The Message Of David Foster Wallace In This Is Water
Most people go about their day unconsciously, just trying to get by and start the next and they become frustrated so easily due to others around them causing some sort of delay in their daily tasks. David Foster Wallace gave a speech to college graduates in 2005 titled “This Is Water”. Many say that it’s a timeless piece. Wallace, a creative novelist, and professor from New York is best known for his work that reflects a dense and dark manner. Wallace wrote this speech as advice to the youth on how they can go about life and the way they think and decide. Although the selection was quite complex and slightly difficult to comprehend, it did leave the audience with useful information. Wallace did use a fair amount of figurative language and other types of effective strategies to help get his message across to the readers.
The author uses a quote/pun at the beginning of his speech to better help the audience understand that they often miss the most evident things in life because they find other things that seem more worthy of their attention. As stated in the text, “The immediate point of the fish story is that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.”
The writer’s tone seems to be portrayed as fairly agitated as he describes the annoying situations he finds himself in throughout the day that many can relate to. For example, trips to the grocery store after a long hard day at work. Wallace’s word choices describe the people he encounters, which can also be interpreted as hyperbole. He says, “And look at how repulsive most of them are and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem here in the checkout line.” He uses two advanced words in the speech which were banal platitude and dogma meaning something that’s obvious and a set of principles. Wallace rambles on about the many problems and experiences he and everyone may have.
He also portrays an open-mindedness to the choices he and everyone else could make. He explains that the audience along with the rest of society maintains a certain mindset already programmed within them that the world revolves around them and everyone else is just in the way but, he mentions that it’s possible to change the way they think. As stated in the article, “Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe, the most real, most vivid and important person in existence. It is our default-setting, hardwired into our boards at birth.” and he also states that “ 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 how you construct meaning from experience.”
Wallace includes different types of figurative language, many of which are hyperboles, personification, satire, and even irony. Some hyperboles that are noted in the selection are, “And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.” and “How to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone, day in and day out.” An example of personification that Wallace used is “Think of the old cliche about the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master”.
Overall the speech was very effective to the audience and Wallace’s message was simply advising the reader to not be bothered by the smallest things but just let it roll off like “water”.