January 13, 2011
Two within a week. Who’d have thought.
The truth is I’m feeling dismal and the novel is starting to absorb all of that truth; it’s starting to breathe.
Updates to the week:
I did something on the list. I gutted part of my room. I would have done it all but I exhausted myself and for anyone who knows what it’s like to live with chronic fatigue/pain, overdoing it is a risk. It was worth it however because I threw out multiple trinkets from a dead past, and I burnt years of notes, diaries and writings. I’ve never experienced something that silent and cathartic before. I’d say crying comes close but that isn’t exactly silent, especially when I sob
I’m pleased I did it because now the room looks and feels airy, neat and reflective; organic. I also got round to stealing that gorgeous wooden table that had been used as a platform to cut wood on. It’s stout and heavy, obviously hand-made, and it has a couple of nicks and hack-marks but they’re charming. The wood is a mix of faded brown and gull-grey. I fell in love as soon as I saw it hauled onto the deck, a freebie from a neighbour, though I forget who. It sits, warm and steady beside my bed, and the room is finally light (although I have other areas to clean out, mainly the wardrobe, but they’re not important right now).
I’ve been wanting to take up yoga for a while but have lacked the confidence, money and stamina to join a group at the gyms in the area (to my disgust earlier this year, I discovered my local leisure centre had axed yoga from its timetable). To my delight, the Chronic Fatigue Clinic gave me a leaflet about a small group held twenty minutes from where I live which was not only accessible and cheaper than a gym but was also run by a teacher who is trained in teaching yoga for people living with M.E. / Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia.
I took a risk and went along. An hour later I’d done very soothing, flowing postures and a bit of chanting, and I felt so relaxed that my smile came naturally, without incentive for once. No persuasions, no materialism, no promises or bribes. This one came from just being calm and happy. I don’t have to say I’ll be going again next week, do I?
I’ll be going next week.
I used to second-guess myself because of uncertainty and a lack of confidence, but recently I’ve been doing it because I’ve been thinking of different possibilities. Something clicked in the past eighteen hours (give or take) that’s made me readjust my perspective on the things I thought to be real. This wouldn’t be such a huge thing if it hadn’t happened last week or the week before that (it’s been happening for a while actually, I’ve merely been ignoring it), and I’d think little of it if last night’s eye-opener hadn’t got personal and exposed the soft, delicate bits inside to its starkness.
To be a little less cryptic, I’m wondering if pursuing a PhD has more to do with my desire for a systematic life and a shot a job (I’d be obliged to teach if I got department funding – they’d have to give me work) than my desire to have another notch on my Epic Belt of Education +5. I gave up worshipping the value of education when I realised my BSc accounted for little more than oh say, nothing, and that the paper my now defunct name is printed on is worth, wait for it, nothing.
So why the PhD? I wanted to get close to people. I know, I know; I’m full of contradictions. It’s hard to know you’re any good when other people aren’t there to remind you; this is also an absurd contradiction because I never believe them, barely care, and am more content to satisfy myself with my flat, salty focaccia bread than anyone else who’s more interested in making it perfect to create cultural, monetary and mostly unseen profits (because ‘profit’ is a concept, not a tangible thing; can you imagine having your profit in clementines? I’d be blissed-out on account of my clementine addiction).
I’ll encounter my dreams soon. PhD or not.
I leapt off the cliff and plummeted straight down onto the rocks with a thud and felt ecstatic when I opened my eyes and saw that I was sitting on the shore, cradled by a deserted cove and the sea. I thought I’d died before I’d hit the bottom but it appears I simply woke up to the idea of making this novel my novel and not a book of suggestions made by others. I’m still trying to figure out my message but like any good story, it takes time.
Things are making more sense and I understand now, that I can create the worlds/lives/people I want and send them off into the atmosphere where they’ll exist on without me. It’s like having kids I think: you spend a lot of time and money on them and even before that there’s the sex and the growth and then the birth. Never thought I’d use a metaphor like that in my lifetime. I’m becoming more domesticated and I blame the novel. But the novel is opening me up and holding a mirror, saying you’re writing me and you’ve always written what you want; I’m your dreams, so write me and free me and then you’ll have me.
The dissatisfaction I was experiencing a few days ago hasn’t gone but its real cause has finally shown up now that I’ve lifted the novel off its head. Have you noticed how everything is spectacle? Aristotle says that spectacle is a shitty way to develop a plot. I’m not saying life is a script in any inherent way but that we’re making it like that. And we’re doing a rubbish job of it. This is a brief observation on my part, but everything looks like it’s being slotted into categories:
- Insurance (car, home, life)
- War (flu epidemics, hay-fever, self)
- Appearance (fashion, beauty)
- Cars (that we don’t need)
- Money (quick loans, banks, credit rating)
- Price crunches and sales
And everything is spectacle; if it doesn’t dazzle and shine, or isn’t near-naked, it’s worthless. I wonder what the world would look like if it washed its face, put some clothes on and sat down for an honest conversation.
I’m shocked that I’ve written this much, but then I did promise. I’ll need to look over the list from Jan 2nd again and refresh my memory. I’m sure scrap-booking was in there and this is probably what I’ll do next, seeing as I’ve found a bunch of leaves I pressed last autumn, along with a wealth of postcards I’ve collected over the years.
October 16, 2010
I’ve done something socially abhorrent: I’ve quit Facebook and without telling most of my ‘friends’. I can hear you asking me why so I’ll do the decent thing and answer.
There’s a point where my resilience to people, their dumb-ass attitudes, bigotry and constant negation of my feelings stops, even though I try to remain mindful that compassion extends to all. Including those who resemble parasites under the skin.
I doubt that there are many individuals (asides from the raging masochist but I reckon even they would get sick of it after a while) who would continue to expose themselves to a constant barrage of negativity and ill-will. Perhaps some of you would recommend that I stop taking it so seriously? I’d say that’s rather apathetic and completely against the spirit of community.
Social networking is great for smiling and connecting with friends and sharing the good times with hilarious photos, even for raising awareness; until people start bashing their views into cyber-space like they’re the only one with a valid opinion, photos you don’t want on public view start cropping up and friends constantly fail at the ‘friend’ part despite being able to fulfil it for their other 3,864 mates.
(Disclosure: I have to admit that I’m a little sad to know that I’m going to lose touch with some people but then if either of us truly cared, we’d make the effort and email one another.)
I could have simply removed all of the individuals who have made me lose faith in the human species for the billionth time but I’d not be able to remove the ads and the constant demand that I connect with people I don’t know. See previous rant.
Again there’s only so much resilience I have when being force-fed crap I don’t want to know about, look at, participate in, connect with or listen to. Go away and let me discover things for myself; let me make my own decisions; all is mind-control.
Facebook is a fine example which aptly illustrates my belief that humans aren’t social creatures. On a large-scale anyway. Pocket communities that are interconnected but remain independent of an enormous whole, fine; massive social movements en masse? Not cool. A lot gets done but a lot also goes terribly wrong.
Can you blame me for having had enough?
In other news, I’m constantly thinking about the PhD in The Contemporary Novel offered by the University of Kent. The odds of me getting funding are so slim that if Chance and Luck were physically manifested as deities, they’d be suffering from intestinal parasites and instantly landed with modelling contracts.
I’m relatively optimistic. Note the relative part.
Asides from dreaming up my research area and slowly teasing an idea for the novel out of the fog that is my imagination, I’ve been contemplating the notion of there being a genuine opportunity for me to get the cash I’d need to do this.
Would a charity fund me? I would have thought that being a disabled student might open some supportive doors for me but I’m yet to find anything. Research councils, public bodies, employment grants, university grants. They’re my options.
But there is a problem: the Guvmint is running around with a giant switch-blade (which are illegal, ironically…) which means that getting funding in this atmosphere has just become highly fashionable.
Even if there was a charity out there willing to support someone who lives openly with mental health problems and are committed to dispelling the ignorance currently choking any chances of mental health being understood, I would have to be something very, very special indeed. My writing would have to be a revelation.
Whilst I have no doubts that I could bring my writings to a decent standard with a bit of elbow grease, I’m ever-the-cynic when it comes to believing that I’m special, gifted, talented – whatever. That’s not self-depreciation by the way, I just don’t think I’m that fabulous. I’m good but not cut out for celebrity.
The same concern arises when I think about being accepted onto the PhD itself; am I good enough? Are my ideas, even in their infancy, original? Can they be developed tightly? Is the research I’d produce unique and would it create new pathways for the academic world? Would the novel be engaging? Would it open eyes and encourage independent, rebellious thought – something I think we really need at the moment.
If I can answer ‘yes’ to even half of those questions and survive the dozens of other swimming around in my head, maybe I could survive a PhD.
I desire it greatly. Not for the extra letters added to my name, not for the money from the funding, not even for the fact that I’d be staying on in my favourite institution.
I desire it for the knowledge. To have free reign over what I’d research, to be able to dream and create on this level would be devouring. And I’d not only write my already forming ideas, I’d practice them too.
I’ve already started doing it…
August 12, 2009
I shouldn’t be given the responsibility of making decisions. Not because I can’t make a good one but because I often start to wonder if I’ve made the right one.
There are a myriad of possibilities when it comes to making decisions, so I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a ‘wrong decision’, just bad ones. Or silly ones. Risky?
You can tell when you’re starting to question your judgement because you obviously make your choice, time passes a little and then the memory of it might surface through conversation with a friend or through random synapses firing; you get that sudden tug in your stomach, similar to the one you get before you’re sick, followed by the feeling that you’re missing out on something.
I’ve made some hefty decisions in the past year and most have died out already. Except one: postponing my studies. And I’m reminded of it at least twice a week where I find myself worrying that I was a bit hasty, if choosing this path will mean that I end up in an undesirable position next year, if I’ll even be interested in going back or indeed if it’ll even be worthwhile.
There are pros and cons; if I go back next year I’ll be able to finish the qualification, maybe get my life back a little, spend some time with a friend, get out of the house, engage in academics again but it also means that I could end up finding that I’ve wasted my time (after finding that I didn’t get much from the first year) and about£2000.
If I don’t return, I get that money back. Yum. I’ve potentially not wasted my time, I don’t have to worry about being unwell at any point, struggling with work or travel, feeling ostracised etc. but it also means I would have dropped out of an MA course. I don’t like that part. And I could actually be missing out on something big.
I could be stressed out and tired all over again in September (by returning early) or I could spend my year out worrying myself sick.
Money or opportunity? In all likelihood, both are bound to lead to disappointment sooner or later.
April 8, 2009
There must be a point in your life where you’ve encountered the annoying instance in your chair being too low to type comfortably (check-amended) and being torn between two things: not ice cream or lovers or shades of shoes or truths or lies, but suitability.
“I’m right for this; you’ll have to dig but I’m right for this!”
“I’m right for this too; you’ll have to dig but I’m right for this too!”
On the face of it they might not seem to differ much, but you damn well know they do and it’s only on the face of it that you see where they are so similar that you understand why you’re in this mess to begin with: they’re both difficult to work with and they’re both insisting that they’re the right one for the job.
Nostalgia and a bizarre understanding of complicated ideas is making me yearn for not so much the comfort and safety, for there is no comfort or safety to be found here (oh no… not here), of dare I say it – Derrida – but his sometimes unnerving act to make me fall in love with these odd little symbols that you find scattered about all over the place. And they should make sense, right? Not in my life time.
Then again… the flirtatious coos of something I’ve not really explored that much and have only recently taken a fond interest in is in itself, creating enough emotional havoc in my already befuddled mind(s), lax and tired from being pushed too hard, as to leave my heart-strings in the throes of a perpetual, arousing hum – such are the movements that I follow in Cixous.
I feel familiar (!) with the former and at ease (!) with the latter but both shake up in me excitement, dumb-foundedness and liberation and all of the things that lead me to sit here on a Wednesday night wondering which one would be more suitable for what I want to do; so weigh it up they say and I do and discover that neither are going to give me an easy ride and here it is now, the crux of why I am so in love with what they have to say —
I only have to decide what I want to say.
February 6, 2009
I’ve never doubted for a second that people suffer for their art; it’s almost midnight and will probably be gone midnight by the time I’ve finished writing this, and here I am writing this. This which is my vain attempt to push through that final wall of exhaustion so that I can get to sleep.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve tackled dense reading material and I’ll admit that I’ve been consciously and unconsciously avoiding the reading for EN878. Not because I don’t want to read it but because it takes a lot of energy, most of which I haven’t managed to recover from the desiccating grip of the past fifteen months yet.
I’m rusty. My memory is shot. I don’t remember the majority of the day that has passed, virtually none of the week that has vanished and last night I was informed that it was in fact Thursday and not Tuesday. So I worked extra hard today, from about 3pm onwards. What I did before that time … who knows.
Bersani and Dutoit are not pleasant reading companions. Their work on Rothko is complex, lengthy and to put it in more physical terms, like trying to eat a mountain with a teaspoon; takes forever, bloody hard work, kinda kills your bowels.
In the face of material that I struggle with or have never encountered before, I put on my miner’s hat and start digging around in the pits of the internet for scraps: small references, definitions, fragments of people who have been doing this for years already, study guides that I know should be questioned for their credibility. I’ll also spend a good hour or so trawling through my growing library of text books, the majority of which come from my Social Sciences degree (oh how handy that has been, so glad I studied it – Mickey Mouse Degree my arse…) in order to find anything worth relating to the topic at hand; I’ll look for anything that can pull the layers apart so that my eyes can remain in their sockets. Perseverance eventually gave me a justifiable source to bring me up to speed on the nature of the epistemology of perception.
I’ve been rummaging about in the online journals, mainly J-Store, for my salvation. Today, I came up trumps. “Nothingness Made Visible: The Case of Rothko’s Paintings” by Natalie Kosoi (Art Journal, Vol. 64, No. 2 (Summer, 2005), pp. 20-31). Thirteen pages of clear discussion on the topic I’ve been trying to drag out of that poxy chapter by Bursani and Dutoit since I got my hands on it before Christmas. What’s even better? Kosoi discusses the chapter, and challenges it. She draws on Satre and Heidegger (all hail SparkNotes, don’t care what you say…) and she just makes sense.
Reading the article came with a price of course. One article, not a major challenge right? If you’re one to let things go or maybe if you have a life with better things to do than read the article in such a manner that you visualise every word to create scene after scene, to the point where you can almost see the author spending months researching and writing it; if you’re not one to suffer for your art, then I guess one little thirteen page article is just another page to turn.
I’m not on top form at the moment anyway and reading this thing, putting all of my effort and concentration into reading it has knocked me back a couple of evolutionary steps. Now I can’t sleep but I’m utterly exhausted. The sickest part of all this, is that as much as I have come to admire and love Rothko, I don’t intend to do carry this topic onto the required 5,000 word essay.
Not that knowing this helps me sleep or anything.
November 23, 2008
I used to be adamant that what I saw was a mere projection of my mind layered upon a physical environment. Everything comes from the mind, is the mind. Now, I’m not so sure. There are things beyond the mind of ‘I’, things that reach further than you, than all of us. Don’t get excited. It’s not god.
There are things to be seen, and those that do not want you to see. And if you do see? Well, then you’re mad…
I am mad. I am mad. In your eyes. MAD.
In my eyes … we … are just eyes.