What The Hell Is Water?

Akira The Don

What The Hell Is Water? By Akira The Don

Greetings, thanks and congratulations
To Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005

There are these two young fish swimming along
And they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way
Who nods at them and says
“Morning, boys. How’s the water?”
And the two young fish swim on for a bit
And then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes
“What the hell is water?”

What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches
The deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories
The story thing turns out to be one of the better
Less bullsh*tty conventions of the genre
But if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish
Please don’t be
I am not the wise old fish
The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that Are hardest to see and talk about
Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude
But the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence
Banal platitudes can have a life or death importance
Or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning

What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?

Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I’m supposed to talk about your liberal arts education’s meaning
To try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value
Instead of just a material payoff
So let’s talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre
Which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about, quote:
“Teaching you how to think.”
Think

If you’re like me as a student
You’ve never liked hearing this
And you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody
To teach you how to think
Since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think
Think
Think

But I’m going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché
Turns out not to be insulting at all
Because the really significant education in thinking that we’re supposed to get in a place like this
Isn’t really about the capacity to think
But rather about the choice of what to think about
If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing
I’d ask you to think about fish and water
And to bracket for just a few minutes
Your scepticism about the value of the totally obvious

What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?



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