Monday, 10 August 2015

Final Year, Part 3

January 3rd
" Panic set in this afternoon when I woke up and realised I was letting another day of potential study slip by. I think that panic was the best thing that could have happened to me at this stage. It focused my mind, induced enough clarity to allow me to see what has been holding me back and what I need to do to return to required levels of productivity. I arose with the intention of rebirth. Energy tablets and berocca are back. I had my shower, straightened out my room. It is obvious that the late night texting is killing me so FB has been shut-down and I even locked my phone in the boot of the car."
It was a case of preparing to study without actually doing any substantial revision up to this point. I think I leapt out of bed at something like 2pm that day with the vision of imminent failure smacking me in the face and a resolve to force myself into action. Clarity informs the solution to a crisis and the distractions are more easily identified. My attempts to have a social life, whether through the classic mode of human interaction or through a modern electronic medium, were rather punishing to my odds of success at the time. It is a sad indictment of my lack of focus and occasional neediness that I had to lock my phone in the boot of my car just to avoid its hovering distraction. Even when it is not making noises my peripheral vision is constantly active as it attempts to catch a glimpse of a flashing notification LED. Fortunately out of sight out of mind and in the boot of a car had the hoped for affect of sedating my thirst for a vibrating handset and letting me get on with some work.   

January 9th
"I hate my own stupidity, my ignorance. I despise that I know so little about science, history and philosophy. It hurts me when I think of how little I really understand and how little effort I put into changing that. The Charlie Hebdo murders have left me personally frustrated because I am unable to articulate a coherent response. I don't understand enough of the content, the motivation, the conflict to form an opinion that I would be confident enough to express. There are certain truths that I feel like 'I know' but for which I haven't fulfilled the academic criteria for evidence. I don't have the confidence to speak without certainty. A virtue perhaps, but I'm often uncertain." 
I know nothing! and it is extremely irritating to me that, physiologically speaking, my best years for absorbing and understanding new information and ideas are behind me and wasted. But I can't change that now, all I can do is either regress to a popular and happy state of ignorance or continue to inform myself even when it leads to immense frustration. And I suppose humans didn't make it this far through regression.
   I was tremendously interested in the Charlie Hebdo story in January but I didn't really have the time to wade into it deeply enough to satisfy myself. I am reticent to voice opinions in public without having a strong grasp of the reality of a situation even when those opinions are strongly held. You see it is one thing to be certain in your convictions in light of deep understanding of facts and circumstances but entirely another to hold convictions in absence of these criteria. This is when statistical stereotyping and prejudiced generalisations enter the equation, forming opinions from pseudo-facts. I guess it is fair to say that my reticence may stem from a fear of being caught out and schooled by someone in better possession of the facts. A simple human defence-mechanism.

January 12th
"Well that, was fucking dreadful! Today's exam was a disaster for everyone. I mentioned last night that I was getting up early to study. I did, at half 4. Little did I know that it was a complete waste of time as almost nothing I looked at would appear on the exam. We've been led up the garden path to believe that past papers would be relevant. They were not! In fact they were blatantly misleading. Nevertheless I must continue on tomorrow and Wednesday. I will need every ounce of ability to see me through the control exam. My desire for literature has been awoken once more tonight." 
I only hear the voice of Will from The Inbetweeners and not my own in that opening exclamation.It certainly was a fucking dreadful exam and my worst result of the semester transpired from it but that was still 68% so I'll take it. It does highlight the error of focusing on past papers when studying for an exam even though statistically it gives the greatest probability of success. It is a method employed for short-term ends, specifically the passing of an exam. However it isn't particularly useful for true understanding and total absorption of any of the material. It is something I mean to address when approaching each new exam cycle but in the pressing nature of the time I always recall the statistical advantages of studying the past papers and abandon the total knowledge formula. 
     I remember that every one of us came out of that exam dejected and demotivated, some of us convinced we had failed and the rest just hoping to have scraped a pass to avoid a repeat. Even in the exam there was noticeable shifting and squirming in the seats and a constant flicking of pages as we all searched desperately for some questions we could make a stab at. Perceiving that the rest of the exam hall struggling was quite comforting at the time. In fact it probably enabled me to relax and I think I squeezed as much out of that exam as I possibly could have that day. 
     As for my desire for literature, I am not entirely sure why it was shaken awake that night so my comment ends here.
January 24th
"I have just squeezed Steven Pinker, Bertrand Russell, The Qu'ran, The Communist Manifesto and Sylvia Plath into my burgeoning bookshelf. It is all part of trying to have my opinions formed from the first principles by learning for myself. Today I was so pissed off in work because of what I perceive as stupidity and ignorance. Maybe I am a little frustrated at my own development. I let everything linger in the future, rather than taking it in hand right now. I took Georgia home last night. I really do like her. The connection has not really weakened because of her holiday. Snapchatting C here. It's been a while." 
As addictions go it's not a bad one. Although the addiction exists at present more in a state of compulsion to purchase books rather than to read them. But my intentions are always good even if life and other things have a habit of getting in the way. In fact I am currently in the middle of reading on of the above, The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker. The book is a scientific and philosophical investigation into the human race's history of violence and how it has declined exponentially in spite of many people's perceptions to the contrary. Actually it is one of the greatest books I have ever read and I would recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in history, philosophy, science, sociology, anthropology, psychology or neuroscience. 
     Sometimes I think that my annoyance at the stupidity of others isn't simply transference of my frustration at my own. The impulsive book buying may be circumstantial evidence of this. But then I realise that it is not the stupidity itself that really irritates me but the general regression to acceptance of it. By this I mean the unwillingness of intelligent people to show their true intelligence and the tragic belief some people hold that they are incapable of learning new things. It has become a cultural norm in many places, a dagger through the pre-frontal cortex some and a ticket to an easy life for a few. But I think I pity the few.

February 2nd
"I wonder if I am not falling behind once more. I wonder if I am not truly happy about the progression. Sean is getting married, Aine too. Barry has quit his job and is doing what  he wants to do. Steveo is trying for a PGCE and probably engagement sometime soon. Caolan and Roisin are settled in their new house. Even E has a decent job now. It isn't just those I have mentioned. Others are in good jobs, buying houses, travelling the world, living. But this was always how it was going to be with me. I didn't grow up in the years I was meant to. I may never now."
Fuck me! You can spend your entire lifetime in a degenerative comparison with your contemporaries. Well I certainly can anyway. So other people are happy, on the face of it at least, but that shouldn't automatically entertain direct comparisons in the negative. The question is: Do I really want the things other people have and do I need them to make me feel happy? In a reasonable and lucid state of mind the answer is obvious to the point of the question being made redundant. 
    However reason and lucidity are only two components of a temporary state of my polyphasic temper. During my less enlightened phases I think I should be celebrating my third wedding anniversary, working in a comfortable job with at least a negligible correlation to my degree and considering the ludicrous proposition of fatherhood. These appear to be the trappings of the superficially successful lives of my contemporaries and many of them seem genuinely happy. But I have no desire to sire an heir and much to find someone who might be compatible for mixing my genetic material with. I must admit though that the house and job stuff do make an impression on me so perhaps this is where I should focus my unstable attention in future.

February 3rd
"Today was certainly the first day that I felt myself gently dipping my toes into the semester. In fact it was the first day I really enjoyed what I was doing. I am thinking about adventure again. Or if not adventure then a future of changes. I don't have any desire for engineering so I might very well chuck it into the sea in another twelve weeks. Whether it is travel, real money, a new job, learning something completely different, finding a way to write more often than I do at present, well I don't really know. Adventure for adventures sake." 
I can't say that there were many days during this final semester in which I really enjoyed what I was doing. Electronic Engineering is a title allowing a modulated course to be constructed from a broad range of often minutely related subject areas. With this in mind you might think that the probability of finding something you are particularly interested in being quite high and you would be correct. However probability is not reality and I kind of beat the odds on this one. It's really quite boring you know.  
     I love dreaming of adventure, love dreaming of a more exciting future. Sometimes the feeling is intoxicating enough to initialise action in making it happen and I think I can pour all my energies into getting the fuck out of dodge as quickly as a well-financed escape would allow. It's the prospect of travel that excites the most energy. How could anyone not want to see the rest of the world? Only ignorance could possibly deny the virtues of seeing the world outside your front door, the education and enlightenment, the pleasure and pure wonderment of it all. 
      I am often left a little disappointed when this excitement dissolves into the monotony of life and the energy required to press ahead with plans dissipates to nothing. That's pretty sad actually. 

I know I am a dork but I am amused by the accidental inclusion of three words in that penultimate sentence that begin with the prefix 'dis'. Word fun.

 February 10th
"Sometimes I think about sex in ways that make me want to command it right now. Writhing, hot, twisted bodies. The visualisation becomes vivid. I am depriving myself of the opportunity for a reason, for a future goal but I question how much I am losing in the mean-time. The sexual impulses of a man don't recede just because he is attempting to suppress it temporarily. I am still charmed and hypnotized by women walking past me every day. I am intermittently drawn towards the doom of former lovers, a mistake I would be better to avoid. It is the inner thighs as her legs as her legs are wrapped around me that is imprinted most often on my mind."
Command  it? Right now? Eh, no that seems a little unlikely. Warren Beatty I am not. Even the impression that I thought I was losing something as a result of focusing on college might seem to imply a rampant sex-life, hurtling along like a high-speed train into a tunnel. The reality was much closer to a Hornby model railway: A sad little man playing with himself in his room because the girls don't want to. 
     I am stating the obvious I know but men are men. We are compelled to engage in sex because we wish to ensure our immortality by passing on our genetic material to the next generation. Often this is a pleasure of course but there are moments in the lives of most men when it would be convenient if this function came with an off switch. Moments when the hypnotic features of a woman can be all too distracting to a man who really just needs to get some work done. It was probably during the times when I was attempting to lose myself in study that I was most realising n my mind most vividly those legs wrapped around me. You see one way or another sex always wins. The human race would not be so prolific otherwise. 
      I notice I mention something about being drawn towards doomed lovers. The warning proved prophetic...

February 16th
"Rather bizarrely, although through my own twisted contrivance, I had a brief text conversation with Luiza today. Superficially she seems quite settled and calm, even suggesting that we don't chat too much. She is right of course. She mentioned that we are two very different people now and I wonder about the truth behind that. Am I really so different now? The pre-text behind this interaction was that I have gotten a new phone and my number has changed. A worrying sprout of Machiavellian machinations. Otherwise a regular day. Some classes, some exercise, some homework, some job hunting."
Luiza is an old flame of mine. Someone with a distractingly fascinating personality whose charm belied a severe destructiveness beneath the surface. She could be fun and entertaining to be around but her own issues got the better of her a little too often and when she began to drag me I had to cut the cord. I guess on February 16th and the preceding days I was feeling a touch lonely and all of her crazy shit didn't seem like such a drag, so I took a shot. 
     If I had made that text six months earlier we might well have met up again and I'd only now be recovering from all the harrowing consequences likely to have entailed. As it was she who poured cold water onto the nascent rebirth of our connection I think I should like to say thanks to her for doing me this favour. We haven't spoken since and I have no intention to either. It is quite probable that we won't ever have any contact with each other again. This seems a little sad to me.

March 4th
"Today began well when I got a wonderful sense memory of some feelings I used to have. A smell and some sunshine had me dreaming of Liverpool. I'm on a Bob Dylan kick right now so the drive up to DKIT too and I'm feeling confident now. In class I took a personality test at Kevin's behest. It actually appeared quite accurate, proclaiming me an introvert, more fixed on ideas than reality. Newton, Descartes and Socrates are my spiritual predecessors apparently. I'll take that. As the day wore on and I got home a severe depression threatened to strangle me. Angry and hopeless again, I began to consider where I am going and why do I even bother. I may die of this mental disorder anyway. It gripped me for the rest of the evening. So much so that regression seemed to be almost complete." 
I love random vague memories that remind you of a time in your life rather than a specific occurrence. Cold sunny days like this one often leave me with a nostalgic feeling for the time I spent living in Liverpool. The use of nostalgia to colour the memories is important though because it wasn't all good. 
     As you can tell, not every day during this semester was a particularly productive one. I vaguely remember arriving late this morning because I wanted to stay in bed longer and I could. When I got there everyone else had taken the personality test, proving themselves as sociopaths and male-mothers among other generic groupings. These things are so fucking stupid but when they throw up something that you are happy to hear you take it as fact to bolster your self-image. I like Newton, Descartes and Socrates but I won't ever mimic their success and that's personal tragedy I am reminded of once more. 
      That is a pretty violent mood-swing to occur in the space of a few hours. It has happened a few times this year for one reason or another and even for reasons imperceptible. It is a bloody awful feeling when I regress into that state of mind that I have frequented so often in former times. It is the hopelessness that can kill me. The thought that there is absolutely no possibility of you ever having any kind of happiness in life is scary and if you really believe it there isn't really any point in continuing. Anyway it seems to subside more readily these days. The Venlafaxine helps.

March 13th
"Today I got the resolution I had previously stated I required. It was in the negative but I credit myself for balls. Yes I asked a girl out and yes I thought she wanted me to but alas, she refused my invitation. I am rather disappointed I must concede but it is not terminal. I even hold out some hope that it may occur in the future but hope isn't always a positive mode of thought. It can however be a superb driving force in the right context. It struck me this evening when A told me that her beux had said he wasn't ready just how delicately poised most people's emotions are. Certainly those who contemplate happiness." 
First thing's first, it did happen in the future. Reading this back two things strike me, the resolution and balls. The merit of the first is having a mental aggravation resolved, ideally removing the distraction and stimulating progress. Up to that moment I had probably been rehearsing the scenario in my head a couple of million times, ultimately wasting energies that could have been better spent on a game of sudoku or something. Seriously though, if you have a constant distraction on your mind that you can eradicate with action, act.
     The second, balls, strikes me because I did something that I would consider at least a little unusual in my environment; I asked someone out. But not only that, I did it face-to-face and without the hearty intoxication of alcohol drowning my inhibitions. I also did it by eschewing the modern trend of using electronic text messages as an emissary to carry my question. Okay so I didn't exactly discover penicillin on March 13th but it was still a good day for me. 

March 17th
"As you can see from the insertion above, today is St. Patricks Day. It turned out to be quite a fun day in parts.I went down down with C and R and D joined us a little later. I walked alone from their house into town. It is very refreshing and regenerative. Apparently F and S are moving to Sheffield together and maybe won't be at Sean's wedding. Why should I care about these things though. D was gagging for pints but I managed to resist, finishing the night on the Manley's sofa watching a movie, and feeling a little in need of a girl." 
I've never been terribly fond of St. Patricks Day myself. Sure it's a day off and it is great to celebrate Ireland but it's associations with underage drinking and the foundation of ludicrous mythology have always been a bit of a turn off for me. But having been locked in my bedroom for a couple of months it was a good chance to go out and have a bit of social interaction. 
      It was a lot of fun hanging out with the guys that afternoon, watching the typically front-loaded parade (towards the end I vaguely remember seeing a portable toilet on the back of a lorry), eating concession stand burgers and sweets and even allowing myself a single pint of Guinness to toast the occasion. Formerly that one pint would have led me onto countless others before I would be leaning on the railings outside Bellinis kissing some hideous Scottish woman who bares and uncanny resemblance to Alex Salmond. Not that this ever happened! I'm more restrained now and I had college the next day so I wanted to be as fresh as possible. 
     Circumstances similar to the one depicted in the final sentence always seem to leave me feeling a little in need of a girl. I don't think it is a symptom of being the third wheel because I never am in that house and rarely ever feel that way. It probably has more to do with the need for physical contact and an intermittent desire to have someone to cosy up to on the sofa at the end of a long day. Either that or it was simply that I hadn't had sex in a while and was a little in need of a girl for that.

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