Excellence in Essays is a new tag I will use to recommend noteworthy long-form pieces about certain subjects. This inaugural edition has a pretty catch-all title, “Life”, but I think you will find that all the questioning and answering of the three essays below attempts to answer one overarching question: how to live. I have aleady begun the process of curating many more collections – the future, sex, healthcare, technology, fiction, sports, etc – and I hope to put them up pretty frequently.
1.) David Foster Wallace, “This is Water“, Wall Street Journal, 2008 (adapted from Kenyon College Commencement, 2005).
Best commencement address I have ever read (I would highly suggest listening to the full version as well, available in 2 parts on YouTube). DFW offers refreshing honesty and delves into what it really means to be an adult in the modern age.
2.) David Brooks. “What the Science of Human Nature Can Teach Us“, The New Yorker, 2011.
This article is an excerpt from Brooks’s recent book, The Social Animal. Great piece on the importance of the subconscious in our perennial human quest to gain fulfillment. Full of fascinating psychological studies, and told in that typical mild-mannered, optimistic Brooks way that paints the world which we so often view as black and white in soothing pastel colors.
3.) Jonathan Franzen, “Farther Away“, The New Yorker, 2011.
Franzen writes lucidly about loneliness and the suicide of his friend (the writer of #1 above) David Foster Wallace in 2008. His struggles are universally relevant – finding meaning amidst technology and distraction, love amidst friendship and loss.