28 February 2009
I am also supposed to be getting my grad school applications done this weekend. I have the GSIS (pronounced gee-sis): grad school inadequacy syndrome. I'm trying not to be unduly alarmed because I have yet to see anyone apply to grad school in any other state of mind. However, I'm still sick with dread and fear over it. I want to get out of here so badly.
How am I dealing with it all? I had a long walk, that helped. I'm about to go sort out my closet, that will help. But, I have decided that something I really want is new music to listen to. I think it will make me feel better. The only flaw in this plan is that I have no idea where to start looking. To resolve this, I respectfully implore all of you to suggest something to me and help me save my sanity.
27 February 2009
One of the ones I have listened to so far was given by Miranda Fricker, who is a professor at Birkbeck, which has made me all the more excited about applying there. She talked about epistemic injustice and credibility deficits. Epistemic injustice is also called testimonial injustice and it refers to a situation in which a speaker is not accorded the appropriate authority as a giver of knowledge. This might sound a little frivolous on the face of it but when one considers its instantiations in the real world, the dangers become obvious.
Take, for instance, a situation which she uses as an example and which has happened to me in my real life. Let us suppose that there is a meeting and a woman participant offers a suggestion that is overlooked. Subsequently, the same suggestion is offered by a male participant and greeted with enthusiasm. Each of the two has offered the same information and yet only one was taken seriously.
Another example of testimonial injustice that I can think of is the psychiatrist's office. As a patient, no matter what one says, one's credibility is only granted at the whim or opinion of the psychiatrist or any other mental health practitioner. Because one has the label of being insane (or whatever designation you might prefer) and because one is in an environment that reinforces that label, the psychiatrist or similar as the audience is the sole determiner of credibility because they have the label and position that accords them superior epistemic authority. Depending on the practitioner, this can be more or less of an issue. However, I would be willing to wager that anyone who has ever received treatment for mental health has experienced the frustration of being awarded a credibility deficit in the doctor's office because of the very fact of having a diagnosis. I myself find it unbelievably obnoxious, the more so because the doctors, when confronted about it, claim that such an imbalance does not exist. You can see where it will go from there.
Anyhow, I heartily recommend listening to the podcast itself. Dr. Fricker does a much better job of explaining this than I do. I found that it was a great relief to get a nice new descriptive term for the phenomenon; such terms help me think more clearly about things.
26 February 2009
The mentalisms will put one out of touch with the body: all that focus on mood and mind. One forgets.
I've had confused feelings about being gay for years now, ever since the ex-ex-ex girlfriend and I split up. It was awful. I fell hard for her and I'm still carrying not a torch but perhaps something like a wax taper for her.
Before that, being a lesbian, especially an out lesbian, was a joyful thing to me. I love women. They're beautiful.
Women deserve so much.
I've gained some queasiness about it from all that I've read with respect to the church. It has made me uneasy about the morality of it. I can't see any logical reason that it should be immoral. There are no arguments against that do not have counter-arguments equally strong or stronger. I think I should go speak to a priest about it.
I suppose it is rather that it has made me envy heterosexuality. The simplicity of it all; the ease of flirting, the ease of not having to out oneself at every turn, the comfort of not having to worry about holding hands. I can't imagine receiving all that community support and well-wishing.
This envy, though, is a dangerous thing. It comes under the heading of thou shalt not covet anything of thy neighbor's. I need to learn again how to be content with the way God made me. Out of shame, I have been stifling myself. I am worried about the very real possibility of rejection. I have given in to the heteronormativity.
My question is: how do I get back?
25 February 2009
I'm abstaining from the internets tomorrow, apart from checking my school e-mail, being as it's a fast day and I can't properly fast from food on account of the medication.
For Lent, I'm going to take up the daily office (again - maybe this time it'll stick.) I am also going to take up looking after myself as I should: this is something that tends to slip away in the illness but, as I am doing well, I shall spend Lent concentrating on getting the hang of it again. There is one thing I'm giving up but I'm not going to share that here.
I like taking things up for Lent as well as giving them up. Lent is a very interesting time in the church year. Not only do we sing the best music and lots of gregorian chant but it's a church-endorsed time to remake ourselves and draw closer to God. Saying the daily office will remind me, twice a day, of the relationship between God, the world and humanity. Looking after myself will help me to see myself and, by extension, others with the kind of love and respect God has for all creation. I hope that all those of you who are reading - whether you are a practicing christian, practicing another religion, atheist or agnostic - have a Lenten season full of love and revelation.
For your aesthetic and/or religious enjoyment, here is a choir (not the one I sing in - there are only five of us and Our Lady of the Holy Smokes does not look like that at all) singing Lotti's Miserere, which we will be singing tonight.
Misere mei, Deus
Secundam magnam misericordiam tuam
et secundum multitudenem miserationem tuarum,
dele iniquitatem meam
Have mercy upon me, O God, after your ruthful heart, and, according to your multitude of mercy, blot out my sins.
24 February 2009
I can't believe I finally finished it. Now, of course, comes all the revising and so on, but that seems very appropriate work for Lent.
I'm off to eat pancakes at church now.
23 February 2009
I got the laptop from the circulation desk and took myself upstairs. I found one of the books I was looking for and the other was not on the shelf. 'Who,' I thought to myself, 'would have checked that book out of the library between 11.00 last night and 10.15 today?'
I went and hunted for an unpopulated place to sit because there was, outrageously, someone sitting in my usual spot. When I found another place, I opened the laptop and switched it on and while I was waiting for it to start, I opened up my book and flipped to the back to look in the index, only to find there was no index. Horrors.
'Oh well,' thought I, 'I can look up the page numbers I need once the computer switches on.' I put the book away and opened the browser, only to find that the computer was not connected to the internet. I tried disconnecting and reconnecting, restarting the darn thing, walking over to a different part of the library - nothing helped. After twenty minutes, I gathered my things together and went back downstairs.
At the circulation desk, they told me that the internet was only working on the ground floor. 'Fine,' said I. I went around looking for a spot to sit downstairs, which is difficult because the university writing center is down there and they make a lot of noise. I found somewhere rather dissatisfactory and tried again. Still nothing.
At this point, I was still relatively calm. I packed up the laptop and took it back to the circulation desk, whereupon a laconic young man informed me that the internet was only working on the ground floor by the periodicals. 'Okay,' said I.
I used to sit behind the periodical stacks quite often but I stopped when they put in a group study area because it became too noisy, so I hadn't been back in that part of the library in a while. I went over, with the aim of finding a seat and putting the computer down and then getting my things. To my extreme dismay, I found that they had taken out all the desks and tables and replaced them with beanbag chairs.
So I returned the laptop, checked out my book and asked them about the one not on the shelves. I was informed that it was 'not checked out' and when I told them that it was not on the shelf or in any of the return carts, I was told that it might have been stolen or that it might be in somebody's study carrel without having been checked out. There was nothing they could do about it. 'Thank you,' I said, and stalked out of the library and into the cafe to get some coffee.
Coffee having been acquired, I went to sit in the glasshouse, which is by far the nicest place to sit on campus. There is a fish pond and many tall, green plants. It's always warm there.
I opened my book and started flipping through. I couldn't find the section on Jessie Taft. There was no index. One of the books I needed was missing. I had wasted an hour trying to get a laptop to connect to the internet. Some selfish student, probably one of the same ones who thinks that underlining library books in pen is an acceptable activity, had stolen or secreted it away for his or her exclusive use. The librarians at the circulation desk did not have the common courtesy to tell students borrowing laptops that the internet was down or even to put up a sign. I was sufficiently angry that I saw stars.
I took my coffee out to the nearest designated smoking area and flounced down on a bench. Partway into the cigarette, I realized that I was thinking 'I need to finish my research! My research is being compromised by the incompetence of others!'
It occurred to me that I was acting in a manner more traditional to dramatic sopranos than philosophy students. This made me laugh. I could just see myself giving the librarians a dressing down in a grand Wagnerian style. Thus, histrionic scholar syndrome was born.
I felt much better after that, although I still haven't figured out what to do about that lost book.
The book in question, pictured at right
It's lovely in a detached way. It's detached because it's universal and uncritical. Sometimes I think that it is the eros of which Plato speaks. It does feel more like a close intimation of an eternal form than like an affection of my accidental qualities.
Isn't that phrase wonderful? Accidental qualities: except that they're so often seen as in some way essential to an existent self - these days, at least. I do wonder. Are they? There is such a long tradition of arguing that they are not.
What was I rambling towards? Oh yes, the blithery-ness. I feel so odd that I think I might give myself the day off tomorrow. I'm not sure that that is the greatest of ideas but I think I might need it. I had a bit of an upset last night, which brought up a host of confusing feelings. Has anybody out there read 'This Side of Paridise'? I'm feeling a great affinity to Eleanor again. Wet hens having great clarity of mind, and all that.
I would like to actually do something.
The thesis is trundling along, now a week behind schedule. I want very much to put up my post about it but I haven't sufficient remaining concentration to do more than copy and paste about it. I can't do that because I have two journals I want to submit it to for publication and if I do so, then it must be previously unpublished. I'm not sure how much a personal blog counts as far as that but I'd rather not give myself the temptation to prevaricate about it or run the risk of harming my reputation.
The idea of 'run the risk' has its own verb in Greek: κινδυνεύω (kin-dune-ewo). Then there's λανθάνω (lanthano) which is to escape the notice of someone. There's another verb dedicated entirely to the idea of arriving ahead of another person: φθάνω (phthano). Such very specific verbs.
I suppose that last paragraph is not great evidence of my realization that this blog is not a Greek class. It is good evidence of my rambling state of mind. It is likely that I will carry on putting up miniature Greek lessons until someone tells me I'm being obnoxious or pretentious, which I may very well be being. (Be being: what is that? The subjunctive present participle? Odd.) The reason I keep harping on the Greek of things, though, is because I love the Greek.
Well, well. It is an hour later than I thought and high time I went to bed. Wish me luck on feeling a little more human tomorrow.
21 February 2009
Oh people. Popule. What does it even matter whether there exists a projector for powerpoint presentations? It's about to be Lent and spring and snow all at the same time. The snow drops on the east side of campus have bloomed inside the ivy and I counted twenty-two robins when I was having a cigarette between classes yesterday. Tomorrow, I'm going to a wedding. The next time I turn around, it'll be sundress weather again.
Of course, it'll snow at least twice after the first week of warm weather, but never mind.
14 February 2009
However, this is a blog and not a classics course (I hear readers saying 'really? she finally figured that out?') so I am going to ignore the fact that thesis comes from τίθημι and stick with thesisizing. This is not only because I have forgotten how to form the infinitive with -mi verbs but also because τίθημι has caused me many sleepless hours with its tricky ways and resemblances to ἵημι, the only verb more annoying than τίθημι.
Here endeth the rant.
I like baking. It's a great stress reliever to me, like reading cookbooks when I feel overwhelmed. In cookbooks, no one gets married or applies to grad school or dies and the worst possible outcome is feeling hungry or inspired to make a nice meal for a change.
I have two dinky little springform tins that are a mere 4 inches/10cm in diameter. I use them when I'm feeling a bit dainty and girly to make my cake for my studytime tea or coffee breaks. Usually I put them on little dessert plates and ice them or make a design in powdered sugar but I don't think that will work this time. I seem to have accidentally made giant muffins instead of cakes. Here is their portrait:
Any decorating ideas? The last several times I've baked with these I filled them to about the same level as I did this time but this is the first time that they have burst forth in this manner. Oh dear. I was very amused when I opened the oven door.
Wish me luck with the thesisizing! I need it.
13 February 2009
12 February 2009
Occasionally, the old flock of magpies swoops down and squawks, reminding me of "the sixteen things I have left undone that must be done this very minute or the world will end" or "the eighty-seven unforgivable things you did before the age of six that mean you ought to lie down and eat dirt". They were so thick and fast when they came, at last, and more and more and more, but now they come mostly in two's.
There are so many Very Important for the Future tasks I must complete this month and I don't know why I'm not lying in bed, unwashed and fearful. Bizarrely, I am getting more exercise than I have in years, sleeping and keeping up or almost up with everything I'm supposed to do. I keep taking showers and getting dressed in the morning in clothes that are starting to be a little big for me.
It is unutterably strange.
It feels vaguely immoral.
It feels fantastic.
08 February 2009
My only excuse is having been busier than I have been in a year. This is not going to be much of a post; I'm just trying to keep my hand in and not get to far off the habit of posting.
It has been quite a week. After the disaster that was last weekend and Tuesday (panic attack, then hungover on klonopin, then waking up dizzy and ill for no apparent reason on Tuesday and missing classes) I realized that something had to go. I'm glad that I tried to do all of the things I was trying to do but I can't quite do them all. Wednesday night I sat down and tried to decide what to drop. I have to keep all my silly general education courses because otherwise I can't graduate. I'm not going to drop church choir because we're about to get into the Lent and then Easter time of year - the really interesting music time of year - and I wasn't willing to let go of Spanish and the social justice committee. I can't stop working at the gallery. Working there just about saved my life this summer and gave me enough confidence to go back to school; besides, I'm involved in so many worthwhile projects there that it feels immoral to walk away.
There remained only one option. I added up all the hours I spent on non-school things and all the hours I spent on Greek and found that while I spend approximately eleven hours on church and the gallery, I spend seven hours doing homework for Greek and three hours in the actual class. If I dropped Greek, I would cut the amount of time I spent on non-essential school things in half.
So now, sadly, I am no longer studying Homer. I am sorry about it but all of the sudden I felt a thousand times better and I know it was the right thing to do. No sense in running myself into the ground, even for Homer.
It's hard for me to make these decisions. I don't like to let people down so I usually postpone it until I can't do anything at all anymore so that I won't have to feel guilty about it. Of course, this is not the best way to handle things nor does it really stop me from feeling guilty. On the one hand, I have no problem admitting that I have bipolar disorder and that it stops me from being able to do things I want to do sometimes. On the other, I have a hard time accepting this in a day to day fashion. Discerning what it is that I'm doing now that will have a bad effect in the future and then following through by choosing not to carry on doing it anyway is not easy for me. I'm pleased that I've done it this time.
04 February 2009
I am enjoying mine by drinking many cups of tea and working on the conference paper and the senior thesis and memorizing the first seven lines of the Iliad.
μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,
πολλὰς δ᾽ ἰφθίμους ψυχὰς Ἄϊδι προΐαψεν
ἡρώων, αὐτοὺς δὲ ἑλώρια τεῦχε κύνεσσιν
οἰωνοῖσί τε πᾶσι, Διὸς δ᾽ ἐτελείετο βουλή,
ἐξ οὗ δὴ τὰ πρῶτα διαστήτην ἐρίσαντε
Ἀτρεΐδης τε ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν καὶ δῖος Ἀχιλλεύς.*
(I'm really surprised it stayed in Greek)
As of Friday, I will already be a quarter of the way through the semester. I can hardly believe it. Soon it will be spring break and I'll get to drag out the sundresses from under the bed. By the time spring break comes, I'll be waiting for acceptance/rejection letters from grad schools. I will have finished my thesis and be preparing a presentation form of it. I'll be waiting to hear from two other conferences.
Thinking about this is nice but then my mind pops back to today and I think, how will I ever squeeze out enough time to do all that? It's a good question. I can't even find the energy or concentration to clean up the house.
Then again I can think back five weeks and remember how overwhelmed I was at the mere idea of going to school. I was sure I'd give up in the second week. I was very down from having been at my parents and couldn't keep up with some extremely basic things, too embarrassing to detail here. Now I am at least more or less on top of the day to day homework and I look presentable on a daily basis, something I would not have been able to forsee myself doing. Perhaps I'm in the same boat now, unable to see how I will do what I need to do but about to do it all the same.
I hope so.
*copied and pasted from the Perseus Project