WRD 104: Composition & Rhetoric II Rotating Header Image

David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon Commencement Speech (2005)


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 at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

Conclusion (22 minutes later)

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.”
“This is water.”

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out.

Transcript (PDF)
Audio (YouTube)

Jon Lovett: 2013 Pitzer College Commencement Keynote — May 18, 2013. (On “bullshit.”)