Oxford today looks like a stadium after the concert: receipts and little bits of paper ground into the earth, a few stragglers wandering about, but an overwhelming sense of sudden and profound emptiness. That is less the case within Wadham, where Tanushree and I are occupying Library Court collectively and where I have been getting to know the young woman who is standing in the for porters: the daughter of the head gardener, now studying psychology and philosophy somewhere up north.
Today included tolerable progress on the reading front, though the volume of material continues to overwhelm as much as it inspires. Regular infusions of the more melodious Tracy Chapman songs helps maintain perspective and focus, as do those of the more sonorous of Tori Amos songs. I remain particularly transfixed by the live songs on the second disc of To Venus and Back: they are reminiscent of the two Tori Amos concerts I have been lucky enough to attend. At the first, she was in her soaring, Godlike mode (embodied in songs like “Precious Things”). The second concert, which I saw with Nick, was firmly rooted in the playful side of her character, as represented by songs like “Mr. Zebra.” It’s hard not to believe that music has the ability to shape cognitive processes, both in the long term and the short term. It becomes internalized in a way that is profound and probably impossible to completely isolate and understand. Something Nicole Kidman says in the commentary that accompanies Moulin Rouge, about how sung words are interpreted on a different conscious level, definitely has something to do with it. Read as naked characters on a white page, even the cleverest lyrics lack the huge bulk of their poignancy and power.
For this upcoming Oxford term, it strikes me as a good idea to become actively affiliated with at least one club. Back at UBC, I developed a five-pillar strategy that was meant to promote the absence of depression, the living of an active life, and the general pursuit of satisfaction. The basic idea behind it was to always have five distinct threads of life running at the same time. School was always one, and generally one that could be balanced against things that were going poorly. Others included photography, long-term romantic relationships, debate, hiking, and other such activities that occupy time, introduce you to people. and use physical energy. Given the not-insignificant time that it requires, as well as the people to whom it introduces me, I think blogging can be counted as my second thread, after school. Now, I just need three more.
The danger that this approach is meant to mitigate is the danger of setbacks on one front colouring the whole experience of life: creating a self-perpetuating cycle of perceived failure and dissatisfaction. With five threads, each fairly distinct from the others, the chances of that are significantly reduced. It also allows for a versatile approach to allocating time, especially if some of the tasks (like photography) can expand and contract in response to the overall burden being imposed by tasks that cannot be deferred: things like school and romantic relationships.
In closing, I think, it’s best to extend my greetings and best wishes to my friends around the world. I was reminded of my appreciation for them yesterday, when I called Alison, Greg, Ashley, Sasha W., and a number of other people to wish them an enjoyable winter break. If there is one thing I’ve appreciated most about life – especially since starting university – it has been the chance to meet the people who are now my friends. They are challenging, interesting, intelligent people who constantly force me to reconsider my positions on things, while simultaneously providing affirmation about the purposeful nature of life, and the possibility of improving the world. I hope very much that I will have the chance to introduce some of the people who I’ve met in Oxford to people who I met elsewhere. Providing connections between heterogeneous groups of people who will gain something from one another is among the most rewarding forms of inter-personal relations.
- While further attempts to fix the sidebar so it appears in the correct position in IE continue to be fruitless, it is becoming clear that literally hundreds of people are having the same problem. Somehow, discussions like this simply do not help me.
- Anyone interested in commenting on my brother Mica’s videos, as have been discussed here previously, should do so on the blog which he created for that purpose. This will probably conclude my making links related to this, since there is a forum specifically intended for it now.
- In response to some confusion that was related to me yesterday, perhaps I should make clear that the blog includes several types of posts. The most common are daily posts, which include a photo of the day, and are published either after midnight or with the timestamp 12:01am, when they are published earlier than that. This is to ensure that each daily post appears under the date heading of the date after the one about which the post is written. In addition, there are post types that are made with unmodified timestamps, regardless of when they were written. These include photo posts, like the five from the Baltic trip, topic posts, like the one about the Tallinn occupation museum, and steganographic posts. Daily posts can also have steganographic content, as can image files.