You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2010.

If i’m not slain by Nazis or fat women i’ll be back on 1 September.

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Ich könnte mir einen Logiker vorstellen, der erzählt, er sei jetzt dahin gelangt, daß er 2 x 2 = 4 wirklich denken könne.

I could imagine a logician who tells us that he has now succeeded in really being able to think 2 x 2 = 4.

(Wittgenstein, journals 1950, published as Remarks on Colour)

i bought some lurid purple pimp sheets for my bed – not even my bed, left behind by the dopy girl who used to live in this room. The room suddenly looks much better, more fit for human or at least Elberry habitation. It pleases me that the quilt is a loan from Morgana.

Email exchange between myself and Bonehead on sleeping with people – just sleeping, not sex – shameful as it is, before this March i had never slept in the same bed as another human being. It is a curious sensation. Bonehead responds:

I used to just lay awake in bed watching my lady sleep. So strange and surreal to be a wild thing, an animal scorned and poked with twigs and then to be in a soft place with a delicate body close by within killing distance, humbling and beautiful.

i now divide teaching into grammar lessons, which are usually hard and require real thought and technique and mankilling boots, and conversation classes, where you’re more like a conductor, getting everyone to talk in a reasonably structured way, and you wear dandy shoes. The earlier levels have lots of grammar so require considerable thought and planning; the later levels have lesson plans like “tell students to discuss their holidays”.

Earlier this week i travelled to a nearby locomotive company to teach a lovely MILF, level 5 – so just directed conversation, no real grammar; a very enjoyable 90 minutes. There’s usually another student but only the MILF turned up so we sat in a quiet, small room with trees and birds outside, ran through all the topics in the lesson plan, and then just chatted about everything else – traffic, birds, magpies, crows, battlefields, death, the sea, Venice, Cambridge, eternity, mathematics, engineering, Wittgenstein, philosophy, Highlander, the weather, sunglasses, other teachers’ dogs. i was pleased that the students (apparently) requested i remain as their teacher after the first lesson, whereas we normally split one group’s course between several teachers.

This was our second lesson; on the first she gave me a tour of the factory; we stood close together, though i don’t think she was aware how close, nearly touching. An easy warmth developed very quickly between us – in an earthly sense, it will go nowhere – but i am increasingly aware that these energies go somewhere, are not wasted.

With this MILF and a couple of other students, i feel sure i have known them before – and, i suspect, they were among the children i taught in an earlier life, when i was a prick. Perhaps this is the case with some of my other students – some are hesitant, ready to be afraid, or hostile, already armoured with contempt or suspicion. i suppose they are naturally timorous or aggressive, but it seems particularly so with me. i tend to be gentle with the timid and bland or good-humoured with the angry – in either case, transparent – and so far they seem persuaded from whatever they bring with them.

Earlier this week my MILF student told me of a brilliant colleague of hers; he sounds semi-autistic – always eats the same thing, doesn’t have any friends, doesn’t go out, is only interested in mathematics, engineering, and model railways. He is apparently brilliant, but utterly incapable of ordinary human relations, almost too gifted for the little human things, like conversation, politeness, friendship.

“Sounds familiar,” i murmured darkly.

She gave me one of her wonderful girlish grins. “The conversation we have, talking about – everything – he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t talk like we do now.”

“Some people can’t.”

Today i travelled to another tiny village in the middle of the country, to teach a group of German engineers. An amusing group – one young lass  was once the “cherry princess” of a nearby town, an award for her great beauty no doubt, to do with the cherry blossoms and Ishtar or something; she also likes shooting guns in her spare time, as do so many Germans.

It was tremendous fun and when the class ended a BMW pulled up by me in the car park, driven by a 50-something lady student. She offered me a lift to the train station – about 5 minutes’ away on foot – i accepted and ended up getting a guided tour of the village in her BMW. It was a subtly strange experience – because i felt, just, some earlier energy being reworked between us – though i have no idea who she was, how i knew her before this life. She seemed pleased and bemused as to why she felt so friendly towards me, why she wanted to show me her home town, her favourite view of the distant hills, to share this with me. i think she was a little puzzled, to feel this quick, deep affection for me; i was curious as to who she had been, before.

A gathering of threads from my other lives – many moments coming together again in redeeming conjunction, so i am undone of my old mastery and loss, i am my own best student, unlearning what i have been.

i vaguely meant to vote this year, for the first time in my life – and probably in any life. However, i was busy contemplating imminent death in Kiel, then beautiful evil elves in Ultima Thule, and so forgot and now it’s too late and wouldn’t have made any difference anyway. i probably would have voted for the Raving Monster Loony Party, or the Tories if they weren’t so gay and friendly. i want a politician who wears tweed and beats churls and ne’er-do-wells and gouchers and socialists with his umbrella. He should have a name like Montaigue C. Birnbach and have seen the shit in some war or another. He will smell faintly of dog and sherry. He will be caught taking his secretary over an antique mahogany desk and offer perfunctory and insincere apologies that fool no one. For a man like this i would vote.

Walking in the park this evening i had a sudden shuddering of energy through my mind and then body – i think from the self i have outside of time. It was quiet, about 8 pm, as i walked between trees by a canal, mildly regarded by ducks and geese, ravens and crows – the latter intensely black and whimsical, curious and unalarmed by an ambulatory Elberry. The access was of orgasmic intensity, but seemed 95% mental, only incidentally physical (fingers trembling and so on). i wasn’t sure what to make of it, though i had just prayed to Woden – but then i do that very often – however, for a while i have felt that our reality is undergoing a transition, to other forms of energy. It seems to have been going on for at least a year – the magnetic field bears witness to this – and i think, in the next few months, many things will change, and many things will die. Things must change gradually, or ordinary life will become impossible – and, i guess, most people won’t really notice the change, only the further ripples.

Against this, politics seems very superficial. i wouldn’t deny that political events can have great results – but i think these events are merely the working out of deeper energies, of destruction generally. i am curious to see what will happen, as the world alters itself, or is altered; i don’t think we are living in the “end times”, but in a beginning time, when some things will end, and others begin. i think things like this have happened in the past – some of what we casually dismiss as legends, folklore, as obviously untrue, actually happened.

i am sometimes a little bemused to be living through this, aware, and even close to at least one epicenter of becoming. i don’t think there’s any point speculating too much about how things will change. The nature of the change is beyond us – it works through us, through our imaginations – but even the most lucid and far-sighted, the palantiri, to coin a noun from Tolkien, fail here. Curiously, and pleasingly, i feel some echoes of this in Rilke and Wallace Stevens, and philosophers like Heraclitus – the old guard, the true ones. They were really speculating not about our world as it is, but the world that could be – latent in ours – for we are always just becoming, other –

Today is Christehimmelfährt, or something similar – Ascension Day to us ordinary, tea-drinking folk. In this god-fearing land of ubiquitous bisexuality, such a great day is naturally a public holiday.

i tried to wish the MILF receptionist a happy Ascension Day yesterday, she had no idea what i was talking about so – clad in my black Dracula coat – i imitated dying on the Cross, being anointed by various Marys, spending three days in the underworld with Woden, Ishtar, Thoth, and then ascending to Heaven. The MILF observed this performance with some consternation, then ventured: “Dracula?”

So. A good Dracula Day video:

Emails from Bonehead today – he´s working as usual in some shitty temp job in Leeds – on his Facebook wall some whining Guardianista called Benny Blanco was writing shit – the exchange commences, touching the usual bases: our hatred of idealists, of bald people, an ex-schoolmate called Shrekh, and a dancer/model called Blazes, now in prison for banging underage girls:

Elberry: that benny blanco guy pisses me off, i want to throttle him and i haven´t even met him.

Bonehead: He is an amusing bald drunk who now lives as a recluse in oxford doing volunteer work for charities. He claims to be working class and salt of the earth but wears cardigans and speaks and looks like a rupert of the first order. His guardian-esque rhetoric is so tired and uninspired but I think, due to his psychological issues he believes he is some kind of crusader or legend in his armchair. At university he used to get drunk and argue with people. He was thrown out of several shared houses in london for irreconcilable differences with the other residents. He has no redeeming features but I have stayed in touch out of concern. You should taunt him with some Nietzschean quips. It would be amusing. Like bear baiting. Though I fear people like him are akin to faith types and too immovable in their notions to have any amusement with.

Elberry: He sounds like Shrekh.

Bonehead: He is indeed the white-bread version of shrekh with a twist of broken home and incest about him. He is a man who would wet himself before entering the coliseum or surrender to the muslims before a single shot was fired in the great war.

Elberry: even broken home and incest is no excuse for such reheated Guardian cliches, many a man or woman has merely been made brutally stronger for hideous experiences. In the words of the immortal Blazes, he needs to sort himself out.

Bonehead: I got a letter from blazes after a mysterious silence of about 6 months during which my letters were returned. I had assumed he has ben sold for a pint of milk or permanantly hospitalised by the aryan brotherhood but it seems he had just moved ‘house’ and lost some of his stuff. He seems quite happy inside though I don’t know how he is coping with celibacy, being a virtual rapist. He is teaching key skills and has some homies. This of course could be a cover, he may well be some gimp who is the butt of jokes and beatings because of his untamed patchy afro and feminine mannerisms. It is difficult writing to cons, like terry and blazes, what does one say? I tend to paint a bleak picture of life on the outside to make them feel better instead of talking about the spring booty on the streets and the girl on my train’s incredible tits.

And later, he writes of the boss in his present temp job:

My bulgarian boss here is hilarious. He is in his mid 40s, a polymath, a medical doctor, project manager and former special forces soldier of some dubious kind. He loathes the marxists almost as much as the turks and the greeks. He has all kinds of crazy ideas about genetics like a true nazi scientist. Yesterday, I had lefty tweedsters yakking in one ear and him whispering tales of buggery and punishment beatings in the bulgarian national service in the other. I believe he may have been used in some kind of ethnic wars or in some eastern bloc border patrol capacity. A truly strange individual with a round neanderthal head.

i went shoe shopping with Morgana and found the above dandy shoes. Being as she is an ex-tailor she was able to immediately and uncannily pick out the right size, and wisely advised me to buy them – which i did. The sunglasses i bought last week when Ultima Thule was in danger of summer.

The shoes don’t seem to have treads so i mince carefully about, gazing fearfully at the ground – the right attitude for an English teacher.

Lunch break at school now, for another 10 minutes. i just bumped into the sexy French teacher and said brightly “you must be the French teacher – i thought i heard French wafting down the corridors”. She said brightly back “sorry, I don´t speak English.”

Nothing else for it, i thought, but to plunge drastically into my schoolboy French. i told her, “in Angleterre, a l’école, je suis un etudiant de Francais pour huit ans, mais je ne peut parler Francais”. She laughed and said “me too – I study English at school but I cannot speak it.”

“L’école – merde” i pronounced with finality, she laughed in agreement, and i went off for yet another coffee. Yesterday i was finally paid so today i’m going to buy some dandy shoes and perchance some dandy sherry too. Whoah!

The quite lovely Dave Lull sends me the following article, by one Herr William Gass. It is all worth reading, closely, but i particularly enjoyed:

At this point we should be concerned with the quality of the experience; the saturation of a hue, its purity and consistency; with the way the sensation demands more and more of our attention, and entices us to repeat it: a bite of dark Belgian bitter chocolate, a solid that’s dissolving to form an exquisite puddle. As the chocolate coats the tongue it drives away all normal competition: what a friend is saying or what is showing on the screen. The feel of sand sifting through the fingers, the wail of a trumpet filtered by a forest, a softening soufflé—all participate in the moments of sensual transition. Such fleeting sensations struggle to realize themselves, and then they are felt to subside, with a shiver that is among the dearest of things.

And, against pornography:

Far away from the sensual, from the leap of water into a stream or the flow of cascading hair in your hand, is the pornographic, the mechanical in-and-out that threatens to replace the former’s subtlety with its own blunt legibility.

[…]

Sensuality is often mistakenly associated with harlots and their customers. Most excesses of the senses—nymphomania, gluttony, wantonness, drug and alcohol abuse—are nailed to the same sign. However, mechanical repetition—hence habit, routine, and surfeit—are enemies of appreciation. The man who is commonly and incorrectly called a sensualist cares only what the object or activity does for him in terms of numbness, erotic readiness, or exhilaration. The true property of sensuality evident in the fineness of a wine or the peace that inhabits certain surroundings—though it belongs to its owner as firmly as vines to walls—remains a tertiary quality, inherently adverbial. It is the quality of a quality, and it depends on the perceiver for its existence as much as does the thing perceived.

When i am overwhelmed by my centuries, and feel i have gone through all, i remind myself that i have still to read William Gass (his blue book aside). i feel good about Gass. He is one of the very few living people who knew Ludwig Wittgenstein. i would like to meet Gass, if fate allows. Here he is on his experiences with old Ludo at Cornell, in about ’49 if memory serves, just over 25 years before i was born:

And then you have a teacher like Wittgenstein, whose limitations were incredible. But he was so overpoweringly marvelous at what he did, it didn’t matter. He was in one sense a terrible teacher because he produced disciples. I think that’s a very bad thing.

i quite agree; it certainly wouldn’t work in TEFL. In another interview, Gass says:

What Wittgenstein taught me in that short period was not so much any of his conclusions or ideas, which I was thoroughly familiar with before I ever saw him; it was his involvement, his commitment to his meaning. The intellectual integrity he displayed was awesome, absolutely. I was watching not just a really great mind in operation but also an absolutely honest and pure intellect. I don’t think he was an honest and pure person, but he had that intellect, and you saw it. It was like seeing a great artist in operation—absolute scruple. No second-rate stuff would be permitted. That was really impressive. Again, it was an exemplification. Socrates embodies that way; I’m sure Spinoza must have. And Wittgenstein was the complete embodiment of that quest in himself.

A perceptive student. Perfection, however, has its costs. Of course one should try to be perfect; that is almost the definition, or use, of “perfect” – that which one should try to be – otherwise, why live? But i think one reason i liked Lancelot in the Arthurian legends, is for his attempted perfection, and his flaw – Galahad is unconvincing, perfect as no human could ever be – but Lancelot, the perfect knight, undone by lust, by “the dearest of things”, driven insane by – what? – not just love, surely, not mere Guinevere, but by his own desire for perfection – Lancelot is human. i don’t think i’ve seen him rendered better than in Boorman’s classic Excalibur:
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