Tuesday, 31 July 2012
Tuesday, 31 July 2012
The things that are missing in my life at the moment are the things I keep postponing day in, day out. Some of these things are completely neglected; others require more dedication. It may be that all I need to do is to simply start making time for them and, eventually, become obsessed with them. I have often suspected that I have an obsessive personality. Unfortunately, my current obsession is with laziness. But it is, nevertheless, an obsession. I've had many others.
I try to identify characteristics that mark obsessions off as obsessions, rather than regular activities, ideas etc. It seems to me that one thing all obsessions share alike is the ability to turn those who are afflicted (if that is the right word) by them into eccentrics. Sometimes just partially eccentric, but eccentricity is, I think, a symptom that accompanies obsessions. And if it doesn't, it seems to me that a process of repression is taking place, which is much more dangerous than eccentricity that grows freely and openly alongside an obsession.
I don't think there's anything wrong with eccentricity per se. Which leads to my next point. Obsessions also share with other obsessions the characteristic of being pre-moral. They aren't necessarily bad. Therefore, eccentricities that may develop as a result of the active pursuit of an obsession can be either benign or malignant. An eccentricity can be a charm or an unpleasant feature of someone's personality. Here I should make the honest suggestion that, if personalities are innate entities, they are also full of potential elements that may stay dormant throughout a person's life. They can be intensified and they can be deadened. They can be awakened in midlife, or in one's old age.
I've actually tried to get obsessed with things I felt I needed to do and I think I was successful. There were many books I had purchased at London charity shops that seemed to be destined to oblivion, at least as far as my reading them was concerned. I believed I stood to gain a lot by reading them. My obsession at that time was red wine. Or was it? Was it an obsession or was it a habit? Was it an addiction? I chose to call it an obsession. A habit that turned into an end in itself. It wasn't just the red wine, actually. I drank red wine every evening. About a bottle and a third of a bottle. And I read. I read the books I wanted to read, for the same reason stated a few sentences ago. But I only read in the evening, as I drank red wine. This meant I didn't read much, even though I read regularly. So I decided to ditch the red wine and consoled myself, in the cold turkey period, by telling myself that what I was getting into was also radical and excessive. And the fact is that I started to read quite a lot.
I found myself back to square one when outside events upset my new daily routine. My new obsession was cut short. Although I now see that I could easily have carried on with it. Just as some people turn to alcoholism or drugs to relieve stress, I could have stuck with my obsessive reading. Like a escape route. But a escape route that didn't just messed up with my mind. I could have carried on getting a bit cleverer than I was. Reading (if the books are properly chosen) are brains that you can pick at leisure. There are many brains out there that I have very good reasons to pick. Besides, I see a new tumultuous period of my life coming my way. I hope I can keep calm and read on. Actually, I hope I can not help keeping calm and carrying on, just like other can't help killing themselves with cigarettes. Cigarette smoking, by the way, is an obsession; not an addiction. A very vulgar kind of obsession.
This diary is something I want to try and turn into an obsession. I want to write more, and if I can't organise my thoughts enough to go about writing something a bit more structured, at least I can develop a habit of writing everyday. The next step is obsession. That, at least, is the idea.
Monday, 30 July 2012
Monday, 30 July 2012
Can one really live completely without superstition? I mean, even leaving aside belief in a supernatural dimension, couldn't it be the case that a proper grasp of certain life events isn't really within reach of one's rational capacity? And that guessing with the help of sheer intuition sometimes becomes the only reasonable course to take?Well, perhaps I should just drop this slightly fatuous attempt at a prelude to what's been really on my mind all day. If my tepid determination to keep a diary is to be made good on, it is alright for me not to focus solely on a list of the day's events. As yesterday's entry made clear to myself, I don't seem to qualify even for the mundane task of getting the chronology right before I sit down to write. But I shouldn't hedge my bets with preliminary thoughts of a general kind, as though I were talking about something that matters outside the context of my private life.
I haven't been able to resist entertaining the notion that certain choices we make in life are endowed with what I'd call a current. Like sea currents. Currents that take you inexorably in a well-defined direction. There may be plenty of room for small variations, but which are engulfed by the broad lines of an immovable trend.
Defeatism is something which, for the untrained eye, I could be accused of with justice. Talk of inexorable directions smacks, no doubt, of passivity and impotence in the face of life's events. And I think that is where the word superstition seems to suggest itself effortlessly. Superstition, that is, in the special sense of being a last resource, when there is just too much going on, at too fast a pace, for you to hope to be able to make sense of things.
You make a guess. It can only be called a guess. It can't possibly be a theory, not even in the non-scientific sense of the word. When I use the word theory I like to be able to present at least a few interesting reasons that back it up. Anyway, immediately after warning myself against talking as if I had some deep universal insight into the nature of life to offer to humanity, I fell back straight into the same mistake. I'm glad I'm talking to myself.
But, yes, I think I'm kind of stuck. I think this is just going to go on like this indefinitely. If I just carry on, my life will simply continue to be exactly what it has been since I decided to change its tack radically a decade and a half ago. Which, of course, seems to offer one single way out: I need to go back to what made me take the road that led me to where I am. Yes, perhaps this whole effort - this effort that has certainly brought with it many gains - has simply amounted to a postponement. I may have simply taken a break of life. A break that has been going on for an absurdly long time. I have been acting like someone who wants to avoid doing some necessary task by playing videogames or washing the car.
And yet, there were so many little distractions along the way, that some of them became important. They demand my attention and they want to follow their course to the end, until, like a river, they reach some sea that gives me back my freedom. But maybe I'm juts kidding myself, as has become my habit.
When is enough enough?
I can't tell. Perhaps I'm completely wrong about this theory of mine that equates superstition with rationality, albeit in a suitably loose manner.
Well, I guess I'm bound to go on and on in circles tonight. If I stop here, I will at least have suggested to myself some interesting lines of thought, which I'd be better advised to take up once I'm feeling a bit happier and less obsessed with my search for a clear answer to a messy network of enmeshed questions. This entanglement of emotions blindly trying to make sense of a recent past that is by no means characterized by uniformity. I shouldn't be in a hurry to identify patterns in this complex landscape of fifteen years. It's better to allow some clouds to dissolve and some fresh air to be blown by the summery breeze of a rainy end of July, and make decisions with a mind that feels generous, rather than cornered by these ghostly, spectral hounds of time.
Sunday, 29 July 2012
Sunday, 29 July 2012
I have discovered a kind of recipe for living my daily life. The ingredients, when generalised, are simple: food, reading, cinema, walking, writing and teetotalism.
Today began with coffee with soya milk. The youtube video was wholly unnecessary, and that is why I watched a Peter Singer lecture, in which he discusses the relationship between ethics and Evolution: a bit like listening to a serious audio-book. I also ate some Scottish rough oatcakes with olive oil spread. Then I lay in bed again and read Frege. Gottlob Frege. Tough. I wish I had been a better maths student. I'm actually considering doing an Open University course in maths.
Being able to access the internet on my mobile phone (something that, all of a sudden, seems so prosaic) means I can't help checking my inbox every ten minutes or so and taking a peek at my facebook page. Things which, again, I could very well do without.
Just after twelve noon I decided to prepare noodles with broccoli and tomato sauce. But first I turned on my laptop and went online. Then I chose a film to watch on the lovefilm British website: Chocolat. I began watching it while the water was progressing towards boiling point. It bothered me that the French congregation, at the little French church in the pretty French town, chose to sing an English hymn, in XVI century English. The film was clearly not set in the XVI century. I had to put the film on pause, chop up the broccoli quickly and throw it with the dry and hard noodle into the boiling water. I ended up adding a huge dollop of Philadelphia to the tomato sauce when I was heating it up. It took less than five minutes for me to find myself again in front of the laptop watching Chocolat. As I ate, I was further annoyed by Judy Dench speaking English with a phoney French accent. I ate my lunch quickly and stopped the film. I turned off the laptop, lay in bed again, with my stomach more than filled with noodles, broccoli, tomato sauce and Philadelphia, and wrote a post on facebook from my mobile decrying Chocolat.
I read more Frege and, eventually, went out for a long walk, glad that the English summer had gone rather cool. I had a single espresso at a cafe called Nero near the Turnpike Lane tube station.
When I got home I realised I had to wash my clothes.
My dinner was an interesting concoction made up of kidney beans cooked in water with salt and garlic, half a cup of rice, baby sweet corn chopped up, peeled and chopped up potatoes, a vegetarian imitation of minced beef and two vegetable Knorr cubes. This must sound horrible, but it suits me to the hilt. I ate this, as it were, dish with lettuce, red cabbage and lots of Greek olive oil.
I couldn't help watching a new Noam Chomsky video on youtube while I ate my dinner. And I went on to watch a debate between Professor Chomsky and a guy called Alan Dershowitz. Actually, most of it I just listened to, lying in bed.
I should have read more.
I forgot to mention another video, about a teenager who denounced his Christian fundamentalist history teacher to the head teacher of his school. The guy had been telling students that they should believe a lot of religious mambo-jambo. Everybody seemed to be against the poor teenager, but American law wasn't. Happy end for the lad (to cut a long story short).I posted it on facebook too and suggested it to one of my facebook friends, who liked it very much and reposted it.
Too much youtube, too much facebook, too little reading, enough walk, a bit too much food.
And this is all I have written all day.