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David Foster Wallace has died today.
On May 21st, 2005 Wallace had this advice for graduates: 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. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master. This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.
Right now, I’m thinking that by hanging himself, he must have believed that he was ridding himself/theworld of that ‘terrible master,’ and yet I am equally quite sure that this analysis is too easy in the immediate shock and horror of his death. And I am living in the aftermath of his words, his influence, and his insight. So if he was weary, let him rest.