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The Weight of Water

May 17, 2011 Leave a comment

David Foster Wallace delivered a commencement address in 2005 on the challenges of living an intentional thought life, and rising above the default settings of a me-centered life. “It is unimaginably hard to do this,” he says, “to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out.” I recommend listening to Part 1 and Part 2 on YouTube, though the transcript certainly digs at you just as much. For example:

Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute centre of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centredness because it’s so socially repulsive. But it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth.

In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.

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