Ladies, women, girls, females, males, men, and gentlemen; neuters, transgenders, and teachers; administrators, boyfriends, relatives, and impoverished parents: it is my purpose and honor here today to remind you as graphically and personally as I can just how vital and huge and traditional an ingredient boredom is in Western education. Because it was such a memorable presence in the classrooms, the study halls, and even the dormitory rooms you graduates are leaving behind forever today, it is my ceremonial duty to remind you of its enormous power and stultifying dignity. Boredom is the marble from which great and stately occasions like today's are built. So let us together gather here all the boredom we can. Get into it. Really feel the boredom. Go ahead and twitch. Check your watches. Wish you were elsewhere and worry that this speech will never end and will never get to the point. I know I do.
The late, great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges wrote a story about a page in a particular strange old book on which the print never reached that final corner signaling that it was time to turn it. A page that never ended. Critics, English departments, and other literary officials seem to think that this story was an effort at fantasy—a clever fable from a surrealist's hand. But I remember encountering many, many pages exactly like that during my education. I remember books in which I looked at every word in order from left to right, eyeballs descending stripe of words by stripe of words all the way down to the bottom of the page—and comprehended nothing. Got nowhere. Despite all that eyeballing, I would find myself no further along with the wisdom offered than if the page had been Borges's endless one. I might as well have been reading snow.