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Review: This is Water by David Foster Wallace

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?”
And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

Once upon a time, David Foster Wallace was invited to speak to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College on a subject of his choosing. This book is his speech; perfect to read over a cuppa and a great reminder about self-awareness and the choice of compassion.

In bite-sized morsels, David Foster Wallace gives a lesson in the importance of choosing how to think, and keeping our educated adult brains from a 24/7 autopilot function, from a lifetime of slavery to the unconscious.

It’s short and sweet, but so well-constructed you know David Foster Wallace could have fleshed this out into a full-length novel and you’d want to read it. The man knew what he was talking about, and it’s always interesting to me to see how different authors try to relate the same subject. The concept of self-awareness is hardly new; the benefits of choosing carefully how we respond to our emotions / outside stimuli are known to most, I should think. But everyone who wants to can relay this message differently, and I really enjoyed how David Foster Wallace approached this. Another perspective to consider, and so eloquently conveyed.

Half-hour read, perfect length for a cuppa, what have you got to lose? Stick the kettle on, go get enlightened.


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