It´s as well i stopped blogging when i did, as work has increased to about twelve hours a day, leaving no time for anything but pointless Facebook updates and sleep, and at the weekend some reflection and planning and magic. A fairly typical day: wake at 0600, leave flat at 0640, get a tram to a nearby company to teach engineers from 0730 to 0900; take a tram back to HQ to teach an engineer one on one from 0900 to 1330 (i arrive 15 minutes late, thanks to the scheduling); from 1400 to 1530 i teach another student one on one, then another from 1530 to 1700; break for 45 minutes, during which i eat four cheeseburgers and drink the 12th cup of black coffee; teach another group from 1745 to 2000; get home for about 2045, too tired to go shopping or eat or do anything but sleep.

Working thus i earn about 1.5 times my salary as the Speech & Language Therapy secretary (because i work 1.5 times as much), have a great deal of fun teaching, get to travel, to get up and walk about, to draw stick figures on the board, to elicit amusing tales from my students, and to pay off my many and horrible debts. However, i have no life outside of work – even at the weekend, if i´m not working on Saturday, i feel profoundly reluctant to see or talk to anyone, and so sleep massively, then read in bed for hours, finally shambling forth for pizza and booze when the supermarket is about to close.

i don´t resent this too much, as i am mindful of my debts and their steady diminishment, and i do enjoy teaching a great deal. But as usual in my life there is no balance. A friend said, a few years ago, that i either have too much solitude or too much company and i seem to have swung from the solitude of Kiel to an enforced sociability as a 12-hour-a-day teacher. i like most of my students – perhaps because i have been so long alone, and i am so strange, i find even quite bland and normal students a little fascinating, alien; but it is a great strain to control them for 12 hours a day, to keep juggling topics, to adapt to their weaknesses and needs, their strengths and demands, not to be able to just shrug and fall silent, as i wish. Most of the time they do the talking, but i must prompt and direct their words, i must listen with full attention, i must correct and steer, and always think “what do i do next? and after that?” The school materials are good, much much better than the shite i had to use at i______, my first employer, but not perfect, so some lessons require considerable improvisation and care.

Outside of work the following notable events have befallen this dog:

1. Going to see a local production of Wagner´s Die Meistersinger with David in late May. i had listened to the opera a dozen times on CD but never really got much out of it. Live, however, it was something magical. The production was superb – i had dreaded the kind of ironic post-modern mockery whereof Roger Scruton writes with contempt, but they chose a timeless/modern set, carefully balanced to avoid the perils of risible antiquarianism and strenuous modernity – a little like David Lynch´s Twin Peaks, which seems somehow outside of time even as it is very early 90s. The final act was very powerful, with the necessary strangeness of the magical, which is true. Tickets were only 35 Euros. If i´d have known how good it would be, i would have gone every weekend.

2. Discovering some local gods, statues no less, in the nearby park. The park is itself an odd place – David said he would never go there after dark, and seems to respond to some of the oddness i sense, towards which i lean. i dare say it is used at night for the usual things but at dusk in particular it is an eerie place. There are about two dozen old statues, i guess from the 18th Century, of gods, a strange selection of minor Roman deities like Pomona and Flora, some i hadn´t even heard of; the only major gods are Pluto and Hades (really the same thing). Like the Sudfriedhof cemetery in Kiel, it is a little apart from the very modern and very ugly Ultima Thule. There seems some lingering power there (typical that Morgana lives about 2 minutes´away from one particularly sinister entrance, i about 7 minutes´away, from a different angle). Hades looks like Apollo in his grace and youth, lips parted, bearing the horn of plenty – the wisdom of death, the horn of Kenaz.

3. i also stumbled by chance upon this interesting chap, Al-Biruni. He seems to have been some kind of polymath scientist/philosopher who was drawn into the orbit of a charismatic tyrant; he also pointed out that we can´t really say if the sun goes round the earth or vice versa, from what we observe. Much is lost.

4. These lectures. i have read about a dozen books about Dante but never found anything of great interest. These lectures, by Giuseppe Mazzotta, are exactly what i wanted. i am won over by his evident passion, his powerful and entirely personal rhetorical ability, his appreciation of John Sinclair´s prose translation (still the best), and most of all by his utterly unmodern intelligence, by which i mean it is not coralled and gelded by the academy. For this man to lecture at Yale strikes me as a miracle. i wanted to order his books but being academic works they are out of print and, second-hand, prohibitively expensive. But i urge anyone interested in great literature to listen to these lectures. You can get them on itunes for free.

5. And Italian. i take Italian lessons with the quite lovely Italian teacher at my school and find i can actually chat in Italian quite volubly, much to my amazement. i found it almost impossible to manage more than the odd sentence, back in Padova in 2003, but i think the tutor carefully accommodates herself to my beginner´s Italian, so i never feel out of my depth. She laughs at my Dantean vocabulary, saying it is correct but not really what anyone would say, today. i enjoy the lessons immensely and strive to achieve the same effect with my students; along with learning Italian i learn how to teach, observing her technique. After a few classes i managed to read the first canto of Inferno entirely in Italian, glancing at Sinclair´s English at times to check i had read aright. This is a heady feeilng for me, a great great thing. Mazzotta´s lectures are, in many ways, what i wanted to write about Dante, but that i lack his erudition, his background in Augustine and Aquinas et alia (my old impatience with philosophy).

6. Blogs. Great line:

There’s a new seriousness among the green beans.

7. Went to Göttingen to get some culture and bootie viewing, found a 6 euro collected Shakespeare (hardback), various other books including this fine tome:

Please note the pilot´s tie and also the interesting serial code on the front of the helicopter.