David Foster Wallace's 100 words on the biggest problem our new Millennium faces:
We're all—especially those of us who are educated and have read a lot and have watched TV critically—in a very self-conscious and sort of worldly and sophisticated time, but also a time when we seem terribly afraid of other people's reactions to us and very desperate to control how people interpret us. Everyone is extremely conscious of manipulating how they come off in the media; they want to structure what they say so that the reader or audience will interpret it in the way that is most favorable to them. What's interesting to me is that this isn't all that new. This was the project of the Sophists in Athens, and this is what Socrates and Plato thought was so completely evil. The Sophists had this idea: Forget this idea of what's true or not—what you want to do is rhetoric; you want to be able to persuade the audience and have the audience think you're smart and cool. And Socrates and Plato, basically their whole idea is, "Bullshit. There is such a thing as truth, and it's not all just how to say what you say so that you get a good job or get laid, or whatever it is people think they want...Look man, we'd probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what's human and magical that still live and glow despite the times' darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it'd find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.
This was originally published in a Rolling Stone interview but I was brought to DFW's words, as such is the nature of any philosophical advice, through a series of serendipitous events and the rabbit hole of our hyperconnected world - an email from a friend that led to a dinner that led to a website that led to a video that led to the quote.
That website was Creative Mornings, a breakfast lecture series for the creative community. That video was founder of Cards Against Humanity Max Temkin's talk at the latest Chicago installment of Creative Mornings. If you are looking for a departure from the beaten path of TED talks, Temkin's talk is a great example of bringing the listener on a journey from one thesis to another. What Temkin's talk is not, and I would argue many of the other videos on Creative Mornings, is a five paragraph essay spoken out loud framed with a thesis and conclusion.