"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Monday, September 15, 2008

David Foster Wallace: Learning How to Think

“Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about, quote, the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.

“This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.”

At the Chicago Tribune. And here.

Here's the full text of the commencement address from which the quote above is taken.



Alicia said...

I read this the night he died. This and his Salon interview and his New Yorker short story, "Good People"

Zen of Writing said...

I read a couple of interviews, too. What a thoughtful intelligent man. It's particularly shocking to me that someone who has what we all want still couldn't enjoy his life -- he was one of our anointed. I know depression is a disease. Shocking, nonetheless.