Instead of a first lecture, we had a discussion, again led by Dr. Speck. It had something to do with the connections between education, questions, dialogue, and the past. Again, it was absolutely aggravating. I actually used the phrase "It's a metaphor" in anger, but Speck did agree that "just because it's cool" is a good reason. But apparently I'm not the only one he annoys. Maira had a reaction to one point for which she whined, quietly, "No, no." It was amusing. I like to know that I'm not suffering alone. (Maira still hasn't replaced her hair-sticks. She's wearing it fully down today. The strict academic lets her hair down...!)
But between the discussion and our next lecture, we came to the end of our jean caper! One of the notes last night included the instruction to go to the "secret garden" at 10:20am. So, of course, en masse, we all went to the walled garden on the South-East side of the college. There we found another note. It was around then that I started singing lines from The Phantom of the Opera, "Far too many notes for my taste...! And most of them about our jeans..."
This note was a little more creative than the others. It was written backwards, and in a spiral. "You have done well," it said. "Proceed to the next level. Go to the III staircase, second floor kitchen." So, of course, we did. Well, really, the girls went (and Noonie, still hoping to find her bracelet), and I just followed. I'm just here for documentation purposes.
And in the kitchen, there were jeans, on the floor, on the other side of the counter! The girls, of course, were thrilled, dancing around with their still slightly damp jeans. I'm not sure any money was at all paid. I think £1 was put in the sink, but I don't think anyone ever claimed it. So it was all rather... anticlimatic, really. All happened too soon, and... not much really happened. Disappointing, really.
But then again, Noonie hasn't gotten her bracelet back yet, so more of the caper could be yet to come.
And yes, Ms. Noonan has become "Noonie," Ms. Wallace has become "Wally," and Dr. Speck has become "Speckie," "D.S.," and a variety of other things... But anyway.
In other news, we had hot chocolate as well as coffee and cookies for our mid-morning break. It is possibly the best hot chocolate in the world. Makes for a great coffee mocha. And Noonie has informed me that, in my bright green sweater, I look like a skittle, which is somewhat endearing, I think. She says that she has pants that same color. So I suggested that she wear the pants, borrow my sweater, and then she can really be a skittle. All she needs is a little white "S" on her chest.
And then the morning's lecture! The only problem with morning lectures is that those two words should never be put together in the same sentence. We've been having problems with people staying awake during the morning lectures, so everyone now pairs up with what we call "sleeping buddies" -- someone to sit next to you and poke you if you start nodding off. Anna and I were sleeping buddies for each other this morning.
Our WWI lecturer guy was back for more, this time talking about foreign policy. Fun, fun. The sleeping buddies were a very good idea.
Programme Notebook Entry:
In Dr. David Robertson's lecture, "What is foreign policy?" we were presented with the many, many problems of foreign policy and international relations in general. What I find interesting about democracy, along with its many problems, is its obligation to represent everyone -- every member of that nation -- despite the fact that there might be a great range of opinions and beliefs in that country. When does the point come along that a part of the nation feels like it doesn't have a voice anymore? That's part of how the American Civil War started. I suppose it isn't possible to represent everyone. Anyone can be president, but not everyone's opinion can be accommodated.
What I took away from Roberts' lecture: if you are going to impose values on people, which values are you going to choose? And also, never get involved in someone else's Civil War. Ever. And pursuing self-interest rationally while leaving everyone else alone does so much less harm. So what are we doing in Iraq? No, of course college professors don't have agendas in their lectures. Anyway.
The two-week language programme for the "Italians" just ended. There were lots of tearful goodbyes the night before in various languages. So now we have new "Italians"! Very exciting. Who knows what the parties will be like now?
Lunch, and then the rest of the day spent in the computer lab, because, ohmygod, tutorials are tomorrow. But of course I wasn't alone. Jennie's practically living in the computer lab as well; we made polite conversation discussing language and synonyms and translation, and we determined that when you dream in a language, you have become fluent.
Jennie also has the possibiliy of a lucrative future as a tour-guide, for she was kind enough to show Brian and I where the bathrooms in the computer lab building are -- something unknown to me until now (and having to run all the way up to my room every time I've got to pee is no fun). The girl is a saint. Technically, the bathroom is in Italian territory, but when you have to go, you have to go.
My work on my paper has consisted of mainly going through all the post-it notes in my copies of The Philosopher's Alice and The Annotated Alice and trying to make sense of it all. My paper is actually two different papers, masquarading as a single paper dealing with both the symbolism of food in Alice and metaphysical questions of identity. Not that those two things are very clearly connected. Ugh.
I was occasionally distracted by e-mails from Anna, who was in one of the other computer labs. She has given me my first-ever nickname. Like, honestly a nickname, in that it's a shorter variation of my name given in affection. "Haylz," is how she's addressing me now. I like it. The "z" is a nice touch. I've always wanted a nickname.
When not being distracted by my fellow programmers, I was frantically looking for Martin Gardner's theory as to why Carroll uses food as such a common device in the Alice books. Mom said that she'd read it somewhere in The Annotated Alice, but I was having very little luck finding it. I skipped dinner. I skipped the dance class. In order to get the work done, you've got to miss out on some of the fun. For Nikki, it was Evensong at Christ Church. For me, it's the tango and the jive.
Jennie said that she had faith in me, though. "Don't worry," she said, always smiling. "You'll find it." And amazingly enough, I did (after some crafty work with Google and the search on the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon.com). I found my quote! "Are the many references to eating in Alice a sign of Carroll's 'oral aggression,' or did Carroll recognize that small children are obsessed by eating and like to read about it in their books?" (Gardner 9). Is that gold, or what? I was positively giddy. This is the joy of being an academic. If you're in academia and you don't find joy in things like that, you're in the wrong field, kid.
To make things even more wonderful, Matt's found Elizabeth Schuch's Shakespeare prints. I am so thrilled. I want to wall-paper my room in those prints. http://www.immortallongings.com/immorta
Due to a horde of us poor panicked children, the hours of the computer lab (i.e. The Oven -- "hot from all this brain-sweat," so says Brian) were extended, and I am happy to say that I was not the last one out! But they seriously need to get some air conditioning in there. About ten hours in the computer lab, and my iPod battery was goood enough to see me through. I'm infinitely grateful.
I finally accepted that my paper is really two papers. So I split it in half, taking the food symbolism for this week's paper and leaving the notes on metaphysical identity issues for next week, and called it a night. I don't exactly feel good about my tutorial essay, but it's something, and I'm on my way.
- Current Location:The Oven, St. Hugh's College, Oxford, UK
- Current Mood: relieved
- Current Music:Overture -- The Phantom of the Opera