May 10, 2013

David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon commencement speech video


David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement address begins:

(If anybody feels like perspiring [cough], I’d advise you to go ahead, because I’m sure going to. In fact I’m gonna [mumbles while pulling up his gown and taking out a handkerchief from his pocket].)

Here is the excerpt of “This Is Water” (the title that Little, Brown gave the speech when they published it in hardcover) that The Glossary animated and released this week, just in time for commencement season.

It includes rush hour traffic, a miserable-looking grocery line, and a crazy-wheeled shopping cart that pulls to the left. We’ve written about this speech before, and about how Wallace’s suicide changed the way people read his work.

There’s much more in the full speech, and you can read more about the legacy of the speech at the Kenyon Bulletin. You can read more from Wallace in our Last Interview series.


Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.