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My Diary

Horror in the Library and Little Pains



I woke up in the morning reflecting on a piece of writing I had just handed in. I was wondering if it was readable. It is the very beginning of my thesis. The problem with rewriting and rewriting the introduction as I have been doing is that you can no longer read it and see whether it is comprehensible to an outsider. Had I been too difficult? Had I covered the relevant stuff? Was it clear what I was saying. I read it again after I had brushed my teeth. It sounded okay to me. However, I knew my subject inside and out. I was an expert in it. The question was whether a beginner would know what I was talking about.

I was pretty relieved to have finished the piece although I was also dreading the extra work of polishing up and correcting it would inevitably bring. I had therefore decided to take the day off and fit in some weight training and swimming. However, I had woken up with a peculiar pain on the right hand side of my breast which made me abandon the exercise. I felt something tear in the muscle as I was lying there on my back. It is a peculiar thing, but increasingly, I have noticed these little pains in the body. They can last for one or two days or even less time. The question is, why do they occur? What is happening in the body for these little pains to emerge? They don’t do any damage. They aren’t worth wasting the time of a doctor for. They aren’t serious. Is the body committed to inflicting pain upon itself? Some psychoanalytic theories say so and say that pain is a form of joy that the body desires. The little pains could well be psychosomatic. The problem, as always, is other people. Other people don’t talk about whether they have such little pains on a regular basis. It is therefore impossible to verify whether they feel these fleeting tortures or not and to find out information about them. I suppose that medical writers must have written about them, but my lack of medical knowledge makes me refrain from trying to make an inroad into the vast amount of literature that is available. The pain is still there while I write, notwithstanding my ignorance of it.

I spent the morning thinking about whether I should write something. I had the itch to write. I had a few little projects in mind to do. Then I felt what everyone that writes must feel. I felt the pointlessness of trying to get across my opinion on something. I know that people don’t agree with what I write. I have been in academia long enough to know that other people don’t share my opinions and am not foolish enough to think that the common person does either. After all, I never agree with stuff that other people write and know that I am hopelessly out of touch with the direction the world has taken. I was thinking about writing about Boris Johnson in the Sikh Temple. He had spoken about alcohol and been told off. Instead of apologising, he had told the angry woman that other Sikh people did drink and didn’t consider it wrong. It reflected the arrogance of that type of person, a trait that is particularly despicable in the Tory community. In their own place of worship, he was telling a Sikh person about their own religion, as though he was the expert. Based on what? Obviously, on his position of power. I contrasted the incident to when I had gone down to Westminster Abbey once, as a teenager. An old man had asked me to take off my hat as a mark of respect. Did I argue? Did I tell the old man that other Christians didn’t take off their hats in church? Of course I didn’t. Yet there was Boris Johnson with his frail ego and his idea that he hadn’t done anything wrong.

I went down to the library today and had a sensation of horror. As I wandered through the fiction, looking for something to read, I could find nothing of interest. I wanted something fresh and new. All I could find, outside of the usual detective novels and chick lit, was modern writers writing on the Victorian period or medieval times and then the older authors. I felt a sensation of horror. Was there no escape from history? How limited was the modern mind of the author? One knows that creativity is limited and not the boundlessly fertile ground that some ignorant people say that it is. But the relentless monotony of what people were writing about was like confronting some great void. To top off the madness, the Indian authors only wrote about Indian subjects which I knew intimately and was not keen on reading about again. While I was struck by the horror of the writing moment, I was confronted with a book by Tarquin Hall. I had written a review of one of his books a while back. I had criticised him for using Brick Lane to spy upon the locals as though it were a throwback to colonial times, as he had written about ethnic minority groups while he himself was a white, public schoolboy. Here he was, with his second novel with an Indian detective in it. On the back, someone had written that he wrote like an Indian because of the believability of his fictional India. And this summed up my experience of the library: an author that I didn’t like was given my identity by a commentator that was probably white as though he could just hand it around to whoever he pleased. Incidentally, Tarquin Hall lives in India and could be referred to as an Indian if one were so minded. I am not. Eventually, saddened and disgusted, I picked up a collection of award-winning science fiction short stories.

I got back home and watched the much maligned Gods of Egypt. It was a story of how love intersects with power and a reworking of Egyptian myth. I wasn’t going to watch it, but a number of schoolchildren I had taught had persuaded me to see it. They liked it because they had links to Egypt and thought it was about their country. It wasn’t. The movie is notorious for whitewashing its characters and for having white men play lead roles in it. The Egypt in it bears no relationship to what is historically accurate and the story is distinctly Western. It explores the relationship between ambition, order and chaos. As I watched it, I tried to see it from the point of view of a young girl whose first language wasn’t English. In short, I pretended to be my students. I think they must have been seduced by the action sequences, the cinematography and the emphasis on love in the story line. It actually features the goddess of love.

I went out shopping afterwards to buy some blueberries and strawberries. When I got there, the price tickets were missing for the blueberries and there were no assistants about. Being a typical Indian descent person, I never buy anything without seeing what the price is first. I had to wait around before the security guard popped around to ask him. I walked back home in the rain. When I got back, I prepared my lesson plan for teaching English for later in the week. I am going to teach vocabulary on movies and television. I spent the rest of the time reading about why blackface is wrong on the internet, as well as finding out about the Herculaneum scrolls, as I was once a classics student myself. It is an intriguing story about how reading and science are related and I would recommend everybody to find out more about it.



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