15歳で留学開始し、カナダ8年目。 高校、大学を卒業し、現在は幼児教育者としてデイケアで働いています。 次は永住権申請!

哲学的な話: This is Water




今回は English のクラスで読んだスピーチについて紹介したいと思います。私的には今まで読んだ中でもかなりお気に入りなスピーチです。




This is Water

By David Foster Wallace



これは2005年にアメリカの作家、Wallaceによって読まれたKenyon CollegeでのCommencement Speech (卒業スピーチ) です。実は残念なことに、このWallace本人は2008年に自殺してこの世を去っています。


彼の作品をいくつか読みましたが、全てどれも読みやすく、作家としての才能は他の作家が憧れるほど... と言われていた理由がよくわかった気がします。







This is Water









Wallace, David Foster. "Kenyon Commencement Speech." The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006, Houghton Mifflin, 2006, pp. 355-64.





まずWallaceがこのスピーチを通して伝えたいことというのは簡単にまとめてしまうと「意識的に生きることの大切さ」だと思います。つまり「考えるべき対象を選べるようになること」が大事であり、Liberal arts education (教養教育) というのは知識を埋めるためというよりも、私たちがそうやって「自分の頭で考えられるようになる」そのために存在する、と彼は述べています。

"...a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about, quote, 'teaching you how to think'" (355-356).



"...the really significant education in thinking that we're supposed to get in a place like this isn't really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about" (356).







  • 水の中を泳ぐ魚の話



  • 神を信じている人間とそうでない人間の話




"... arrogance, blind certainty, a close-mindedness that's like an imprisonment so complete that the prisoner doesn't even know he's locked up. The point here is that I think this is one part of what the liberal arts mantra of 'teaching me how to think' is really supposed to mean: to be just a little less arrogant, to have some 'critical awarenss' about myself and my certainties..." (357).







”[Self-centredness] is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you've had that you were not at the absolute centre of. The world as you experience it is there in front of you, or behind you, to the left or right of you, on your TV, or your monitor, or whatever. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real" (357).



"Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education, at least in my own case, is that it enables my tendency to overintellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract thinking instead of simply paying attention to what's going on in front of me" (358).



"And I submit that this is really what the real, no-shit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone, day in and day out".... "The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what 'day in, day out' really means. There happen to be whole large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine and petty frustration" (358-359).










"By way of example, let’s say it’s an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging white-collar college-graduate job, and you work hard for nine or ten hours, and at the end of the day you’re tired, and you're stressed out, and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for a couple of hours and then hit the rack early because you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember that there’s no food at home - you haven’t had time to shop this week because of your challenging job - and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It’s the end of the workday, and the traffic's very bad, so getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it’s the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping, and the store's hideously, flurescently lit, and infused with soul-killing Muzak or corporate pop, and it’s pretty much the last place you want to be, but you can’t just get in and quickly go out: you have to wander all over the huge, overlit store’s crowded aisles to find the stuff you want, and you have to manoeuver your junk cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts, [...] and eventually, finally, you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren’t enough checkout lanes open even though it’s the end-of-the-day rush, so the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating, but you can’t take your fury out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college..." (359-360).









"...many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. Except that's not the point. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing comes in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm going to be pissed and miserable every time I have to food-shop, because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me, about my hungriness and my fatigue and my desire to just get home, and it's going to seem, for all the world, like everybody else is just in my way, and who the fuck are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line, and look at how deeply and personally unfair this is: I've worked really hard all day and I'm starved and tired and I can't even get home to eat and unwind because of all these stupid goddamn people" (360).











"The thing is that there are obviously different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stuck and idling in my way: it's not impossible that some of these people in SUVs have been in horrible auto accidents in the past and now find driving so traumatic that their therapists have all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive; or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he's trying to rush to the hospital, and he's in a way bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am - it is actually I who am in his way" (361).



"... if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyes, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her klittle child in the checkout line - maybe she's not usually like this; maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of her husband who's dying of bone cancer, or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a nightmarish red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible - it just depends what you want to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important - if you want to operate on your default setting - then you, like me, probably will not consider possibilities that aren't pointless and annoying. But if you've really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars - compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mysterical stuff's necessarily true: the only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it" (361).






"It is about the real value of a real education, which has nothing to do with grades or degrees and everything to do with simple awareness - awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: 'This is water, this is water; these Eskimos might be much more than they seem'" (363-364).




”It is unimaginably hard to do this - to live consciously, adultly, day in and day out. Which means yet another cliché is true: your education really is the job of a lifetime, and it commences - now” (364).