Tag Archives: David Foster Wallace

I Understand Nothing // Emily Wilken

It’s weirdly paradoxical to be in a place where you are aware that you are unaware, yet that is where this class left me. If there’s one common theme that seemed to run through everything we studied as a class and everything I researched on my own, it’s the idea that we are less aware and understand less than we often realize.

During first quarter, we read the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. As someone who had fairly recently become a vegetarian, I was interested to read the book, but also expected that most of it would cover what I already knew. I was wrong. I found much of this book surprising. To me, the most shocking part of Foer’s book was his description of how the animal agriculture industry handles animal waste and how this affects people.

In total, all farmed animals in the U.S. produce 87,000 pounds of waste per second. This 130 times what the human population produces. There is no real regulation on all this animal waste. Most often, it is put into football field-sized pools. It often runs off into water supplies and toxins such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide inevitably evaporate into the air. Children raised near factory farms are twice as likely to develop asthma, while children raised on a typical hog factory farm have an over fifty percent chance of developing asthma. People living near factory farms also have problems with persistent nosebleeds, earaches, chronic diarrhea, and burning in their lungs (Foer 174-176).

16005857314_ea882b615d_k.jpg

Before reading this book, I was aware (to some extent) that factory farming harmed animals and harmed our environment. What I hadn’t considered was how factory farming harms people.

For one of my essays, I explored how our culture tends to respond to the problem of hunger in the U.S. Often, people see food drives as an easy and effective way of responding to the issue. In reality, we are unaware of how inefficient food drives really are at addressing the problem of hunger. While the average person may be able to take a dollar to the store and buy a can of green beans, food banks are able to use $1 to purchase about four meals (often including fresh produce) because of discounted rates they have access to on food (Schilling). We are unaware of how the problem of hunger can best be solved through monetary donations because we want to feel good about ourselves when we donate a few cans.Â

In another essay, I argued that the clothing industry’s sizing system (or lack thereof) harms our self-esteem. Women’s clothing brands often label clothes so that women will fit into smaller than expected sizes. This sets women up to become frustrated, confused and disappointed. While waists of size 8 jeans often vary by three or more inches (Dockterman), women tend to be unaware of this and may tend to blame their own bodies when they can’t find clothes that fit. In addition, studies have shown that women inevitably have to try on a size larger than expected, the negative effect is greater than the positive effect in self-esteem experienced when trying on a size smaller than expected (Aydinoglu; Hoegg).

18301742_1141910845955788_5432780040114364743_n.jpg
Two pairs of American Eagle jeans. The pair in the back is a size 0, while the pair in the front is a size 4 (Bodley).

Perhaps the thing that best drives this point home from this class is something that we looked at within the first week or so: This is Water.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CrOL-ydFMI

David Foster Wallace’s speech makes an important and challenging point that we are often unaware of our own attitudes and biases. Without realizing it, we go through life with a self-centric view, unaware of the perspectives of those around us. To be aware of other’s perspectives, we must do the difficult work of continually paying attention.

Overall, this class made me aware of a few situations and truths that I was not before. I hope that I continue to grow in awareness, especially in awareness of the perspectives of those around me.

anigif_sub-buzz-24053-1480896282-1.gif

I also think that sometimes we know the truth, but we refuse to acknowledge it for whatever reason. Like Foer says, “It’s possible to wake someone from sleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep” (Foer 102). Is there any point to awareness if it doesn’t lead to some kind of change?

Works Cited

Aydinoglu, Nilfer Z. and Aradhna Krishna. “Imagining Thin: Why Vanity Sizing Works.” Journal of Consumer Psychology (Elsevier Science), vol. 22, no. 4, Oct. 2012, pp. 565-572. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2011.12.001.

Bodley, Riley. “In this photo are two of my favorite pairs of jeans…” Facebook, 9 May 2017, http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1141910845955788&set=a.122027494610800.36926.100004106511339&type=3&theater.

Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. Little, Brown & Company, 2013.

Dockterman, Eliana. “One Size Fits None.” Time, vol. 188, no. 10/11, 12 Sept. 2016, pp. 78-84. EBSCOhost, login.libproxy.scu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=117821613&site=eds-live.

Hoegg, JoAndrea, et al. “The Flip Side of Vanity Sizing: How Consumers Respond to and Compensate for Larger Than Expected Clothing Sizes.” Journal of Consumer Psychology (Elsevier Science), vol. 24, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 70-78. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2013.07.003.

Schilling, Erin. “Georgia United Hosts Annual February Food Drive.” The Red & Black [Athens], 7 Feb. 2018, http://www.redandblack.com/athensnews/georgia-united-hosts-annual-february-food-drive/article_34f61954-0bbd-11e8-9991-a790ef8f4fcd.html. Accessed 21 Feb. 2018.

“This Is Water” Full Version-David Foster Wallace Commencement Speech. YouTube, 19 May 2013, youtu.be/8CrOL-ydFMI?t=20m30s.

Advertisements

Don’t Follow Your Dreams // Kade Harmon

Don’t follow your dreams. We have all heard the same celebrities give the same speeches over and over: “Never give up!” “Follow your dreams!” “Nothing is impossible!” I am here to tell you that every famous actor, athlete, and artist that has ever told you this is dead wrong.

Continue reading Don’t Follow Your Dreams // Kade Harmon

Food for Thought // Caley Falcocchia

“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?’”

-David Foster Wallace, “This is Water”

When I walked into my English Critical Thinking and Writing (CTW) class on the first day, I had no idea what to expect.  My professor, Nick Leither, showed the class David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech “This is Water.”  After discussing the speech, Professor Nick switched gears and flicked the screen over to the next slide.  The screen displayed the course overview, reading “Food Porn: Reading Food, Self, & Culture.”  Both intrigued and confused, I left class on that first day with two questions.  First off, how can an english class be entirely dedicated to food?  Also, what the hell is water?  I had no clue what was to come during the two quarters of this class.  

I should first explain that I did not sign up for this class.  Every freshman at Santa Clara University (SCU) is randomly placed into a mandatory CTW class before even arriving to campus.  I was honestly quite displeased when I learned that I had been assigned a 7:30-9:10 PM CTW class.  Convinced that my brain would not be capable of attending class at this time of the day, my naive-self even talked to my advisor to see if I could switch into a different CTW section at a different time.  As you can probably guess, my advisor told me to suck it up, and viola- my “Food Porn” CTW class at 7:30-9:10 PM was here to stay for two quarters.  Although I was first unhappy by my CTW course placement, the class and its material caused me to reflect on my lifestyle and personal values, which which will continue to stick with me- not only for the remainder of my college experience- but for the rest of my life.  

Continue reading Food for Thought // Caley Falcocchia

Wake Up and Smell the Roses (Even If There are Some Thorns)//Aria Berluti

6a00d83455b8de69e200e553b1eab38834-800wi

The summer before coming to Santa Clara University, the school had sent an email to all the freshmen asking us to fill out a questionnaire describing our interests so that they could figure out which critical thinking and writing classes to place us in. The questionnaire read: “are you interested in philosophy? Economics? Science? The environment?” And the list went on. To be honest, when filling it out, I had no idea what I was interested in, so my answers were pretty random. So when I walked into my CTW 1 class on my first day of freshman year, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that the title of the course was “Food Porn,” which I had just discovered an hour before class by checking Camino. Once I arrived, there sat the professor with two books in hand: Slant (written by the professor himself) and Eating Animals, a book about vegetarianism and the meat industry. Oh great, I thought. I should’ve paid more attention to my responses on that questionnaire. Here I was, a meat-eating student from San Francisco who had been listening to the endless arguments for vegetarianism for years and still had no intention of giving up meat. Not only is this professor going to try to convert us all into vegetarians, but he’s also going to try to make us follow the same writing format so that our papers all look the same? Ugh, welcome to freshman English. Needless to say, I left that first day feeling a little salty about this class and wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into. Continue reading Wake Up and Smell the Roses (Even If There are Some Thorns)//Aria Berluti

FOR THE LOVE OF COWS: Thinking More and Caring More // Annie Styles

“If we start thinking about farm animals as sentient creatures, we may have to change the way we live.” – Tracey Stewart, Do Unto Animals (141).

Are you willing to do that?

 


Animals bring indescribable joy and meaning to my life. Everyone knows how important they are to me. I want to go to veterinary school and work with animals, because I want to dedicate part of my life to animal welfare. I love all animals, but I am partial to a few species, including cattle. I love cattle. They are beautiful, breathtaking and downright cool — they have the ability to digest cellulose. Humans cannot do that. That is cool. During my second semester of my senior year of high school, I embarked upon an independent study in which I learned about the cow’s digestive system, particularly how the microbiome of bacteria in the stomach allowed the animal to digest cellulose. The study ended with giving a presentation at my school, open to anyone, explaining the design of the ruminant stomach, the microbes living there, and how grass diets and corn diets affect the stomach. Continue reading FOR THE LOVE OF COWS: Thinking More and Caring More // Annie Styles

Ultimately Change // Lydia Davidson

On my first day of college at Santa Clara University I was a healthy mix of extremely excited, a little anxious, and completely out of my element.  I must’ve checked the campus map (as inconspicuously as possible – no one wants to look like the new kid) at least five times to make sure that I made it to all of my classes.  Continue reading Ultimately Change // Lydia Davidson

Why the Heck am I a Vegetarian? // Jackson Bordelon

I am a vegetarian and I have no idea why. I would like to say that I have some convoluted yet eloquently verbalized answer to how what I eat changes the world for the better, but I don’t. Continue reading Why the Heck am I a Vegetarian? // Jackson Bordelon