DFW is dead — long live DFW

David Foster Wallace is dead, reportedly a suicide. Damn. His writing is some of the most powerful stuff I’ve ever read, very frustrating and yet giving and instilling a difference perspective on things.

Here’s a quote from a commencement address that he gave. It’s not really representative of what I’ve read from him, but gives some insight into what mattered to him and what, ultimately, may have done him in.

As I’m sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: 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.

from David Foster Wallace – Commencement speech at Kenyon University