i haven’t even the excuse of busyness, i just haven’t had anything to blog about, my life somnolent, my mind quiet at last; or, the things therein too kooky to communicate; and could one really be said to communicate, if one’s words were automatically discredited? Recent, banal, events:
1. My German is slowly improving. At times i somehow seem to make the right “ch” sound, then try again and produce only “sh” or “k”. i have had a few extremely basic conversations with Bosche. The grammar is weird but in some ways easier than English. The energy and difficulty of English grammar is in the time tenses (e.g. present perfect, present perfect progressive, past simple, past progressive, “used to”, the past unreal conditional), which suggests some profound sensitivity to the many subtleties of temporal passage, in our English (Shakespeare’s sonnets). German has, i think, none of this; the energy/difficulty lies instead in the relation of objects to subjects – a hierarchical language, this, a language of precedence, of careful distinction between doer and done-to. One can learn and apply the rules of German grammar like a robot; English grammar is trickier, not amenable to the robotic mind.
2. i encountered two interesting books, Richard Powers’ In the Time of our Singing, and Eric Ambler’s The Mask of Dimitrios. i’ve read one other Powers book, The Echo Maker, which was in many ways utterly different to Singing. There is a similar dovetailing of themes at the (surprising) conclusion, the serpent biting its tail, and both novels are very well-written, and intelligent, but otherwise they could almost be by two different authors. i find this even more impressive. The Ambler book is – if you wish a tag – a literary thriller, like Alan Furst or le Carré, at their best. There are plot holes but everything hangs together well, on the hooks of character more than anything.
3. i have occasional attacks of happiness and reflect that, had i listened to my friends & well-wishers in Kiel, i would now be back in England, doing minimum wage data entry jobs in banks, earning just barely enough to survive, surrounded by chavs and chocolate-cake eating managers. i would have committed suicide within a few months. Instead, by refusing to take a step back, i have a job i like, enough $$$ to live, i like my students, and the other teachers are a renegade crew of martial artists, would-be-writers, ex-rock-stars, ex-Special Forces Macedonians, demented gents, and elberries.
i’m not sure one can draw very general conclusions from this; what is true for me may not be true for others. But i feel the only right path, for myself, is one of unswerving ruthlessness. i suffered for 5 years, in the trenches of data entry, because i didn’t have the balls to kill myself, or at least to force some final resolution. By dithering and attempting to conserve myself, i lost my life, for 5 years. Is this true for everyone? i am unsure but i feel it may have some general relevance. Certainly, if one is not ruthlessly intent on an inner purpose, one becomes vulnerable, open to any greater power. Leaf on the wind, then, you exist at the behest of every passing breeze, every power.
i don’t expect a happy life, but it must at least be mine; i will not live as the function of some elaborately brutal algebra, or as some power’s minion, chattel, whore. i will serve; but only a god. There is no bravado in this; it is rather that i am too weak to subsist at another’s pleasure, afraid and involuntary, a thrall. But in this my weakness is my redemption; for i have been redeemed.