This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.
David Foster Wallace — Commencement Speech at Kenyon College
I’ve had a hard time being a fan of David Foster Wallace. I mean, I’m supposed to, right? He’s the intellectual’s intellectual. But I have a hard time with his writing, much in the same way I have trouble with theorists in my field. They go on and on and on, never quite reaching their point. They talk in circles about their ideas, and we are to bow down before the alter of this philosophy. Why? Well, because–these are brilliant philosophers (dead white men, most of them).
I can’t. I keep trying to believe that what I read is important, that maybe if I understood it more it would make more sense. It doesn’t. Not only do I not find so much of the theory incomprehensible, but I also find it steeped in a belief system that I don’t hold, don’t follow, and won’t be converted to.
Perhaps this is the real meaning of my college education. It’s to give me the voice to say I don’t like this person’s theories, or that I don’t believe in what this person has to say, and to stick to my guns.
It’s hard sometimes, especially when it seems that everyone around you worships this philosopher or that, and you haven’t bought in. Or maybe, just maybe, I trust my own instincts more than I do people who write to an audience that didn’t include me in the first place.