09 November 2010

"... boredom, routine, and petty frustration."

And I submit that this is what the real, no-shit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: How to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone, day in and day out.

I recently read David Foster Wallace's This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life. This is my second time around with the context, being that I believe it was the highlight of The Best American Nonrequired Reading (2006).


I have a love/ hate relationship with DFW's writing. He is challenging for me to read because:
  1. I have a lackluster vocabulary.
  2. In general, I am a slow reader.
  3. I get frustrated with words I do not understand.

Nonetheless, I like a good ol' challenge. The following words appear in This Is Water, and they were a mystery to me before looking up their definitions. Let the mockery begin:

  • ubiquitous: adjective. present, appearing, or found everywhere.
  • The immediate point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.


  • banal: adjective. so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring
  • platitude: noun. a remark or statement, esp. one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.
  • ... in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence banal platitudes can have a life-or-death importance.

  • didactic: adjective. intended to teach, particularly in having moral instruction as an ulterior motive.
  • Here's another didactic little story.

  • simp: noun. a silly or foolish person.
  • The atheist rolls his eyes like the religious guy is a total simp.



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