Default Setting: Cynicism
David Foster Wallace just got right inside my brain. He peered into my soul, my consciousness, and said, “I know you, man. Now I’m gonna pick you apart. Bitch.” I actually feel semi-violated. Everything he had to say in his commencement speech seemed to hit the nail on the head- specifically my nail and my head. And that’s exactly what he’s talking about.
It’s hard to argue that we are all, on a deep-level, literally and figuratively self-centered. After all, as Wallace points out, we experience the world through our own point of view. Everything happens to or around us. It is only fitting then that I felt as if he was specifically talking about me when running through our default thought setting, which essentially being a no-good, cynical asshole. Many people will find their own deep-seeded cynicism hard to admit, but since I blog from the heart, and occasionally the balls, I’ll own up to it right here. Wallace’s description of grocery shopping was like a fucking running diary of every Fresh Grocer trip I’ve ever been on. Except instead of sitting in traffic, I have to walk 13 miles back across campus lugging a two-ton bag of milk and eggs while suppressing the urge to punch every dim-witted, bow-legged passerby straight through their obnoxious, borderline insulting face. This just happens to be my default setting.
Hopefully though, I won’t need a liberal arts degree to shake this way of thinking. I already, on occasion, just happen to have such a good day that I don’t let trivial shit bother me or I give people the benefit of the doubt. As Wallace points out though, the real trick is to get into this open mind-set everyday. That’s something I’m going to have to work on.*
*Getting high everyday would probably do the trick, but that would be totally illegal, guys (and really expensive).