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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"You have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone."
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May 26 2013

"You have a responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself" - Joss Whedon's Wesleyan speech. provide a transcript of Joss' commencement speech from earlier today. ETA: a video can be found here. Joss also received an honorary doctorate.

Good speech.
I'd love to read what Jane Espenson had to say when she did the commencement speech for the linguistics programme at UC Berkeley:

Wonderful. That's three Whedon-related commencement speeches in the same month that we know of.
I didn't realise it was been broadcast online earlier. Maybe a video will turn up soon.
Anyone know what he's up to for the rest of the day? I'm not that far from Wesleyan. :-)
Good speech.
In the online video stream he turned into a snake and ate everybody.
And I keep hearing that Joss Whedon and the topic of death is passé...
gossi major props for that! On Joss's commencement speech, well, I wish I'd heard something like that.
It's a very good inspiring speech, with some subtle digs along the way.
Someone should put all his speeches and stuff together and make it into a book or wallpaper.
I started watching Buffy when I was 14, now I am 22 and a HUGE part why I am what I am now is because I went and learned from Whedons philosophy, didn't just flick trough the wisdom but really took it in me. Through that I also got interested in humanism, existentialism, metaphysics, feminism, psychology and loads of other stuff that I would've shrugged off easily if it weren't for the richness in his work. The more I learned about the origins where his shows came from the more I got it and me.

I hope there's a stream somewhere 'cos he is also a fun performer and I wanna see how funny he can make that speech just by being.
I was imagining the speech with his cadence (thanks to the copious ellipses and punctuation in the transcript, not a difficult task) and boy was it good.
The images alone are priceless - as is the address itself, of course.
Quite wonderful - hard-won knowledge, most of it, and useful and beautiful.

Three points jumped out at me - they really resonated. Of course, they're all connected.

"To accept duality is to earn identity, and identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is not just 'who you are,' it is a process that you must be active in."


"This connection is part of contradiction. It is the tension I was talking about. Because tension isn’t about two opposite points, it’s about the line being stretched in between them. And we need to acknowledge and honor that tension and the connection that that tension is a part of. Our connection, not just to the people we love, but to everybody, including people we can’t stand and wish weren’t around."

and finally this:

"...don’t just be yourself, be all of your selves."

Oh, hells, yes, that's really the trick. There's always another one popping up as fast as you can acknowledge another. And the more you can connect to those others, those "shadow" parts - those people and aspects you don't think you like - the more you can pull that projection into yourself and become bigger, and richer: more selves to your "self".

Thanks, Joss. It's... embiggening. ; ]
The mulch line got me. His simple, humorous way of saying the obvious is just wonderful.
“You are all going to die.”
Wait, what?
Not you, b!X - he just meant the other people, the not-you people.
Now that he is Dr. Whedon he can diagnose that death we're all going to do.
A lot of clever words and sentences. Wow. Wanted to say something clever, that's the only thing that came out. Amazing speech.
I was up on Foss Hill with alumni and undergrads listening to the speech live. It was well received with much laughter, despite the cold blustery wind, and the three previous days of rain that had somewhat dampened the festivities. Wesleyan usually posts video of all of the Commencement speeches online, so keep checking for it to be posted. There was also a screening of Much Ado two nights before which included an unannounced Q&A. Alas I had other commitments that night at an event, but those who did attend said it was great fun.
Official Wesleyan transcript of the speech:
I sure hope there were instances of graduates aping, sotto voce, the Buffy-Willow exchange about Wilkins giving the whole speech.
“You are all going to die.”
Wait, what?
The One True b!X

Not you, b!X - he just meant the other people, the not-you people.

Wait, who's the "not-you people"?! Oh gosh, we're all going to die, I knew it!!

You two. Joss at his best again.
I get the feeling this is going to be a speech I'll frequently return to for motivation and inspiration. This Joss guy is really good with the words, eh?
I think he should be given a Master of Words degree to go with it. Letters just don't seem enough for him. Perhaps someday he'll get it. Then there's always Sentences left to aspire to.
@apollo11 - LOL
apollo11, the man's got to have earned his Master of Paragraphs by now, right?

[ edited by ManEnoughToAdmitIt on 2013-05-27 17:48 ]
He's a semester and a thesis away from Numbers and Punctuation as I understand things.
And I am so thrilled and proud to say that I was there screaming and laughing with many of the assembled. (Although the parents of the grads looked a little puzzled.) It was depressing and hilarious and incredibly moving. A perfect Commencement speech, and I am so proud that I went to the same college (although a few years earlier).
Dr. Horrible, Dr. Death, Dr. Doom, and Master of Mulch (PhD., MD, DD, MMBS) all rolled into one.
Sorry, but I actually don't love this. Society has developed a real phobia for conflict. So much so that it's become preferable for individuals to preemptively resolve it by assuming all perspectives and internalizing the argument. Now we're saying that this internal contradiction/ambiguity/mess is actually the path to our own identity? Or identities??? Are we truly that repressed/schizophrenic? Sorry, but no. I am myself. I'm not going to glorify agonizing over the road not taken or vainly trying to be all people in my own mind. Be yourself. Own the decisions you've made. What's so wrong with each of us standing for what we stand for and believing in what we believe and agreeing that we'll have honest disagreements? Why must we argue ourselves down in advance of debates to guard against losing, if losing them is truly such a virtuous learning experience? You can talk yourself out of just about anything if you set your mind to it and rolling around in self doubt... it'll be there of its own accord more often than is productive anyway. It doesn't need to be encouraged and it's certainly not what I'd advocate telling a graduating class on how to go about living their lives.
To quote the great Voltaire, Doubt is not a pleasant condition but certainty is absurd.

In my own experience there are two kinds of people to be found on this Earth - those who know that they're crazy and those who think that they aren't, and the secret to living a happy life is keeping an eye on the former while simultaneously keeping as far away as physically possibly from the latter. ;)
Brilliant, Boss.

I have no problem owning all my whoevers, and encouraging and giving them permission to grow and change for the rest of my life. I hope to always be learning. Thanks for being such a constant, true source of inspiration and encouragement in my world. Worlds.
Joss Whedon is first and foremost a writer, so I think he has to internalize all those "roads not taken" or he wouldn't be able to write conflict from a knowledgeable perspective. He is a man with many clear convictions, so I don't think this was an exhortation to be wishy-washy, just to know oneself, and to live despite whatever the heck your body may be doing.
Or to quote Shakespeare, Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.

Shapenew, I like your take on it and certainly don't dispute Joss' convictions. That's just not what the speech itself delivered for me. Oh well.
Or to quote Shakespeare, Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.

Only if you're in the habit of giving in to those fears - ie. not attempting, which based on my ongoing experience in the contemporary culture of students of higher education isn't as big of an issue as I'm sure that it's been in some other times. And after all - fear is just nature's way of making us aware of danger, and if utilized correctly (that is, accepted and internalized) it is one of the greatest tools for survival that we humans have.
I'm not quite clear on what the correct utilization of fear would be as a survival tool if it's disregarded in guiding one's actions towards avoidance - i.e. not attempting. Some mask it better than others, but young or old, educated or not, I can't say I've known many human beings who were plagued with a dearth of self doubt in their lives. It seems to be far more often in excess.

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