A Lot Of People Still Believe I Was Eaten By An Alligator

“The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. (One is unable to notice something because it is always before one’s eyes.) The real foundations of his enquiry do not strike a man at all.” (Wittgenstein)


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2 Responses to “A Lot Of People Still Believe I Was Eaten By An Alligator”

  1. caseymcg Says:

    Reminds me of David Foster Wallace’s heartbreakingly funny and beautiful commencement speech to Kenyon College in 2005. His opening and conclusion:

    “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?’


    [The] real value of a real education . . . has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

    “This is water.”

    “This is water.”

    * * *

    Hey, thanks caseymcg.

    My heart is heavy for Wallace’s ending. It’s difficult to imagine the person who said what you posted above as the same person who took his own life.

    Part of what I’m learning by reading Oliver Sack’s “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat” is how to be grateful for a (relatively) sound mind.

    Commencement speeches are always a little weird. Especially when that old “wear sunscreen” trick is used to say: Hey! You’re not all that special just because you got a degree!

    I’m digressing a little bit here, but what I think the point both Wittgenstein and Wallace (and many other thinkers before; “the forest for the trees” example comes to mind) are making is that there ought to be a balance.

    I put the quotation up because it made me think of someone who (please forgive the Freudian terms, I hate him too, but they’re apt here) is caught either in his superego or his id…but isn’t comfortable in his ego.

    It’s a practice for all of us.

    xx – Holden

  2. caseymcg Says:

    oh, and here’s a link to the speech, fwiw. http://www.marginalia.org/dfw_kenyon_commencement.html

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