Monthly Archives July 2015

On the Virtues of Uncertainty and Humility: David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon College Commencement Speech

The brilliant and challenging writer David Foster Wallace, gone from the world since his suicide in 2008 at age 46, left behind a critically acclaimed body of work that included short stories, essays, magazine journalism, and three novels. Two of those novels, Infinite Jest (1996) and the posthumously published The Pale King (2012), figure prominently on university reading lists and remain in wide circulation.

But in this digital age, Wallace is likely far better known and more widely seen and heard in his 2005 commencement address at liberal artsy Kenyon College in Ohio, the speech now having been watched hundreds of thousands of times in a variety of iterations on You Tube, and made into a rather remarkable short film (available here).

The speech runs barely over 20 minutes, with its essence boiled down to 10 minutes in the film mentioned above...

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The Abby Wambach Narratives

I was really worried about that Abby Wambach! Thirty-five years old now, holder of two Olympic gold medals, the all-time leading goal scorer in the history of professional soccer, the international women’s soccer player of the year in 2012.

But she’d never won a World Cup championship, and the titanic match against Japan last Sunday was her final shot!

Talk about high stakes!! Millions of people around the world were, as her mother told an L.A. Times reporter, “praying for her.” I wasn’t quite going that far, there being a few more pressing causes on my prayer list. If I had such a prayer list, that is, since I tend not to pray for specific causes or outcomes in this world but rather focus my prayerful attention simply on attending to the people and scenes in front of me in all appropriate concern, awe and gratitude.

In any case, of all the narrative threads weaving their way through the World Cu...

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A Liberal’s July 4th Love Letter to America

All right, you great, big, bawdy, benevolent babe—I know we’ve had our issues.

On this end: war protests, flag burnings, jeering returning soldiers, torched cities, rejection of corporations and the almighty dollar as the true symbol of the republic.

Sitting out the Star Spangled Banner, lampooning every tradition, all those clouds of pungent smoke in the park.

Peace, love and moral mayhem.

On yours: the shameful treatment of Native Americans, blacks, women and gays, ill-advised invasions, coddling dictators, busting the unions and their working people, and at all costs making the world safe for the military-industrial complex.

I had a hard time for the longest time sidling up to you and your flag, given some of the things done under its banner and the dubious company it sometimes kept.

Now: I don’t want to suggest that all is forgotten...

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