28 October 2009

Overwhelmed and Omphaloskeptic

There are too many things going on! I'm not sure that's really a complaint, as I quite like most of the things. However, they are myriad.

On the things I quite like side are parties; Monday night philosophy drinking; my new armchair that I lugged home in the box from Ikea over one bus route, the Overground and the Underground*, which was a rather painful thing to do but more than compensated for by having someplace to sit that isn't the floor or my bed; a new addition to my collection of favorite philosophy quips**; reading Tristram Shandy and its heroic 18th century punctuation - can't think why I haven't read it before nor why we no longer punctuate like that; all the arguments I've been able to make about infinite regress and infinites by addition; being back in London; the shocking - to me - way I've made friends so quickly and effortlessly; the general thrill of studying interesting things; seeing old friends that I haven't seen for years; reading the Guardian; my new shoes; having a clothes rail and hangers and my newsagent.

On the things that are not things that I like side very much are plumbing faults; owing medium to large amounts of money to various institutions; not having very much money to pay said institutions with and also buy food; that it takes four to six weeks for overseas cheques to clear and mine has been sitting in the bank for four weeks and still hasn't cleared; the reaction of various Anglicans to the Pope's recent announcement; the fact that somehow Rousseau's concept of the general will has gotten stuck in my head in the manner of an annoying song***; the fact that there is so much going on that I seem to miss at least half of it; that my feet hurt so much and so often and with such minimal provocation; the way this overwhelmed-ness makes my head too swimmy to concentrate and think properly; Boris Johnson; the way my hair hasn't gotten used to the hard water yet and sticks up in strange and disturbing ways in the morning; being tired all the time still and a very annoying virus/cold/cough thing that has been plaguing me for a week without actually making me properly ill or allowing me to be properly well****.

Things that I may or may not like (just not sure yet) side are the post-lecture drinking with the professors on Wednesdays because it makes me very nervous but the conversation is good; my inability to feel any emotion, positive or negative, about the ex-girlfriend which is a relief but does not bode well; the amount of Hackney Marshes closed off for development for the Olympics, which development may or may not be a good thing in the end*****; a weird crush I've developed on a new-friend girl at university that is not really a crush but something in between (and therefore not holy, see fourth footnote) that makes me uneasy and implies subtle and delicately strange things about myself and my ethical convictions; the unpredictable bursts of high-burning glittering bliss that might be the early warnings of hypomania - enjoyable when they occur but worrying afterwords and the way this post has footnotes with footnotes.

The world is all the things that are the case, and so it follows that this is the world I'm in for now******.

*I feel very boring though to be buying furniture from the Ikea. Why did I lug it home? Please see paragraph three, thing I don't like number four.
** "That's not a counter-example, it's a monster." Imre Lakatos
***I wouldn't have thought that philosophical concepts were capable of this but it seems to have happened anyway.
****This virus is a thing partway between being and not being and is therefore not holy (Please see De divina omnipotentia++, a letter written by St. Peter Damian to Pope Gregory. Peter Damian was also in charge of reforming cannon law and is responsible for the formalisation of the law concerning priestly celibacy {somehow, the Catholic Church made it through 1,000 years without actually requiring it} and the regularisation of cannon law concerning homosexual behavior {I know we think of it as identity and not act now generally but it would be inaccurate to say that Damian condemned homosexuality itself rather than homosexual acts} that has led to the modern Catholic condemnation of homosexuality via Aquinas' natural law theory and thus forward to the present day to one of the things I dislike in paragraph three. These later accomplishments and the reasons behind them are discussed in Damian's Liber Gomorrhianus, which is a very interesting read. Impressing pagans is part of the reasoning behind the celibacy dogma and the restriction of the priesthood to men and priestly duties with regard to hearing confession are behind the condemnation of homosexual acts.
*****It was a great thing for my childhood stomping ground, Atlanta, but then look at Calgary - hard to predict.
******Blatantly stolen from the beginning of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

++ De divina is found in vol. 6 of Damian's Opera Omnia, if memory serves. It's definitely in the Opera Omnia but it might not be vol. 6.

16 October 2009

Feminist Quasi-Rant With a Cheerful Postlude

It has been easy for me to forget what a male dominated academic discipline philosophy is but I can't help noticing just now. Out of all my set texts for all of my seminars, none were written or edited by a woman. Only two out of the fourteen professors in the department are women. In my philosophy of science seminar, I am the only woman. In my further logic seminar, I am one of two women. In my political philosophy seminar, I am one of three women. In my moral philosophy seminar, I am one of five women. Each of these seminars has fifteen people, so in the one with the largest number of women, we still make up only one third of the group. All of this at a university where women outnumber men when the university population is considered in its entirety (53% female, 47% male).

Added to that, there is a man in his mid-forties in philosophy of science who has gone out of his way to tell me what seminars I should be taking instead of philosophy of science and further logic. Apparently, philosophy of science is so specialised and jargon laden that it will be too hard for me to join in and it does not seem to matter how many times I explain to him that I have yet to find any jargon I am not already familiar with in the reading and that I have a prior acquaintance with several of the set texts. I am a philosopher and therefore acquainted with philosophy. Philosophy of science is a subset of philosophy and I am, therefore, sufficiently qualified to study philosophy of science. It is not as though I am trying to teach it!

During undergrad, nine of the ten people in the philosophy department in my year were women, which is unusual but is what I am used to, so all this is a bit of a shock to the system. I don't want to be unfair to my new university: the professors for philosophy of science and further logic are very clearly supportive of my being in there and two very nice PhD students (one who is in phil of sci and logic with me, the other of whom is in phil of sci and public policy) have been very encouraging and supportive, so it is not as though I am suddenly staring down the establishment all alone. Nevertheless, it has all been rather jarring.

I am having a fabulous time though, spending hours each day talking about philosophy and art and politics, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. I thought that I would enjoy being here, I just never thought that I would be quite this happy quite this soon. No objections on my part to that. I didn't think I'd make friends this easily either but lo and behold, I have a party invite for tomorrow night and a date to see the Turner Prize show at the Tate. I don't know what's happened to my life but I like it.

11 October 2009

Happy Ordinary Sunday

My newsagent just asked me whether I was a poet. Apparently, he thinks I look like one. I think that this is one of the nicest mistakes anyone has ever made about me. I like the idea that someone could mistake me for a poet. Between that, finding a good neighborhood church and the weekend newspapers, I'm having one of the nicest days I've had since I got to London.

09 October 2009

Ah, the Joy of my Very Own Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband Stick-Thing


I am now the happy possessor of a flat of my own in east London, a travelcard, a phone, an NUS card, an interesting seminar schedule, various library cards, a minimally sufficient amount of furniture, and some new friends. Now I just need a bank account (actually harder to get than a visa, believe it or not: UKBA should take lessons) and an iron and I'll be all set.

And some sleep - I can't remember the last time I was this exhausted.