Yesterday i had a two-hour session with Student 2. It went well, in part because there was a focus – Number 2’s upcoming oral exam with the K___ English Depot; she has decided to give a talk on “the monstrous” and language, in Paradise Lost, Frankenstein, and Othello. It was only meant to be an hour but despite her three small children quarrelling in the next room, and occasionally peering curiously round the corner, it spilt over for another hour. Student 2 is intelligent and literate, and enjoys thinking; in other words, the ideal student. We worked up a good outline of the monstrous and the Satanic, and the power of language; as in the best conversations, it was her ideas and my ideas, and difficult to distinguish between the two, finally.

In brief: Milton’s Satan, Frankenstein’s monster, and Othello, are all in some way monstrous; they all three accept another’s judgement – “evil, be thou my good”, or Othello’s peculiar, self-tormenting identification with the enemies of Venice, “the malignant and turban’d Turk”. They become monstrous, after being judged to be so; this may seem far-fetched with Satan but only compare Eve’s repentance with Satan’s refusal – and the Satanically bitter and obdurate Adam, who is only in the end redeemed by Eve – perhaps, if Satan had had his Eve, or been a little less obdurate, a little softer, more easily seduced, he too could have been redeemed, eventually.

Satan and Othello are masters of language (“the Othello music”), and though i haven’t read Frankenstein in 12 years, i gather the monster is likewise able to use language to cast a spell, to seduce. A strange pattern, this – the monster, the pariah, who is also able to use language to entrance, to seduce, as a kind of magic. Estrangement is gracious, if darkly so.

Student 2’s tutor is big on Literary Theory – in other words, he’s an asshole, so it’s possible my assistance will actually be counter-productive; there is total antagonism between my understanding of literature, of thought and life, and the self-serving bullshit, the anti-truth, anti-thought, anti-language, that is Literary Theory. It is natural that Literary Theory took over the universities for a generation or so – the scum rises to the top, especially in academia. It is nothing less than a cancer.

On the walk home, i was pondering the matter of academia. i enjoyed my session with Student 2, to the extent that i tried to reason her into only paying me for an hour, saying, “i feel guilty to be paid for something i enjoy” (she insisted on paying me for two hours). But academia is altogether different, the average undergraduate bored and brain-dead, averse to reading as to thought, and the bureaucracy every bit as oppressive and menacing and humiliating as in the NHS.

i am glad to have been three-times rejected for PhD funding. Even had i lasted three years as a postgrad (possible, if i had the right supervisor), nothing i write would be acceptable by academic publishers, and my inability to feign enthusiasm for lies and wickedness and dishonourable subservience would make me as unemployable there as elsewhere. It’s true that there seems no way i can survive in “the real world”; but death is no great thing, and it is better to die than to serve a false master.

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