David Foster Wallace was an award-winning American novelist, short story writer and essayist. Time magazine called his 1996 novel Infinite Jest “one of the best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.”
Wallace was a professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California, and was considered one of the most influential and innovative writers of the time—until he took his own life at the age of 46 in September 2008.
I don’t know what motivated Wallace to give up on life. Only three years earlier, in 2005, he delivered a poignant commencement address to graduating seniors at Kenyon College, urging them to move beyond the self-focused interpretation of reality that is our “default” behavior. Instead, Wallace encouraged the students to “consciously perceive a reality where everyone else is as important as ourselves….”
“This Is Water” is a short film based on that commencement address. If only Wallace had listened to his own advice.