Video Of David Foster Wallace Speech At College Graduation Will Move You To Tears — VIDEO
One of the odd things about The End of the Tour , James Ponsoldt's masterful film about a reporter's days-long interview with David Foster Wallace, is that despite the famed author being the star of the movie, his actual writing is rarely actually seen or heard. The film focuses far more on Wallace's (as played by Jason Segel) friendship with the reporter, David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg), than the works that made him famous, and although the high-quality of his writing is alluded to often, the author doesn't actually read his beloved words aloud. So if you want to watch a video of a David Foster Wallace speech or hear the writer read his work out loud, you're going to have to go elsewhere.
Thankfully, there's a plethora of clips out there of Wallace reciting his own words. If you want to hear him read from his books, there are plenty of videos of that (check out this clip of him reading "Death is Not the End," from 1999's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men), but the video that most fans go to again and again is his commencement speech at Kenyon College. This 2009 talk is perhaps the most famous graduation speech ever given, and its massive legacy includes a book version called This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life, published in 2009. It's well-worth the read, and no matter how familiar you are with Wallace's other work, you're bound to be moved by his thoughts on empathy, creativity, loneliness and more.
As good as the essay form of his speech is, though, the actual video is by far the best. Unfortunately, it's only audio — any actual footage of the speech isn't available on Youtube. But even hearing the author's voice only is enough to move any listener to tears, and paired with the text of the speech, it makes for an incredibly worthwhile 22 minutes. As you digest The End of the Tour and begin to make your way through Wallace's entire bibliography (seriously, do it), check out "This is Water," below. Just be prepared: it's going to make you miss Wallace and his extraordinary mind even more than you already did.
Image: A24 Films