The late David Foster Wallace isn’t — or at least, wasn’t — my vision of a Zen master. He was too quick to write about his flaws, I guess, and too unstinting in his articulate cynicism. Those qualities don’t summon up for me a spiritual teacher, robed and incense-wreathed. But maybe Wallace’s brand of petulance and profanity actually qualifies him for the title, here in the Western world, in the same way that Louis C.K. can surprise you in an obscene comedic torrent with his vulnerability and compassion. The West’s worse qualities may call for just this brand of medicine, fighting fire with fire.
Judge for yourself. Listen to this commencement speech and marvel at his (always) masterful delivery, and especially at the speech’s message. So true, so wise, so practical.