I’m Late, Again, But I’m Not Sure What For…

So today I’ve been in a completely excellent, and wonderful mood. I’ve been a shiny happy person, bouncing about, making milkshakes for people, taking puppies for walks, going above and beyond for guests at work… All is well with the world. I like that; especially when you feel so good about yourself that you want to be nice to people. I like making people happy, if I can.

I’ve even managed to not eat rubbish, and I’ve been to the gym. I feel like a little superhero. I bought myself a preposterously extravagant new mid-year diary too. I love it, because it is just completely beautiful. The cover feels precious, and I’m one of those people who adores pretty stationary, and filling in the information in the front is quite possibly the most exciting thing, well, ever.

Everyone knows what I mean. The excitement of fresh paper can’t ever be rivaled by digital takeovers, and sometimes you must have a piece of equipment that doesn’t rely on a battery pack, or need an extra charger. Holding onto a physical object is quite comforting, and scribbling things down is satisfying. Ticking things off on a Blackberry simply isn’t as extravagant as scribbling it off with a pretty pen, in a pretty book. There’s a sense of romance surrounding the concept of the diary, and the ability to write in it. It is personal in a way that software is not.

This is of course, the trouble with all this eco-friendly work. There’s no romance in electricity, and there’s no personality in a Microsoft software package. Paper gave us a sense of age, and of character, because we used handwriting, and tucked our favourite photos inside them, and made them ours. OneNote is a fantastic academic program, and there’s no doubt that it has made my filing system much, much more efficient. But a pretty diary is special; it might be materialistic, and I’m sure that the environment objects to my using of a diary. But I cannot ignore such a prominent sense of nostalgia that I associate with beautiful paper, and colourful patterns. It’s a permanent record of a period of your life, and the fact we haven’t got time to write down our trivialities anymore is quite shocking.

Everything is to-go. I am always running about, thinking where I have to be next. We don’t really sit down, and just, well, be there. At least not without thinking about something else. There are a million to do lists tucked away inside my head. And I’m always planning a new project and most of the time I haven’t quite finished the first, which is why I have half a room dedicated to ‘graveyard of projects past’. There’s so much to do, and it seems like there’s so little time.

And I realise it’s terribly trivial, and that diaries do not create time. But seeing those pages spread out before you provides you with a sense of perspective; there is a physicality to when things will be done, and when you will be able to do things. I think that perspective is worth all the money in the world.

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

– Oscar Wilde



On Knowledge, Books, and Post-modernity

We all have something that we collect, something that we cherish; some people collect stamps, others collect antiques; some collect photographs, and some people just collect friends. I collect books; I have a couple of hundred of them, in all shapes and sizes. I love the “new book smell” and I love how they all sit together on my bookshelves, looking out over my room. I like the order, and the consistency; I love that they all, in one way or another, relate together, and are essentially the same. I like the continuity there.

Post-modernity however (I’ve been reading introductions to it all day), would disagree with my “unified” bookshelf; it would create “the other”. It would differentiate between genre, and the time in which it was published. Post-modernity essentially subverts the essence of an object in order to form a critique of itself, making post-modernity a paradox that cannot be unraveled, because the definition of something is the playground of its subversion. “There is nothing outside the text.”- Jacques Derrida.

Trust somebody to make a mess. It's a beautiful example of postmodern art however, by Marcus A. Jansen. This is however not quite the same as post-modernity, which has a broader focus in society and politics.

You see, I like to play with paradoxes, but the challenge I have is that I’m not logically minded; I end up having to make spider maps so I know what I mean, and what I think. The same thing applies for when I’ve read a complex essay. It seems that my brain resembles a computer; sometimes you have to use the disk defragmenter to clean up all those little nuggets of knowledge, otherwise the computer might slow down, heat up, or just outright explode. I often suspect the latter.

I spend an awful lot of time pondering how my lecturers have spent as much time as they have in the research lab; how they’ve understood all these magical things, how they’ve written groundbreaking papers about the forefront of literary criticism. I can barely understand my introductory postmodern research, and I’ve already made six diagrams about Derrida. It is humbling when you realise that you know absolutely nothing at all, in comparison with what they already know. Even they don’t know everything; nobody does, but they know more than most of us ever will do. This is mainly however because it’s their career choice; it’s what they wanted to do. I like that they can inspire you to enjoy a text purely because they’re so passionate about it that they can present you with facets of it that you couldn’t hope to find on your own.

So, back to my beautiful bookshelf. I love the order, and the tidiness of it. I like it’s superficially orderly ways. But what I like the most, and the reason that I will continue to collect them, is that behind that smoke and mirrors facade of order, and logic, is a world that can’t ever be fully dissected. It can be examined and explored hundreds of times, but no one will ever know every secret of every book. And I like that behind this simple exterior, is a rich, decadent world. But what I like the most is that by looking at this world, I will obtain a degree, alongside invaluable skills in analysis, close reading, and research. And I really do enjoy it, too.


(1) http://www.contemporary-art-dialogue.com/image-files/postmodern-art-surreal.jpg


Adventures In Dreamland

I never quite know how to feel about sleep. Which of course is a very strange statement to make, but its true; I never really know how to feel about it. I’m usually caught somewhere between despising it, and adoring it so much that I’d like to maintain it for a very long time. I seem to swing between four, six, or twelve hours sleep. I love to sleep, and this is often my downfall.

If I allowed myself, I’d sleep from midnight until 11am, every day. In fact, I could sleep all day, and then I’d stay up all night, and this is what I did last year. However, I don’t like not seeing even the smallest amount of daylight; waking at 2pm in the winter means you are essentially nocturnal. Getting up at 7am is however, infinitely harder. It’s like you are trying to rebel against the biological want to stay in bed, all day. I read somewhere that adolescents are prone to this, and as you get older, it gets easier to be up early, and to be early. But this is what I’m trying for. In fact, I was doing rather well until two weeks ago, when I went home for a little while, and didn’t need to be up early at the gym everyday. This is my problem; I’m a creature of habit, of routine.

But now, I’m working hard at crawling back into routine. I’ve broken out my Outlook program again, and started planning meals. I did a nice healthy ASDA shop earlier, and looked at ways of making sleep patterns better. I’ve planned my week out with a colour coded schedule. It sounds so completely over-organised, but it seems to be the best way to make me get things done. I can’t abide not doing anything at all, and so scheduling, well, it gives me goals. Some people hate structure, and routine; I adore it. Have goals and achieving them is by far the most satisfying feeling in the world.

And this is just the breakfast nap... (1)

Sleeping however, allows our minds to flow into the deepest recesses of ourselves. It’s amazing when we consider what can happen in dreams. Dreams are always so much better than television; it seems miraculous that we can create imagery and story lines in such depth. And equally it’s scary, because our minds have secrets from themselves. I find psychology interesting but at the same time, I hate the idea of somebody poking about inside minds. We know very little about the brain, in comparison with what we know about other organs. We know all there is to know about the heart; we know how it works, what happens when we change things about it. It seems vaguely dangerous that we can play with the enigma that is the brain, it’s function, and assume what it can do. Like playing with chemicals that have only just been discovered, you can’t know what the reaction can be. Psychology helps people, but I imagine it hinders them sometimes too.

So really, in conclusion, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. I think that’s a good mentality to have. A little of everything, but an excess of nothing. That whole sentence made me feel so old, and so boring. Oscar Wilde would have been thoroughly ashamed.


(1) http://www.deshow.net/d/file/funny/2009-04/funny-baby-506-2.jpg