David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon College address, “This Is Water,” is now a great short film. (Video)

David Foster Wallace’s “This Is Water” Speech Is Now a Great Short Film

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
May 8 2013 12:53 PM

DFW’s “This Is Water” Is Now a Great Short Film

You may have read David Foster Wallace’s “This Is Water” speech before, or heard it on tape, or maybe you were even at Kenyon College in 2005 when he gave it. But part of the point of the address is the importance of keeping things in mind: You don’t just need to learn the big lessons the first time, you need to remember them, and then never forget them, even when faced with a whole sea of everyday troubles. And this is hard.

This is why even if you’ve already heard it, read it, and seen it, it’s worth watching Wallace’s speech again, this time in the form of this great new short film from The Glossary and director Matthew Freidell. At first I was skeptical about the short—who needs to add images to words that are already pretty much perfect?—but it does a remarkable job of bringing those words to life, and driving them home with perhaps an even greater emotional wallop. I don’t know what kind of day you’re having, but it may be exactly what you need in your “crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation.”

Forrest Wickman is a Slate senior editor. He writes and edits for Slate’s culture blog, Brow Beat.

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