Monday, September 19, 2011

This is Water

This is Water, Esslingen, Germany, August 2011,
Nikon D5000, 35mm focal length equiv. 200mm, exposure 1/160 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, with flash
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig. -- Marcus Aurelius 

This weekend I spent some time following-my-nose on the web and stumbled upon this gem.  A commencement address given in 2005 by David Foster Wallace (here is the audio Part 1 and Part 2).  I commend it to your "reflective time".  Update:  here is the complete audio in one place with some highlighting of text.  And perhaps even more interesting if not as complete, is this short video.

It's a message of getting caught by our "default settings," which dictate, for various reasons (genes, instinct, conditioning, culture), the way we see the world.  But of course, like the fish that swim in water, they may see many things, but don't see the water.

It's about cultivating our awareness of just how we operate on the default settings; what I think can be summed up in the phrase "the human condition".  And with that awareness -- that understanding that "this is water" -- we have a chance to see the world in an entirely different light.

We can see beauty where others only see blight,  decay, and ugliness.  We can live with a lightness that allows us to look beyond the mundane.  We can offer love and compassion when others are trapped by selfishness.

Yes, I found it to be a very useful morning of exploration, and self-examination.
There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. 
And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it JC or Allah, bet it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. 
If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. 
Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. ... 
Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. 
Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. 
But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings. -- David Foster Wallace  
Oh, and about the blog.  Yes, well, got a little bit trapped myself by the work-a-day world.  Live and learn, shall we?


Boswell said...

NICE COME BACK! Love the succinctness of the D.F.Wallace quote, and of course the truth of it too.

Steven Crisp said...

Thanks for the visit Boswell.

I can't believe I had not stumbled upon DFW before. I really do love the web.

It can be an incredible time sink, but it also offers up some wonderful insights and connects people that would otherwise likely never meet.