Oxford / Updates

some tidbits

I was asked today what I’ve been up to the past week, and a little to my chagrin, I found I couldn’t quite honestly say, though I felt sure that it has been quite eventful! Scrutinizing my Excel timetable, however, it appears that I’ve gone to two long talks (one on management consultancy and the other being my college’s subject family dinner), spent a not-insignificant amount of time having excellent conversations, dealt with two essay crises (politics and economics), fed ducks on a jaunt, and generally slept very late (and woke up even later). I’ve only been out one night, which was Friday, so it isn’t even excessive inebriation or indulgence, I don’t think. I have also read a book entirely for leisure and perused some fascinating articles and watched a few great videos, some of which I’ll link to below.

What I haven’t done is go for a single lecture.

This is the moment in the term where awareness of the end has reached the optimum level wherein it inspires action but does not elicit panic. I’ll enjoy it while it last (presumably for … the whole of Sunday tomorrow, which I plan to spend productively and diligently finishing my philosophy essay and drafting my economics one, and possibly even returning to the gym like a prodigal daughter) and then ride the final two weeks’ DRAGON of stress and anxiety into Easter vacation.

I overdramatize. A good two hours today was spent at the Oxford Singaporean society’s AGM, which included hustings for next year’s committee. It was illuminating; I was there primarily for one presidential candidate – in fact, I signed up for membership in order to vote – and upon leaving, I couldn’t help but ruminate on the ineffable forces that drive campaigns and political successes and electoral support. It seems a feat that someone could have influenced me to fork over £5 for a society I hadn’t previously been inclined to officially join simply to cast a vote that was statistically very unlikely to be decisive, but consciously, it had been an impulsive decision on my part. How rational is voting behaviour – by rational, I mean intentionally, deliberately reasoned? Emotion is a factor in the reasoning process, I agree. But there are so many factors we cannot anticipate. Someone told me in passing today that he had voted for me for Academic rep because he wanted a humanities student, who would understand that our lack of problem sets and labs does not mean we have less (demanding) work. That wasn’t even a factor I considered (but then how much of that is my own lack of experience, anyway?)

(Quite tangentially, the whole studying politics as part of my degree thing is really casting these real-life (pseudo?)political proceedings in a new and fascinating light. Sometimes I suspect that Singapore’s – previously – placid political scene has disadvantaged me in terms of instinctively grasping the undercurrents of political events and electoral processes.)

The book I’ve been reading the past few days is a collection of personal anecdotes as narrated by Richard P. Feynman, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist (among other things). It’s written engagingly, but the content is extremely profound as well, without coming across as pedantic or moralistic. He sounds like such a fun person to be around, to be honest. It’s not difficult to see how he became as immensely successful as he did; there are a lot of little life lessons tucked between his clear prose.

I also found this Ted talk and article to be very honest. It’s given by a model who discusses, disarmingly frankly, her privilege. Nothing too revolutionary, but admirable, and a little heartwarming, nonetheless.

I gave the talk because I wanted to tell an honest personal narrative of what privilege means.

I wanted to answer questions like how did I become a model. I always just say, ” I was scouted,” but that means nothing.

The real way that I became a model is that I won a genetic lottery, and I am the recipient of a legacy. What do I mean by legacy? Well, for the past few centuries we have defined beauty not just as health and youth and symmetry that we’re biologically programmed to admire, but also as tall, slender figures, and femininity and white skin. And this is a legacy that was built for me, and it’s a legacy that I’ve been cashing in on.

This video I watched briefly this evening, while procrastinating. It’s fantastically easy to understand – I would love math if I had been taught like this – and very profound. There are different types of infinities! Between The Feynman book and this video, I’m starting to feel almost … science-y. Ha.

(The next book on my leisure reading list is the magnum opus, Gödel, Escher and Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. A friend recommended it to me two years before but this video reminded me of it.)

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