A Letter to the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust

On May 22nd, 2013 a single video was removed from the internet. This video had the power to make a positive impact on society and brought the words of a not-previously-well-known author to millions around the world. Words of hope, words of encouragement for those struggling in stressful situations that happen in day to day life. A video called, “This is Water”.

This video that AdWeek said “people can’t stop sharing” was removed because you requested it, and as the trust in charge of his legacy you are entitled to make such a request. But what is the value to your organization to have it removed? You could see it as a bunch of plagiarizers trying to make profit from this great work, as something more likely to be found in the back of a shady van on DVD and not on the computer screens of students, managers, and CEO’s alike. You could see this as more closely in line with theft, or perhaps you’re just upset that this amazing video was made without your permission. Perhaps you think people are less likely to buy any number of the publications that the full commencement address is published in.

The full speech was first published in the 2006 book “The Best American Nonrequired Reading” which retails on Amazon for about twenty dollars. I had never heard of the book until I watched the video and saw that the full address had been published. It has now been happily added to my bookcase alongside some of my favorites like Ivanhoe and The Sound and the Fury. Because people take inspiration, and then take action. People don’t take things just to take them.

This video is an amazing example of how the words of a great man long since past can shake us to our core, can reach out to us like an invisible hand and touch us, hold us up and give us a new way to look at things. It’s that inspiration that he might have wanted to happen at some point. It’s a miracle that in a world filled with one hundred and forty character tweets, filtered photographs of food dishes, and complaints about the opposite sex that the verbose words of a man clearly gifted with something, with an almost mystical way of arranging words, could not just be read, but heard, seen and shared. So powerful the message is that it has circled the globe multiple times, gorgeously packaged in a video, the transcript in an email, the quotes nestled beautifully in place of that other crap that so often floods the internet.

All of this thanks to a video made by fans. I know it’s a difficult decision, but if the words in that video can stop one person from the terrible master the way that no one was able to save him, is that not worth it? You can choose to view this however you want. In his own words “The only capital-T Truth is that you get to decide”

Please, let his words continue to permeate our society, and let his legacy live on. A simple online search uncovered a petition with 551 signatures as of this writing, with more I’m sure to be added soon.

Aspiring Writer and Fan,
Joe Youngblood

One Response to “A Letter to the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust”

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