This afternoon, between bouts of reading Connelly’s The Terms of Political Discourse, I went for a long solitary walk along the darkening riverside. It was reminiscent of my long wander in the cold in Helsinki and it effected a fairly comprehensive shift in the way I was feeling. In contrast to the increasing gloom, I found my mood progressively lightening. That may be partly because the river is the only place in Oxford where you see significant numbers of animals, aside from police horses. There were herons and Greylag Geese, as well as teams of rowers moving in elegantly coordinated fashion along the Isis. I know this is the second time these particular waterfowl have been the subject of the photo of the day, but I feel a considerable amount of affection towards them. They have a look that I really appreciate, and they are completely fearless when it comes to people, which makes it easier to photograph them.
Walking along the tributary of the Isis that breaks northward towards Merton College, while listening to Vivaldi’s “Winter” (perhaps my favourite piece for strings), I felt almost perfectly at home. Because of the cloud and gathering darkness, I was the only person in the whole vast area, a circumstance that cannot help but conjure a sense of liberation. Returning to Starbucks to carry on reading, I felt like my brain had been completely reset and that everything that had happened in the last few days had taken place a long time ago. Paradoxical as it may be to feel at home in disconnection, it makes sense to me. The times when the world seems most incomprehensible are exactly those where the precise place and time you are at become critically important.
As I mentioned to Bilyana earlier today, Oxford life has reached the point of mental saturation for me. Like the vague feeling of eternal placement you get a few months after returning to school after a break, it has become something so automatically present as to comprise almost everything you can remember or imagine. This isn’t really a positive or negative development, in and of itself. It’s simply reflective of comprehensive immersion in an environment. All this is partly a reflection of comfort: I know the city now and would never think of carrying around a map, as I did during my first few weeks. Also, I know from my first-term evaluations that I am at least meeting the standard for my program – an enormous relief to someone a bit anxious at starting at a new school.
Oxbloggers meeting postponed
On the matter of the bloggers’ gathering initially planned for this Friday, it seems that most people want the date shifted. Since there isn’t really a mechanism for coordinating otherwise, I will just arbitrarily dictate a new date that seems to work for most people. I hope to see many of you there.
New Oxbloggers’ Meeting date: Tuesday, February 21st. 8:00pm. The Turf Tavern.
- The Sainsbury’s Chunky Vegetable Chili soup is quite good, probably their second best vegetarian soup after Tomato Basil. Given that I’ve eaten about thirty litres of the latter, it’s nice to have something new to try. I appreciate that the chili soup is at least slightly spicy, and that is has beans in it. I can’t even look at the Carrot and Coriander soup, since I bought fifteen of them when they were on sale for 20p each.
- Some particularly clever articles from The Onion: on endangered species and American politics.