Monday, April 5, 2010

on my religion

via @CodyBrown Just read David Foster Wallace's Comencement Speech. Holy. Shit. Thanks for the link @joecoscarelli @timsteno

"Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I'm supposed to talk about your liberal arts education's meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let's talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about quote teaching you how to think....the really significant education in thinking that we're supposed to get in a place like this isn't really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about."

"Because here's something else that's weird but true: 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."

"The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.
It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:
"This is water."

In a matter of 4 weeks, I'm scheduled to be a part of my own commencement ceremony for my second M.A.  At 25, up to my ears in formal education, it is my belief that for the most part, a liberal arts masters degree is not about the degree–if you're in it purely for the formal education, you should probably get out.

I will soon have 2 masters degrees, and I'm trying to be a journalist or a writer or something, to which M.A.'s are pretty much useless.  I've always been aware of this–the degrees were purely a side benefit, vessels toward figuring my shit out.  'Cause what's a lost writer, right?  Well, actually, I'd like to believe we're all pretty lost, or else, what would we have to write about.

We were in my car last autumn, and you asked me, what I believed in, if I believed in God.  And I replied, well, I believe in a god, but not any one in particular.  I didn't subscribe to religion, never had.  And I said, you know, I believe everything happens for a reason.  And you said, you weren't so sure, why does everything have to happen for a reason?  What if nothing was connected and things simply just happened, without reason.  And you caught me off guard.  Because up until that point, I had never realized how hard my belief was on that value, how much I needed to believe that everything happens for a reason.  And I simply replied, I have to.

Because if this weren't so, then why do people die, why do good people get terminal illnesses, and the list goes on.

I never subscribed, never subscribed.  But always knew, you know, wars are fought over religion, seems silly, how many people die over religion.  But it's not really religion we're dying over, it's our belief because everyone's got to believe in something right?  Shit gets hard sometimes, sometimes we need something to lean on.

The past year and a half of my life has been a bundle of surreal, and I've met a lot of good people along the way.

Early congrats to the Class of 2010.  (Now we just have to figure out how to pay off those student loans. Steve Jobs?)

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