This being Commencement Time, I'd like to share this gently dramatized version of David Foster Wallace's 2005 address to the graduates of Kenyon College, in which he makes the argument that when you are dog-tired, stuck in traffic, waiting in the supermarket line, when everything is flat, dull, empty, purposeless, this is where being educated helps. Because you went to college and learned different ways to think about things, you have the muscles. You exercised them at school. You can stand in that supermarket line, surrounded by irritating, equally bored people, and if you want, you can imagine them beautiful or gentle or helpless — even if they're not. You have the choice. Your education gives you the option to see things from several perspectives. You can call it delusional. Or you can call it hope. Or you can call it a form of pain relief from your own pain. Whatever you call it, with it, you are unshackled. That's what a college education can give you, says David — a chance to fly free.
This video was created by the design team at The Glossary, (a "fine purveyor of stimulating videograms") in Los Angeles. You can find them here.
Robert Krulwich is co-host of Radiolab, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning program about ‘big ideas’ now one of public radio’s most popular shows. It is carried on more than 500 radio stations and its podcasts are downloaded over 5 million times each month. He is also the author of the “Curiously Krulwich” blog, featured on National Geographic, where he illustrates hard-to-fathom concepts in science using drawings, cartoons, videos, and more.