Musings / Oxford

a few things

  1. I just realized that my original FB link to this wp broke when I changed my FB password a while ago. This explains a few things and not others.
  2. My definition of ‘taking a break’, at least for tonight, seems to be reading either Imagined Communities (a [cult] classic; Anderson writes almost a little too well. There is a hint of fluffiness) or Society Must Be Defended. There is a college club night happening but I am excusing myself from it under the pretext of my cough and impending cold. Otherwise, I would totally have gone. No, really.
  3.  I cannot express – or even grasp – how much I love my course. This afternoon, I reworked my economics assignment because I had done an absolutely terrible job of it in the rush to submit it before the deadline (which I missed by two hours, anyway.) It was pathetic how the dawning comprehension of what must be one of the most basic economic concepts ever swept adrenaline through me. My brain felt pleasurably strained. It was thrilling. It’s probably also a testament to my utter lack of economic instincts, but I’m willing to overlook that at this stage.The economics tutorial simply compounded this delightful feeling. I had missed, entirely, the point of the second question, but that is great, because it gives me something to work on (I’m not even kidding about the sincerity of this sentiment), and my fumbling attempt at a solution was pronounced to be ‘on the right track’. Then, at the end, my tutor shared his own experience of solving a complex economic question he was working on, and as he described his own process and how he spent a weekend agonizing over the problem and how the graph spiraled everywhere instead of where he had mentally figured it would go, there was a very humbling sense of … camaraderie, dare I say, that he was allowing us the honour of feeling, I think. I had spent the weekend agonizing about these basic microeconomic concepts. His account gave me some perspective of my own (perceived) difficulties (i.e. they aren’t really difficulties, just the barest foundations of these disciplines that I should get over complaining about not understanding !) but also a reassurance that we are all pursuing knowledge, if not truth, in our endeavors, at our respective levels – or in my case, at least the skills needed for even the most elementary excavation of it.It is almost unimaginable how he would spend ten minutes sharing his research with us or even devising tutorial questions to illuminate basic concepts for us – it is an extraordinary privilege. This reminds me of my economics interview, where I ended by asking what their current research interests were, and they actually sketched them out for me. I think about that when I’m walking – silent, contemplative – to lectures sometimes. I’ve probably said this, and I’m probably going to exhaust this sentiment before the year is out, but it is this weight that grounds me, through the flat, gray hours when the day never breaks and the unapologetic nights where the light of every other window has been extinguished … I haven’t been very good about abandoning sleep for work, but I am on a trajectory of improvement now.

    I feel bad that my tutors and lecturers have to teach first year undergrad, sometimes, when everything must feel so elementary, so irrelevant, so self-evident, to them. This is partially what prods me to work. Then there’s the complementary triumvirate of interests the three subjects hold for me: philosophy for its intrinsic appeal, economics for its extrinsic one, and politics a mix of both. Economics is the most difficult – or at least, fiddly – for me so far but the desire to grasp it is relentless because I think any event or incident of note in this world today must be framed by at least a rudimentary understanding of economics. UK politics now is very unfamiliar and quite local, to say the least but there is a certain satisfaction to be derived from understanding the politics of the country you’re currently in. Logic is simply interesting ! And not as bad as I feared. I am grateful my course is broad enough that I could simply switch from one subject to another when I feel saturated (or bored or discouraged).

  4. Then there’s the ethical impulse the awareness of my privilege compels. I have been struggling to map actions that would make the most of my presence here. Studying is a given, but I am searching for extracurricular commitments that would hold me, so far without success; it is a little distressing to think that I am doing nothing except study (and like, eating. Yeah.)
  5. I never know how to answer the question: is work difficult/busy? If you actually want to do it, how can it be too difficult or too much?
  6. Minor ailments: a persistent, mildly irritating cough; a blown light-bulb (and by extension, a Dickensian dim room); a lack of cardio exercise; an excessive meat intake (and by extension, a regrettably burgeoning appetite); frequent dreaming.

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