Oxford / Updates

life catching up with me

Clearly the best way for me to recuperate from my synapse-scrambling cold is to catch up on the only site I get news from – I should start resume my habit of uh, reading The Economist and Le Monde (as casually mentioned in my personal statement), but Andrew Sullivan’s fascinating because it’s bite-sized, varied in interests (most of which correspond to mine) and does not pretend at neutrality.

Supposedly my busiest week in the term, but I slept for twelve hours last night like a zombie only to wake up confronting a massive attack of achey and sniffles. Dragged myself to math class – haven’t been to a single lecture this week. It rained with a vengeance, too. Then dragged myself to Tesco because I was ravenous and don’t believe in hall food, where I purchased what was possibly a ludicrous amount of food. Then, I acted as though I didn’t have a philosophy presentation the next day that I hadn’t done anything for yet, and spent two hours making chicken soup and chicken porridge. In what was plausibly fewer than two hours, I had two bowls of soup, a salami-rocket sandwich, a mango, a small punnet of grapes, three chicken legs and a bowl of (rice) porridge.

Then, if you can believe it, I was even more hungry.

More relevantly (to other people, I suppose), it was from Andrew Sullivan that I found out that Jack Gilbert passed away last week. He wrote a few poems I particularly appreciated, and Sullivan posted them both, which was great:

We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment.

We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

a brief for the defense, jack gilbert

It’s the marine imagery – and boats. The other one was Failing and Flying:

Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.

I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
But just coming to the end of his triumph.

Have only kept up passingly with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … a close friend is Palestinian, and I can only think of her when I read news reports on it. There is something jarring about the silence surrounding the issue here in Oxford; I saw a small demonstration on Cornmarket the other day, but no one else really talks about it. Back in Pearson no one wouldn’t have brought it up. My personal feelings on this issue links to an article on the psychology of ethical giving, which essentially said that a personal connection is the most persuasive and effective method to get donations.

As it would be disingenuous to not mention my negative feelings towards my course (along my excited, hyper ones), I’d just add that curiously enough, I haven’t been able to engage with philosophy at all this term – certainly, nowhere as much as I did or thought I would. For what must be the first time ever, last week as I was going through the scepticism readings, I found myself hearing that annoying little voice go but what’s the point, really? In philosophy, if you start asking that, you’re basically sunk. It could be the focus of the readings, or a lack of exposure, or … something else entirely? What it definitely is: distressing. Fundamentally, I feel a lack of continuity in the courses/topics I’m studying, but I suppose it is the task of vacation to consolidate everything.

(Another minor incident that I am striving to view as hilarious instead of … well: in a recent tutorial, I had my tutor correct a non-English native speaker on one instance of erroneous word choice in her essay, concede that using a dictionary sometimes renders inaccurate/awkward translations, and then turn to me and say, ‘I guess you must have that problem a lot too, huh?’

Um, no, actually, I don’t ever have that problem. With English, at least. Am really too sick to say anymore about that.)

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