Another difficult month, financially, as most of my classes have been put on hold for August and part of September. Yesterday, i received my tax demand – surprisingly low, only €1100 or thereabouts; surprisingly merciful – i think the Kaiser deducts some of my obscenely high medical insurance, and also i earn almost nothing. It’s still roughly €1100 more than i have, but perhaps i can defer the payments.

It is a useful exercise, to really need money, and be tempted. It occurred to me i could put adverts on my blog, and i thought about it for a moment. i imagine my revenue would be slight – in any case, i doubt it would equal the amount i’ve received via paypal donations from readers. Why do i feel uneasy about adverts but quite pleased with donations? – it is the mechanised & manipulative nature of advertising, that everything is done by statistical models, and marketing tends to have a meretricious stink to it. Donations i see as evidence that someone values my work; there is no side to it.

Adverts would make me feel i wrote for money, that the activity of writing was incidental to financial gain. i am unable to commit much energy to peripheral activities, anything one would not do for its own sake; it is, however, hard to escape completely. Some tedious duties, such as queueing or memorising vocabulary, are immediately comprehensible; and as Juniper observed, the English even seem to enjoy standing in line. i can spent ten minutes in a queue, i can memorise vocab, but i could never convincingly perform in minimum wage office work, not day in day out, for years. That i spent most of my waking hours, from 2004 to 2009, doing things that had either very little or no value, purely for money, is testament to the modern world’s dreariness, and to my peculiar resilience. Five years in the trenches of data entry worked their changes; i am no longer willing to consider peripheral activities as a way of life. And so although i require money, i will not allow it to empty my life of meaning. It is not, however, easy to negotiate an uncompromised way of living.

It is important only to refuse to be compromised; one may well regard death as a kind of safety net – so one does not need to live an empty life; one can always die, and that is some hope. In any case, i turned my back on emptiness more than two years ago, and i have not died yet. Instead, things have (so far) always worked out, one way or another, and i have a job i like, a job i can do without hideous effort. i think my students respond well because they sense i am thoroughly present; it is only when they are not (as with the grotesquely wealthy little brats i taught this week) that i feel myself becoming perfunctory, distant. But this is the exception, and a good reason not to teach children (and these lessons were not wholly pointless, just difficult).

Last week i suggested my lawyer student have some classes with a teacher called Lucy, to improve his voice; she is a trained singer (Handel), and he needs to work on projecting his voice. Both liked the idea but Lucy, while welcoming the work, didn’t want to take units away from me. i suppose it was imprudent to suggest one of my few students go to another teacher; prudence, however, is a waste of energy, has never done me any good. A teacher’s first loyalty should be to the students – if he will benefit from professional voice work, this is more important than whether or not i get paid. To have done otherwise, to have kept quiet about Lucy, would have been to empty my lessons of significance, to teach purely for money – and then i might as well go back to £6/hour data entry.

It is a difficult balance and i don’t suppose many of my readers will understand me. Perhaps one needs to have wasted 5 years doing data entry, to feel the difference between peripheral and central activities, between two opposing ways of living. It’s also perhaps true that having nearly died of asthma about a dozen times in those years has given me a closer feeling for death. It is a mistake to suppose death is in any way undesirable; it is the certainty of death, as defining negation (or termination) which gives clarity and substance to life. Being the negation of life, death is in a sense a part of life, as one could say, in logic, that not-p contains the possibility of p, and vice versa. Beyond the surface oppositions one sees how it stands.

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