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Essay on David Foster Wallace This Is Water Summary

There have been many times in human history were empires have crumbled because they lost their way. Whether it is because of corruption in politics, ideological views or religion, society has had its’ share of setbacks. Over time, new civilizations have sprung up out of the ashes of old ones, and sometimes these new civilizations are all the better for it. Today’s society has made the same mistakes, which has cause us to lose our way, and the only way we can truly regain it is to live outside our default setting and show empathy toward others.

In today’s society of stressful jobs and mortgage ayments, people rarely consider their conscious perception of others; this is what Wallace (2010) refers to as our “natural default-setting” (p. 2). Human emotions such as love, compassion, and our sense of unity all seem to fade away into darkness.. this is our “default setting. ” We have the option to see things in a different light, but in order to do that we have to realize that there are other options. According to Wallace (2010), “But if you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options” (p. 6).

If people would stop long enough to think about their situation, and pay ttention to what is going on around them instead of just being stuck in their part of the rat maze we call life, then they would be able to clearly see that other options exist. This would truly help people live a more fulfilling life with meaning and purpose, instead of just being frustrated or angry all the time, and just existing by trying to get through their day to day lives. According to Luck (2015), “Foster Wallace’s point with these lines is that changing a person’s perspective and attitude on other around them can have a huge difference in their life.

This perception of Wallace’s “default setting” extends beyond the realm of everyday people, and into the life of Ender Wiggin in “Ender’s Game. ” In the book “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card, the main character Ender Wiggin is faced with being the earth’s last hope of destroying the “buggers” who are an alien race of insects who tried to invade earth but failed. Ender is groomed to set aside emotion and his perception of everyone. It seems as if Ender has to revert to his “default setting” in order to survive his training. “He could not cry. There was no chance that he would be treated with compassion.

Dap was not Mother. Any sign of weakness would tell the Stilsons and Peters that this boy could be broken” (Card, 1991, p. 35). For Ender showing weakness or emotion during training in the battle group would only cause him more problems, making it difficult for him to get through training and live up to the expectations of this great tactician he was born for. It seems as though for Ender his only solution is mold his mind to his “default setting” for now. Once Ender is actually in control of the I. F invasion fleet, Ender starts to wear down physically and mentally.

During the final phase of his raining when Ender is actually controlling the invading force, and after he realizes that it was not a simulation but the real thing, Ender portrays hatred for what he was tricked into doing. “Butterfield is at his strongest here, and in his last confrontation with Graff, his rage and dismay are palpable” (Reiter, 2013). This idea of breaking loose from our “default setting” is to better ourselves and to better understand others and the world around us. In “This is Water”, Wallace maintained an idea that people needed to be more empathetic in how they viewed other people.

Wallace wants people to stray away from their “default setting” and realize that there is more to people than what is seen on the surface. People need to understand that even though they may be having a rough day, that the person in line at the grocery store in front of them may be having a significantly worse day. Wallace said, “But if you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options” (Wallace & Kenyon College, 2010, p. 6). If people would stop being so self-absorbed with their own boredom and despair then they would realize that their reality is not as errible then they might think.

People would be able to see that there are always people who are going through something worse than you are, and that there are always other options for you out there, you just have to look harder. If everybody showed a tiny bit more compassion and empathy toward others, then the world would be an all-around better place to live. Violence, crime, stealing and selfishness would decrease; with acts of compassion being more common place throughout the world. Wallace’s theories based on the idea of treating others with more compassion, and being empathetic is great, ut unfortunately the I.

F does not feel the same way. Toward the end of the book, Ender starts to realize more and more that maybe the Formics are no longer a threat to humanity. Nevertheless I. F wants them destroyed before they can strike again, which is why they are invading their home planet. Ender’s empathy and compassion for the buggers makes it possible for him to mend his mistake for destroying their race by helping them to start over. “And always Ender carried with him a dry white cocoon, looking for the world where the hive-queen could awaken and thrive in peace” (Card, 1991, p. 0).

This gesture of empathy and compassion teaches us that whether or not we make a mistake, it is never too late make up for it. Ender’s gesture shows us that if we empathize and show compassion towards others then we could make up for things we have done wrong, and little by little we can reclaim our humanity and make the world a better place. After reading “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace and truly understand his message, I feel his message was significantly superior. His message is to not fall into your default setting and worship things other than truth.

These things will inevitably turn you into a materialistic, power- hungry asshole who thinks the world revolves around them. According to Wallace (2010), that in order to not continue to fall into your “default setting” then you have to be truthful. “The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness” (Wallace & Kenyon College, 2010, p. 7). In the grand scheme of each person’s life the truth is more important than anything else. Falling back into your “default setting” ensures that people will always worry about themselves over everyone else, which will enable this pattern of selfishness in he world to continue.

This is the contributing factor to the fundamental downfall of today’s society. Sometimes after a civilization has been around long enough, revolution can be a healthy thing. This helps new civilizations to flourish like a phoenix from the ashes of the old one. Our young society is in jeopardy of failure if we do not do something about it immediately. In order to find our way back we need to stop living in our default setting and start showing more empathy to our fellow man. The best time to do it is now because tomorrow is too late.

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