Sunday, March 7, 2010

David Foster Wallace on attention

I’ve gotten in the habit of reading to my students this passage from a 2005 commencement speech:

Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.
It’s more difficult to find this speech online now that it’s been packaged as a book (one sentence per page). But here it is, still standing.

comments: 2

Anonymous said...

Fantastic. I read it twice and then sent it to my daughters who are in university. Thank you so much.
Really enjoy your blog.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks, Melanie. It makes me happy to share things that other people too find worthwhile.