John Green Delivers Commencement Address at Butler University

By Maryann Yin Comment

The Fault in Our Stars author John Green delivered the commencement speech at the graduation ceremony for Butler University’s class of 2013. To read the entire speech, head to Green’s Tumblr page.

Watch the entire speech in the video embedded above (his talk begins at the 1:01:08 mark). Here’s an excerpt:

I would just note that the default assumption is that the point of human life is to be as successful as possible, to acquire lots of fame or glory or money as defined by quantifiable metrics: number of twitter followers, or facebook friends, or dollars in one’s 401k.

This is the hero’s journey, right? The hero starts out with no money and ends up with a lot of it, or starts out an ugly duckling and becomes a beautiful swan, or starts out an awkward girl and becomes a vampire mother, or grows up an orphan living under the staircase and then becomes the wizard who saves the world. We are taught that the hero’s journey is the journey from weakness to strength. But I am here today to tell you that those stories are wrong. The real hero’s journey is the journey from strength to weakness.

Green incorporated many literary references into his speech. That particular section includes a nod to the heroine of Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight Saga and the star of J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series. The later portions of his speech also quotes from a letter penned by novelist William Faulkner and borrows a phrase from poet Walt Whitman.  (via Entertainment Weekly)

In the past, many other authors have delivered commencement addresses.

Last year, Newbery Medal-winning author Neil Gaiman shared some “secret freelancer knowledge” in a speech for the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Back in 2008, Rowling gave her thoughts on “the benefits of failure” to the students of Harvard University. What author would you like to see at a graduation ceremony?