Can't Not Say Something


It seemed kind of weird to have that damn picture of skulls at the top of the page on a day when I'm probably getting more visits than I have in years, all due to hosting David Foster Wallace's commencement speech, which people are reading in a new way today as news of his suicide spreads.

I've read many heartfelt and beautiful remembrances today, and it's a shame that his ability to so precisely articulate the weird pain and loneliness that being wrapped up in your skull can bring, did not, in the end, give him freedom from that anguish. This passage -- from an essay on Kakfa -- has been richocheting around my brain today:

[T]he horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home. ... [E]nvision us approaching and pounding on this door, increasingly hard, pounding and pounding, not just wanting admission but needing it; we don't know what it is but we can feel it, this total desperation to enter, pounding and ramming and kicking. That, finally, the door opens...and it opens outward -- we've been inside what we wanted all along. Das ist komisch.

Goodbye Dave, and thanks.


Thanks for posting the commencement speech. Absolutely amazing, important stuff. Embarrassingly, and sadly, I hadn't heard of David Foster Wallace before I saw the yahoo news item about his suicide. I will be sure to read more of his work now.

I noticed it's been almost two years since you wrote a blog. Hopefully you'll start up again. Great sentiments on Cambodia and Thailand, two of my favorite places on earth.

Thanks for hosting the commencement address. Much appreciated.

Thanks for hosting the commencement address. Much appreciated.

I've linked to his commencement speech so many times in the last couple of years. Thank you for hosting such great words.

I've printed out and read this commencement speech so many times. Thanks for posting it and letting me pass it on to so many others who need to hear it.

His essay on a visit to the Illinois State Fair was one of the funniest, greatest things I've ever read.


I'm sending more people your way. Thank you for posting this, it was important for me to read.

Hey Bill, thank you for the pointer... I'm in the same boat as your first commenter Matt. Eye opening, and sad.

Wow. Thanks so much for hosting this. And the other things you've written yourself are quite interesting. Do keep writing! I'll be BACK! ;-)

Wow. Thanks so much for hosting this. And the other things you've written yourself are quite interesting. Do keep writing! I'll be BACK! ;-)

Thanks for posting that commencement speech. It is very powerful. I had never read any of Wallace's stuff.

I do remember so long ago (right after he wrote Infinite Jest) he was on the Charlie Rose show or something and I watched the whole interview. Wallace was very compelling.

I didn't read any of his works then, but after reading that speech you can be sure I'll check him out now.

Thanks again,

You are being featured on Five Star Friday:

Thanks for posting the commencement speech. The Wall Street Journal printed one that is "Adapted" from his speech, and (apparently) added in this thing at the end about making it to 50 without shooting oneself, which I really thought was terribly crass given the circumstances. How ugly!

So I'm really glad to have found the actual speech. Thank you.

Even though I didn't know much about Mr.Wallace his speech reached out to me in many ways.His words gave me an image of what he was saying and his opening introduction made me see that he was a good person.

we quoted a few lines from the commencement speech in our blog. we think it's just the best way to pay him tribute.

thank you, david. the infinite jest lives on.


Add mine to the list of thanks and new blog readers. DFW is one of my all-time favorites and, like so many others, I'm so sad to know how much he suffered and will miss his incredible voice. I never knew about this speech but I want to read it to my incoming freshmen...doubt this would be a good idea though.

Much appreciated,

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This page contains a single entry by was published on September 14, 2008 12:00 PM.

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