This Is Water

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This Is Water
This Is Water.jpg
First edition hardcover
Author David Foster Wallace
Cover artist Mario J. Pulice
Country United States
Language English
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
Publication date
April 14, 2009
Media type Hardback
Pages 137
ISBN 978-0-316-06822‐2
Preceded by Consider the Lobster
Followed by Fate, Time, and Language

This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life is an essay by David Foster Wallace, first published in book form by Little, Brown and Company in 2009. The text originates from a commencement speech given by Wallace at Kenyon College on May 21, 2005. Before Little, Brown’s publication, a transcript of the speech circulated around the Internet. The essay was also published in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006.[1]

This essay covers subjects including “the difficulty of empathy,” “the importance of being well adjusted,” and “the essential lonesomeness of adult life.”[1] Additionally, Wallace’s speech suggests that the overall purpose of higher education is to be able to consciously choose how to perceive others, think about meaning, and act appropriately in everyday life. He argues that the true freedom acquired through education is the ability to be adjusted, conscious, and sympathetic.[2]

A nine minute video with Wallace's voice of the speech was produced by The Glossary and published on the internet in May 2013.[3] This was subsequently removed from YouTube and Vimeo on May 21, 2013 due to "a copyright claim by David Foster Wallace Literary Trust" after receiving more than 4 million views. However, the full 22 minute long audio of Wallace’s speech may still be found on YouTube.

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