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help me track down a story/parable?

There's this little story/parable that I half remember. Can anyone identify the source? It goes something like this: "You know how you drive a fish insane? You pick him up and hold him just above the water, just for a few seconds, until you see a look of surprise on his face, and then you drop him back in. Then he goes up to all his fish friends and says, 'This is water! We're swimming in water! I've seen it!' And all the other fish say, 'Poor fellow. Ever since that accident he's been going on and on about this "water" nonsense.'"

Googling "how to drive fish crazy" mostly turns up fishing websites. The closest thing I've found is a very short variant in a David Foster Wallace speech, but that's not quite it.

Though that speech is very, very good:

But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she's not usually like this. Maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it.

That's very good stuff -- I've never read any of Wallace's stuff before, and I'm putting his novel Infinite Jest on my list of stuff to read. So the effort hasn't been wasted.

But that's not quite the story I'm looking for. So does driving a fish insane by letting them see the water, ring bells for anyone out there?


I know I've heard that story before too. For some reason I suspect it was told around the campfire at a ymca camp years ago, but I haven't a clue if thats true or not.Good luck in your search!!

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