John Waters commencement speech at Rhode Island School of Design (2015)

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Stephen Colbert: Have your own standards (2015)

Good morning. Oh, what a day. What a lovely day. It’s a pleasure to be addressing the Wake Forest graduating Class of 2015. I want to start by thanking the administration and the Trustees for inviting me to speak. I want to thank them for giving me an honorary Doctorate of Humanities. I’m a huge fan of humans. And I have to thank them for this thing around my neck. There’s nothing you want on a chilly day like today than a nice scarf.

I especially want to thank the University president, Nathan O. Hatch, known to you as Nate Dawg, Natty O, the Hatchet, Hatch Adam, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Angel Dust. And I only made a couple of those up.

Of course, we mustn’t forget the parents, who, to get you students to this day, have sacrificed so many things, primarily money. I’m sure there are other things they’ve sacrificed, but I’m gonna guess that money’s the one they bring up most often.

Most importantly, congratulations to you, the Class of 2015. You did it. Читать далее

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Stephen Colbert commencement speech at Wake Forest University (2015)

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Ian McEwan commencement speech at Dickinson College (2015)

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Orhan Pamuk: My Father’s Suitcase (2006)

Two years before his death, my father gave me a small suitcase filled with his writings, manuscripts and notebooks. Assuming his usual joking, mocking air, he told me he wanted me to read them after he was gone, by which he meant after he died.

‘Just take a look,’ he said, looking slightly embarrassed. ‘See if there’s anything inside that you can use. Maybe after I’m gone you can make a selection and publish it.’

We were in my study, surrounded by books. My father was searching for a place to set down the suitcase, wandering back and forth like a man who wished to rid himself of a painful burden. In the end, he deposited it quietly in an unobtrusive corner. It was a shaming moment that neither of us ever forgot, but once it had passed and we had gone back into our usual roles, taking life lightly, our joking, mocking personas took over and we relaxed. We talked as we always did, about the trivial things of everyday life, and Turkey’s neverending political troubles, and my father’s mostly failed business ventures, without feeling too much sorrow. Читать далее

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Tom Hanks: Fear will get the worst of the best of us (2011)

I know many of you were convinced last night at about six o’clock local time the world was going to come to an end. Just because it hasn’t doesn’t mean that it’s not nearby because my appearing today at Yale University is surely one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Today is your day. Please, do not turn off your electronic devices. Leave your iPhone, your iPad, your Sidekicks, your Droids, your blackberries powered up, recording, photographing, texting out all that emerges from this stage over the next few minutes.

Later on today you can compare your tweets and your Facebook comments with those of others to figure out if anything memorable went down. You know what, tweet that last sentence I just said. Take this speech and set it to music and maybe insert some crazy kooky graphics. Star in that video yourself and post on the web and if it becomes a viral sensation you’ll be equal to any cat playing with a paper bag or any set of twin toddlers talking gibberish to each other, as popular as that cute girl that sings about Fridays.

Just one of the possibilities in our brave new world, the world you now inherit whether you’d like it or not. The jig is up. Читать далее

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Gao Xingjian: The Case for Literature (2000)

I have no way of knowing whether it was fate that has pushed me onto this dais but as various lucky coincidences have created this opportunity I may as well call it fate. Putting aside discussion of the existence or non-existence of God, I would like to say that despite my being an atheist I have always shown reverence for the unknowable.

A person cannot be God, certainly not replace God, and rule the world as a Superman; he will only succeed in creating more chaos and make a greater mess of the world. In the century after Nietzsche man-made disasters left the blackest records in the history of humankind. Supermen of all types called leader of the people, head of the nation and commander of the race did not baulk at resorting to various violent means in perpetrating crimes that in no way resemble the ravings of a very egotistic philosopher. However, I do not wish to waste this talk on literature by saying too much about politics and history, what I want to do is to use this opportunity to speak as one writer in the voice of an individual. Читать далее

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Гао Синцзянь: У человечества есть не одна только история, ему также дарована литература (2000)

Не знаю, судьба ли меня занесла на эту трибуну, но я не нахожу другого слова, чтобы сказать о счастливых обстоятельствах, которые этому способствовали. Вопрос о существовании Бога я оставляю в стороне. Когда бы мне ни задали этот вопрос, ответ на который мне неизвестен, каждый раз меня переполняет чувство глубокого уважения, несмотря на то, что я всегда считал себя атеистом.

Человек не может превратиться в божественное существо, не говоря уже о том, что он никогда не сможет заменить самого Господа Бога. Мир, управляемый сверхчеловеком, неизбежно превращается в хаос, в нем происходят все более тяжелые несчастья. В течение столетия, в первом году которого умер Ницше, катастрофы, вызванные людьми, отмечали все более темные страницы в истории человечества. Однако безумные высказывания философа, законченного нарциссиста, никак нельзя сравнить с жестокими поступками, которые сверхлюди разного рода, прославляемые как вожди народа, главы государств, первейшие руководители наций, совершали, нисколько не задумываясь. Я не хочу злоупотреблять вниманием этого литературного форума, понапрасну рассуждая о политике и истории. Мне просто хочется использовать эту возможность, чтобы выразить мнение отдельного писателя и личности. Читать далее

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Neil Gaiman University of the Arts Commencement Speech

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Atul Gawande: Anything is possible in people’s lives (2011)

Thank you, graduates and Ohio University, for this opportunity. I am a 1983 graduate of Athens High School. Which means, yes, you invited a townie to give your graduation address. I grew up here watching you, the students, come and go. Perhaps that should make you wonder whether it was foolish to have asked a townie to speak. I’m not sure, after all, how much you want me telling your parents about what I saw as a teenager on Court Street on Halloween nights.

What I want to talk about, though, is the huge impression you, the students, and this university made upon me. My sister and I were born in New York City. Our family moved to Athens when the two of us still had our baby teeth. And among the enduring beliefs I absorbed growing up here is a core American idea: Anything is possible in people’s lives. No one should be counted out.

It might seem strange to have learned this in a small Appalachian town. Thirty-five percent of Athens County’s population lives in poverty, the worst in the state. Almost half of my classmates never made it to college. Yet everywhere around me was also evidence that ordinary people could have extraordinary strength and contain possibilities no one imagined—even themselves.

Much of the evidence was right in my home. My parents were immigrants from India and they had somehow found it in themselves to swim against the tides of rural deprivation (in the case of my father) and of restrictions and low expectations for girls (in the case of my mother) to become doctors, to find their way to New York, to meet one another there and marry against caste restrictions, and to ultimately become regarded as local leaders here. But our town and Ohio University provided the rest of the evidence. Читать далее

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