Getting out of our Comfort Zone: David Foster Wallace’s “The Depressed Person” and “This is Water”

CREDIT LIVIDFICTION VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

David Foster Wallace is important (I am sorry to be that guy) but who has time for a 1200 page novel that actively tries to not be enjoyable. Join me as we experience the most grim and darkly funny short story I have ever seen and an uplifting commencement address, and think about art that stretches our capacity for empathy, sometimes quite painfully.

"This is Water" - This essay covers subjects including “the difficulty of empathy,” “the importance of being well adjusted,” and “the essential lonesomeness of adult life.” Additionally, Wallace’s speech suggests that the overall purpose of higher education is to be able to consciously choose how to perceive others, think about meaning, and act appropriately in everyday life. He argues that the true freedom acquired through education is the ability to be adjusted, conscious, and sympathetic.

“The Depressed Person” - This story ran in Harper’s back in 1998 and most Wallace aficionados are familiar with it. It follows a depressed person who remains nameless throughout. The first sentence gives you a pretty good idea of the whole thing’s tone: “The depressed person was in terrible and unceasing emotional pain, and the impossibility of sharing or articulating this pain was itself a component of the pain and a contributing factor in its essential horror.”




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Other upcoming Olios


Jan 22

Living Room Salon | Our Struggle with Free Will

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

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Jan 24

Living Room Salon | Tough Poetry in Dark Times

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

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Jan 31

The Dangerous Pleasure of Art

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Blender Workspace

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Feb 1

Feb 2

OlioHouse | Our Stories, Our Bodies: Rape Culture in American History

Taught by Jamie Warren
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

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Feb 6

Olio Seminar | Space, Time, & Work: Understanding Labor

Taught by Lauren Hudson
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

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Feb 8

Rethinking Refugee Trauma and Mental Health

Taught by Kim Nguyen
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Feb 9

OlioHouse | The Love Symposium

Taught by Skye Cleary
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

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Feb 15

Philosophy and Friendship

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Feb 21

Living Room Salon | Music and Environmentalism

Taught by Kristy Barbacane
7 p.m. at Living Room

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Feb 25

What Would Buffy Do? Radical Feminism and the Slayer

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at Neuehouse Madison Sq.

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Feb 28

Into the Mystic: Music & the Moving Image

Taught by Whitney George
7:30 p.m. at Blender Workspace

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May 29

Composing Beauty: Mapplethorpe’s Quest for Perfection

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at BAM Fisher

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