'To Life After College'

Top Ten Least Inspiring Things Said by David Foster Wallace in his Commencement Address at Kenyon College on May 21, 2005:

10. “I am not the wise old fish.”

9. “Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life-or-death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.”

8. “I know that this stuff probably doesn’t sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound.”

7. “And I submit that this is what the real, no-bullshit 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.”

6. “One such part involves boredom, routine, and petty frustration.”

5. “Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.”

4. “Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded.”

3. “Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true.”

2. “Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.”

1. “The freedom to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation.”