie ("How would you like it if ... ?"). And we keep learning for years, from hard experience, that getting lied to sucks--that it diminishes you, denies you respect for yourself, for the liar, for the world. Especially if the lies are chronic, systemic, if experience seems to teach that everything you're supposed to believe in's really just a game based on lies. Young Voters have been taught well and thoroughly. You may not personally remember Vietnam or Watergate, but it's a good bet you remember "No new taxes" and "Out of the loop" and "No direct knowledge of any impropriety at this time" and "Did not inhale" and "Did not have sex with that Ms. Lewinsky" and etc. etc. It's painful to believe that the would-be "public servants" you're forced to choose between are all phonies whose only real concern is their own care and feeding and who will lie so outrageously and with such a straight face that you know they've just got to believe you're an idiot. So who wouldn't yawn and turn away, trade apathy and cynicism for the hurt of getting treated with contempt? And who wouldn't fall all over themselves for a top politician who actually seemed to talk to you like you were a person, an intelligent adult worthy of respect? A politician who all of a sudden out of nowhere comes on TV as this total long-shot candidate and says that Washington is paralyzed, that everybody there's been bought off, and that the only way to really "return government to the people" as all the other candidates claim they want to do is to outlaw huge unreported political contributions from corporations and lobbies and PACs ... all of which are obvious truths that everybody knows but no recent politician anywhere's had the stones to say. Who wouldn't cheer, hearing stuff like this, especially from a guy we know chose to sit in a dark box for four years instead of violate a Code? Even in AD 2000, who among us is so cynical that he doesn't have some good old corny American hope way down deep in his heart, lying dormant like a spinster's ardor, not dead but just waiting for the right guy to give it to? That John S. McCain III opposed making Martin Luther King's birthday a holiday in Arizona, or that he thinks clear-cut logging is good for America, or that he feels our present gun laws are not clinically insane--this stuff counts for nothing with these Town Hall crowds, all on their feet, cheering their own ability to finally really fucking cheer.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 10:01 AM
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I suspect being a William Langewiesche fan is completely incompatible with liking David Foster Wallace. (I read the cruise ship essay, but to be honest it was perfectly respectable journalism had it been shorter, and with hindsight it was a lot of intellectual megatonnage to devote to snobbery.)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 10:04 AM
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I once read some interview where he explained that among the cut stuff was a pages-long description of the chemistry of toothpaste (he called it "dentifrice," of course), which his editor convinced him was not truly necessary.

Written by DFW in Infinite Jest mode, I would totally read that.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 10:07 AM
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one of the writers that kind of fell in love with McCain

That was a thing?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 10:23 AM
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129: Yeah, it was a little like Biebermania.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 10:26 AM
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129, 130: This was in the 1990s climaxing during the 2000 primary season.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 10:58 AM
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In 2000, McCain seemed infinitely preferable to Bush. It's hard to say whether his election would have Changed Everything, Hart-style. He's certainly as bellicose as they come but he may not have invaded Iraq for no damn reason. He may also have had the decency to lose to Gore by more than a coin toss.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 11:27 AM
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72: Which two novels?

I am currently doing something similar; I got far enough into A Stranger in Olondria that I want to finish it but I am just not taken with it even though I feel I should be.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 12:20 PM
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The Bone Clocks; Inherent Vice


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 12:29 PM
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Which is which?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 12:36 PM
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62: Trivia. Did you know who gave the Harvard Commencement address in 1947? It was sort of important.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 12:43 PM
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110: William James' father was A Swedenborgian.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 12:49 PM
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133 was I.

Thanks, 134. I thought the bad book was probably The Bone Clocks. Friend who also read it enjoyed it but thought the ending was a bit crap (her words) .... I suspect I'll probably read it anyway.

I think I've read my Pynchon for the year with V. Enjoy when you get to the good one and hopefully get some sleep!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 12:59 PM
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The Inherent Vice movie trailer looks kind of awesome, but it could be a total train wreck. Reminds me of the Catch-22 film (which is pretty good, but was a flop at the time). That tone is very hard to pull off.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 2:44 PM
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136: George Marshall, right?

As for DFW, it's clear from his own writing that he wanted to be an American Dostoyevsky, but I think in the end he turned out to be much more like a Vonnegut. He was basically a writer in a not well read genre (postmodern, not sci fi as per Vonnegut) whose persona and writing exuded a lot of humanism and compassion and whose work tends to disproportionately capture the attention of young people ("Millenials" for Wallace, Baby Boomers for old Vonnegut) due to the nature of the times, etc. They also share other similarities, like not being all that well read outside the US (not even the UK) and suffering major depression.

I burned through Wallace's work (including IJ) when I was suffering through a period of heavy depression and it helped me immensely. I would like to reread IJ, but I'm not a college student anymore and don't have all that much time to do it. Alas. The Depressed Person is the only work that actually viscerally reminds me of being depressed when I'm not.


Posted by: Orbis_Terrarum | Link to this comment | 10- 1-14 10:02 AM
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