1.  Am off to Vienna tomorrow, will likely have no internet access for a few days, so will try to write something now. Not much time or energy of late, on top of 12-hour days i’ve been slaving at my hideous Bildungsroman the last few months, actually the last 14 years, and am now reasonably content but still of course unsatisfied, on each edit finding yet more gross imperfection & lewdness. My only consolation is that each version is slightly better than the one before, this latest noticeably more than the one i published on Lulu in 2008. It’s been hard work because i had no idea how to write a novel when i began in 2002, and so one can see it like renovating a house built on bad foundations, unable to just rip the whole thing down but instead preserving the essential structure and bit by bit figuring out how it should have been to begin with. The 50 or so rewrites are not testament to the novel’s excellence, but rather its (and my) original inadequacy; much as the Japanese swordsmiths folded the steel umpteen times because their iron was low grade, and this folding served to even out the carbon content.

2. My life has been a long process of painful refinement, because, presumably, the original ore was so low-grade. And yet, i find myself partially conscious, unlike many – not intelligent exactly, but able to simultaneously live, think, and observe my own thought processes & emotion. Most people, it seems, are not. Last week i realised why i am so panicked by complaints, by surly-looking students; i noted that every time i have a great group or class, and think “i like my job!” i almost immediately have a shitty class as if to say, “hey, you bastard, you should die.” i believe such recurrent patterns are (for me, at least) intended to instruct, and so i dwelt upon the matter, and after 7 years of fairly frequent complaints, 7 years of fearing i will be fired and die in a ditch, in Bradford, 7 years of nonetheless surviving all, it became clear that the particular shape and urgency of this fear is what one could call a past life residual stress. Being outcast and despised, and destroyed, is part of my essential nature, but in this context, particular and explicable.

3. i am presently going through a kind of convergence of times and selves, manifesting partly in odd coincidences, and some kind of “telepathy” – with the latter, i find myself knowing what people will say, before they say it, and while some of it is probably easily explicable since i know my students, their core vocab, and can thus occasionally anticipate almost exactly their next few words, there have been enough weird moments where, realistically, no one could have imagined what would follow, and i was sitting there nodding & smiling encouragingly, thinking the words which my student then uttered.

4. i attended the McLingua Christmas Party, getting a plate of disgusting Indian food (actually quite nice), a glass of red wine, and locking myself in a classroom to enjoy the party without distractions. i then read some of a Daniel Silva Gabriel Allon novel (well-written if sometimes predictable spy thrillers about a Mossad agent; more or less okay though i notice that Germans are always described as stupid bigots and, well, it’s no surprise the author’s wife works for CNN) till California Jesus and Doug the Greaser came in, stared at me, and said, “What the fuck, are you READING?”

Later, i met a fellow pagan more or less by chance, as we say in Middle Earth. Curiously, i am far more radical than he – he’s my age, Welsh, an archaeologist, but a soft polytheist, whereas i am very much one of the heardingas (runic pun). For me, there is no point pursuing this if one is merely adoring and beseeching figures in one’s own head – perhaps it works for some; for me not.

5. Age now 40, i feel i have outlived my self and rather pleasantly exist in a volatized space where it makes no real difference if i physically live or die. Almost all my human contacts are in class, and i have to read English for hours every day to maintain some connection to the language. My students are of course just my students, i am friendly, cordial, encouraging, but there is necessarily no real connection; i rarely socialise, having learnt to avoid and distrust my colleagues; the last time i met anyone i trusted was the last time i saw Juniper in Kassel, a month ago; but tomorrow i will cavort with the terrible Viking in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, sacrificing Christians and quaffing mead gin in the name of the old gods.

 

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