I was just reading David Foster Wallace’s key note speech for Kenyon College, ‘This is Water.’ Brilliant piece, and boils down a lot of metaphysical teachings into a very concrete principle, that erases much of the wavy, other-worldliness that the other esoteric pieces imbue: that what you think matters, and taking yourself out of your self-centeredness is very hard to do as it is hard-wired into us, and nurtured by our social society. And not only that, but we have a choice of what to think – it is not up to society, to Facebook, to memes, to traffic, to networking chitter-chatter to dictate what we think. He cautions against getting lost in the inner monologues, the universe of me, me, ME – because there, there is no choice of thought, it is only of the self, and there is no other self or concept more important.
It is imperative that we excuse ourselves out of the dreary transcript that this self causes, we need to push past and open up. When we rule over our tiny human skull kingdom, we rule supreme and righteous, but to whose benefit? Only our own, and it eats us alive. We cannot serve these other interests – material wealth, personal power, possession, our own fame and importance. We have to see beyond the veil of self and into the wilderness. See into the black, bow down and know nothing, because there is where the adventure and true heart of the story lies.
I really think I should read Infinite Jest; a large book has never deterred me in the past. However, it is DFW’s persnickety and over-conscious wit that turns me off from his writing. (Ironically, my husband accuses me of being a hypocrite here!) The over-analyzing fatigue. It is brilliant, yes I agree, but writing like this often tears me down and makes me weary of thinking in the first place. The same way I was turned away from reading works by Ken Wilbur. Their reasoning and logic seem tied to them in integral ways, and they come off as touchy, self-involved intellectuals – the like of which I have met many times (and count some of them as dear friends). Sometimes I can push past the over-conscious wit, but with great conscious effort. I often un-insert myself from these conversations or discussions, as it feels to me that most of the time the people talking are more interested in the winding process of reason and logic and intellect than they are of the real conclusion or heart of any query.
I often view the active discussers engaging in these conversations to believe that the sake of argument is what really matters. That the questions themselves have more power, and the more subtle and subversive the question the higher the intellect. And on and on. I usually duck out if I find my way into one of these. Perhaps I join in the fun and add some witty comments of my own if I’m feeling energized, but I rarely take them seriously. They might get to where I want to go and I might see and hear a lot of sights along the way, yet the feeling of the conversation is adversarial – and to me, there is no “victor” as they surmise: only the thought reigns supreme. If I can discuss these weighty issues with others who do not delight in hearing their own self-talk, then I revel in it!