03.06.17 | Escaping Our Skull-Sized Kingdom

The focus piece for our next Member Monday (3/6) discussion is a commencement speech delivered to the Kenyon graduating class of 2005 titled "This Is Water." (Pdf, below) The audience was perfect for two reasons. First, the members had just received the benefit of a top-flight education. Second, they knew nothing about the world.

They were taught the purpose of education was learning how to think. A key David Foster Wallace message: no, the key to life is learning what to think about.  Otherwise, one is condemned to a life lived in a default condition. One becomes totally alone, the total center of the universe, hardwired to experience the world as nothing more than communication that has to be filtered through the lens of the self to be real. 

While the theme goes by many names, it gives rise to a host of discussion topics -- all real, immediate, and life- affirming or -denying. To what are you paying attention?

You do worship. If it's to money and things, you'll never have enough. If it's to power, you'll feel weak and afraid. If it's to your body, beauty and sexual allure, you'll die a million deaths as you age. If it's to intellect, you'll afraid of being found a fraud. It's probably the best case for worship of the spirit.  

May we openly share here. Maybe we can thereby escape our own respective skull-sized kingdoms. How would each of us, the product of so many years of life conditioning, answer the question posed by the young fish, "What the hell is water."

Dustin SimantobComment