Thursday, October 20, 2005

An amusing time waster (because we all need those...)

From Mel, here are my results on the Oz Politics Blog Australian Politics Test. Apparently I'm closer to the Greens than the Democrats. Mildly inaccurate but amusing nonetheless. Though apparently I have more in common with Family First than the Liberals (or for that matter, the Nationals). Fascinating.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

But wait! I am not in the mood for scholarship at all! No, I want to... Dance. And feel like "a bundle of giddy thoughts and visceral desires". You see, I have not been on holidays for a year and a half. Not because I am actually engaged in a daily regimen that takes my time - no, nothing of the sort. Rather, I have had a monkey on my back in the form of two essays that I did not hand in last year, for which I was not failed, but given "Withheld"s on my record until two months ago. After which, my lecturer informed me that the mark is changeable, if I get the essay in. So have I done it? No. I've been about to for 18 months. And I've seen too many dawns from behind the screen of a computer. And lost my grasp of language! Precious language, the only thing that could preserve me. And I've played computer games. Quoth GB: "I tend to avoid most computer games as I could quite happily play for hours and never get any work done". Yes! This is me! But without the avoidance. (I'm quite certain that the appeal of computer games is the reification of fantasy. But ... I have not the inclination for inflating this thought at the moment.)

And I've felt desire brim up and seen visions of all that I will do once I leave the house and move into the wide horizon. I've imagined Europe, and clubs in the middle of the night, and drunken dancing, and adventures at other such frontiers ... The creation of art, the creation of music ... But it's soon curtains for these visions as I head to bed at 7am and wake up groggily, yet again, in the late afternoon, only to hear the productive day of the rest of the world come to an end. Again.

And the shame! Oh, the shame. And the vicarious living. It's a sin. Only this explains the guilt, a mantle I wear everytime I leave the house.

So... If I dump this whole academic schebang for a year or so, will I
a) feel like I've lost the distinguishing feature of my identity and character? or,
b) not feel free at all, but permanently guilty?

I'm not sure, but I'm sorely tempted to attempt it regardless.

Anyway. I feel I have and will most probably forfeit a good deal of what I hold to be important. Video meliora proboque; deteriora sequor ("I see the good and value it; I follow the bad"), says Ovid - as I found out last night, while churning through 100 pages of a biography of Oscar Wilde. Notably, this strained my neck, but never my patience.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

On never finishing bloody anything

I remember once, during the very brief mid-year holidays in second year, that I – much enamoured of the image I had of the endless leisure time that was to be available to me, now that the dastardly semester was, finally, over – went to the local library and got out about nine books, thinking that I would read them all within a week and a half. They were things that interested me at the time – things I felt that I should be reading, or would like to read. There was Kafka’s The Castle and America; Zizek’s The Ticklish Subject (I don’t believe I’d ever read any Zizek previously); a book on French philosophy in the 20th century; an “Introducing”-type book on Sartre (with cartoons); and, though I can’t remember the title, a book by Henry James, whose Washington Square I very much enjoyed reading in Year 11 – indeed, I often think back upon the time in which I read this, in the last part of the long Summer holidays before the year commenced, as presenting an ‘ideal instance’ of enjoying literature: this was one of the few times that I have given myself freely to the reading of a book, and read without calculating in my mind what percentage of the pages I have consumed so far (though this ideal provides the flavour that the word ‘literature’ bears for me, whenever I think to myself that I am a person who enjoys literature). In any case, it came to me vividly just now, as I opened the pantry hungrily at 5am, sneaking about the dim house whose windows cannot escape dawn, that all I read of this ‘unnamed’ Henry James book was the one-paragraph biography on the first page, but that nevertheless, I was presented with a discrete moment of joy, when I found in this paragraph the phrase: “James had a desultory education”. Desultory? I made the effort and dragged out the dictionary – and to my delight, found that it meant ‘to be always turning from one thing to another, without finishing’. How wonderful, there is a word for it, I thought – and immediately, felt as though I’d pinned a previously uncategorised, never-before isolated part of my character. Desultory.

Even now, I must start reading at least one new book each week. But I very rarely finish any. I use Metcards as bookmarks for this very reason: I need a hoard, a stack of the things, to keep abreast of all the tomes that I am but sixty (or more frequently, twenty) pages into. I enjoy getting a sense of books, reading the blurbs and prefaces. I enjoy beginnings, but rarely reach endings. Also, I am increasingly given to wanton sprees of book buying – a sort of retail therapy. Perhaps I believe, somehow, that if I own the books, that I am one step closer to owning the ideas therein. Accordingly, I came across the insight, or perhaps formulated the hypothesis, not so long ago, that I only fetishise those books (that is, their physical presence, glorying over their existence, their typescript, the thickness of their paper) that I haven’t read.

Finishing asides:

1. I really hate this blog layout. It’s much too neat and compartmentalised.

2. I’ve been reading Proust. Can you tell?

I'm at the computer, and typing this with the same degree of slow, quizzical pondering as Tom Cruise's character displays in Mission Impossible, when attempting to track down on the internet the reference "Job 3:14". Everything that I type is coming out slowly. I'm somewhat surprised that I'm even typing at all - it is one instance of the way in which my actions do not logically seem to correlate with my motivations. My state of mind is really no different now from how it was an hour ago. Yet, an hour ago - as has been the case for days, weeks - I was (I almost cannot write it) playing a computer game. And now I am writing this pseudo-confessional. What has changed?

Ah, but beyond this there isn't really anything to report. Well, nothing that I'd like to report. Not here. (It feels a little like I'm stoned, constantly, of late...)

Goodnight Mr Bond.