After sharing David Foster Wallace’s speech, I looked a bit more into the things he said about the kind of themes he tend to think and write about. One of the really big theme is some kind of cultural addiction to entertainment, and in some sense, the growing feebleness of the mind – especially the part that deals with deeper thinking and autonomy.
We have in some sense, replaced that powerful autonomy that Victor Frankl described about the choice of our response to external environment/circumstances, with a kind of superficial sense of choice: which shampoo to buy, what clothes to wear, the jobs to desire, etc. We become weaker at assessing which politician deserves our vote, which friends deserve more of our attention, what character and values we want to truly establish for ourselves and kids.
The sheer noise and pervasiveness of entertainment, and the values of banal, basic type of stuff that gains our attention comes to dominate our lives. Intellectual domains becomes devolved to just what is considered professional and sophisticated at work, or some kind of aristocratic indulgences. Ordinary lives, which is often much more transcendental than we care to recognise, becomes just ordinary for the lack of exercising that deeper bits of our minds.