David Foster Wallace’s Commencement Address


Recently, I read Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon College commencement speech, though not as a transcription but as the Little, Brown, & Co. book (2009), which features one sentence per page. I enjoyed reading the speech in this format. As I read through it this time, I was drawn to the following passage about narcissism.

Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe, the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness, because it’s so socially repulsive, but it’s pretty much the same for all of us, deep down. It is our default setting, hardwired into our boards at birth.


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