We're just a million little gods Causing rain storms Turning every good thing to rust
- Arcade Fire
A few days ago, a YouTube user uploaded a live action video built around an abridged version of David Foster Wallace's 2005 address to the graduating class at Kenyon College. The video already has almost 3 million views.
The description explains that the speech "didn't become widely known until 3 years later, after his tragic death. It is, without a doubt, some of the best life advice we've ever come across, and perhaps the most simple and elegant explanation of the real value of education. We made this video...with the hopes that the core message of the speech could reach a wider audience who might not have otherwise been interested."
As I watched, I was profoundly moved. It's clever and well-produced, and Wallace's words are hilarious, intriguing, and wise.
But I was reminded, as I'm sure many viewers were, of something: that the man behind all this great philosophical advice for graduating students eventually took his own life, too young, in despair. I don't think we can (or should) obsess about why he did it, or try and connect it to his ideas. To paraphrase Wallace's own analogy, it's easy to stand in judgment of a person who leaps to their death from a burning building; but only that person and their maker knew the heat of the flames behind them.
But watching the video, and hearing certain key lines, I wondered: can we ignore it either?
If you're a fan of Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, and all the other foot-stomping bands of the folk revival, check out the band Twin Forks, headed up by veteran vocalist Chris Carrabba. Click here to download their free tour EP (which includes "Back To You"). Happy Friday!