Musings / Pearson

you believe you are living

You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book (Lady Chatterley, for instance), or you take a trip, or you talk with Richard, and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death.

Some never awaken. They are like the people who go to sleep in the snow and never awaken. But I am not in danger because my home, my garden, my beautiful life do not lull me. I am aware of being in a beautiful prison, from which I can only escape by writing.

-the diary of anais nin

She’s a French-Cuban author who became a feminist icon. I read this excerpt from here, and it struck me how closely it echoed my thoughts about Pearson. [M]y home, my garden, my beautiful life do not lull me. It has been a very sequestered two years. It has been very privileged, too. I told K the other day that I have been unable to find my peace with it, even now. It is still very much unresolved: all my conflicts with the place, its philosophy, its people, but it is also over, and I welcome the transition to a more … real(istic) existence.  For me, at least. All of these – all of anyone’s feelings about Pearson must needs be infinitely subjective. For me, it has been a bit of an intellectual prison; I have felt stifled, and the eminently fair criticism that I have let myself be stifled can be levelled at me. But the truth is – I have felt stifled, and that feeling has been difficult to explain to most people, and the effect of that isolation has been insidious.  Today, I was leafing through a Scientific American issue at my host family, and there was an article about the age-old question of mathematics being invented or discovered, and it was not only fascinating, but also prompted a quick re-evaluation of my idea of ‘world’ or ‘nature’ or ‘existence’ through its skimming introduction of all the fundamental physics questions – knots, multiverses, quantum particles. The modern, trendy ecologists’ preoccupation with capitalized Nature and our unity with it is as myopic as the consumerist’s materialism, I think. It’s just the skin of existence, nothing more. What of physics, atoms, mathematics, the cosmos? We barely exist.

It’s too late to rehash everything, though. Even as it is comforting to realize that I have not regretted or refreshed my opinion of it, I sometimes wish someone would contradict me so vehemently and rightly that I am forced to revise my attitude somewhat. But the people I have voiced these thoughts to end up agreeing with me, though it apparently gives them no cause for emotional turmoil. I am excited about university, and life. It is all relative, though, isn’t it? To where you have come from, and where you anticipate going. I have been very fortunate in my country of birth.

My summer seems wide open and very exciting. For the past few days, I have been deliberating very hard over a few stationery in Chapters and The Papery – the extent of the raptures I can go into over notebooks and pens should not be underestimated – and part of the reason I want them is to begin planning for summer. I have a whole host of things I want to do, and many of them will seem like work – and indeed, they are, but I like work, especially when self-directed and tangibly productive. I honestly can’t wait for my university to be confirmed after July, just so I can start emailing alum and current students and packing and planning. I don’t know what it is about Europe that fascinates me so – and of course, there isn’t one thing, but the confluence of its history, culture, literature and geography. Nevertheless, I am filled with an excitement that seemed to have dissipated the past two years. (Maybe it’s illusory, though.) Definitely going to check out my PPE reading list – that’ll be great. All my French and German books; I’ve already told multiple people that I’ll be speaking German to them when I next see them in Europe! Better make good my word. (Caveat: this is almost definitely not going to happen. In fact, chances are slim that most of the things I aspire to will.) I want to look at the recreational sailing or kayaking clubs, the water sports clubs that we have around Singapore. Volunteering … calligraphy! Programming! Pick up an introductory college physics textbook! Research scholarships! Cook! Read all the books on this list. Tutor my baby cousin! Get a decent-paying job! Get multiple jobs! Use my condo pool + gym often! Meet up with friends! Buy a camera and bike around Singapore at night taking photos!

… I don’t know. I don’t know what there is to do in Singapore, really. I don’t lament its urban nature, but it’s something you have to belong to, the institutional and intellectual climate, and I don’t, anymore, purely systemically. Maybe I’ll join a few clubs. Just as long as I settle the next ten days in Canada – I have never spent so much time making and remaking plans for such undistinguished trips between Victoria and Vancouver.

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