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Home News by Category This is Water The Everlasting Kenyon Speech

The Everlasting Kenyon Speech

Elizabeth Lopatto (previously) contacted me in August last year about Wallace's Kenyon commencement speech to ask if I could help out with some of the back story for how it spread so far and wide online. I was able to put her in touch with Devin Thompson, who transcribed footage he recorded at the event. You can read all about it in her piece for the Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin, Everlasting Speech:

The speech was transcribed at least twice, once by Kaelin Alexander '07, from what he recalls as a VHS tape, and once by Devin Thompson, a Wallace fan and student at the Nazarene University in Mount Vernon who came to Kenyon to hear the address. Alexander was asked to make his transcription by the alumni affairs office for a pamphlet containing the Baccalaureate and Commencement addresses. That wasn't the version at large on the Internet, though. The most widespread version, until the publication of This Is Water , was Thompson's. Thompson had recorded Wallace's delivery of the speech on a Hi-8 camera and made a transcription of it as a favor to Wallace-l, an e-mail list devoted to the author. Unlike Alexander, Thompson included pauses, verbal tics, and extemporaneous remarks such as Wallace's introductory aside-"If anybody feels like perspiring [cough], I'd advise you to go ahead, because I'm sure going to. In fact I'm gonna" (and Thompson here includes Wallace pulling out his bandanna to wipe his face)-and his on-the-fly self-editing ("et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony"). Thompson wore out the tape transcribing the speech, then sent it to Wallace-l in May 2005. The text went wide.

Continue reading here.


Bonus content from Elizabeth Lopatto's blog, amateur hour - Kenyon Article Marginalia.



#1 Devin Thompson 2013-02-21 02:31
Thanks a ton for posting this link.
If I'd had any notion how broadly my transcription of the speech would be disseminated, I would have taken way more time in getting it formatted and spell-checked and such. It's fun, now, and a bit embarrassing, to find out all the places my big wad-of-text ended up being reprinted.
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