David Foster Wallace’s best commencement speech ever

A commencement address with opening paragraphs that would make me want to keep listening.

The opening:

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

If at this moment you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise old fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. 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. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude-but the fact is that, in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have life-or-death importance. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. So let’s get concrete…

You too,  right? Right.

Want to see and hear at the same time? Go here.

As for the best-ever part, try this out.

Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

I hate this “ordinary time” business, but Happy 25th Week anyhow, everyone.

Doesn’t mean we can’t swing to the rhythms of the oldie that is a sample of what the world owes to Holy Scripture, from Ecclesiastes 3:

There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every thing under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
See what I mean about rhythm? Marvelous stuff.
Then the un-prosy explanation:
What advantage has the worker from his toil?
I have considered the task that God has appointed
for the sons of men to be busied about.
He has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts,
without man’s ever discovering,
from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

Life rarely a cabaret, but ever mysterious when you get down to it.

God has put “the timeless” into our hearts. We never do quite understand that.

via Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Does a Rainbow Flag Belong in a Catholic Church?

Rather than a flag for Courage, if there were one:

Surely by now, most everyone has heard of Courage International, a Roman Catholic Apostolate for people who experience same-sex attraction and who strive to uphold the virtue of chastity.

Surely by now, most everyone ought to know that those who have come home to the Church despite having same-sex attractions actually live the truth that the Church is not a place of hate or condemnation.

Surely by now, people have come to recognize that the Church loves all people, regardless of the journey they have taken thus far.

Not surely at all. How would most people know about this organization? Even when the late Chicago Cardinal Francis George invited or allowed Courage to meet at Mundelein seminary, except from me, there was almost no publicity about it.

It’s a touchy subject.

via Crisis Magazine

The essence of freedom: David Foster Wallace on giving a care

From Times Literary Supplement review by Rozalind Dineen:

The artist-addict bromide is not what it once was. It’s easier to imagine a successful young artist in 2018 with a publicist than a habit.

And [writer David Foster] Wallace was, perhaps, the first artist-addict about whom one could not say “but I don’t really care” while still preserving literary credentials.

Caring is an intrinsic part of Wallace’s work and the effect he wished to have: he addresses a community – no longer the loner artist behaving as though he should be maintained through his otherness.

AA was a defining narrative for Wallace as it is for [writer Leslie] Jamison. In “This is Water” he extolled its precepts without naming them:

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and care about other people, and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, everyday”.

He acknowledged that the artist is held up in a net of understanding and revealed all the lines of equivalence between the addict who produces art and the one who does not.

via Story of thirst | Review: The Recovering, by Leslie Jamison