Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cain, My Brother.

9:29 PM Posted by Patrick 5 comments
It is not easy for me to form new habits and disciplines; it  simply does not come naturally, and it requires some considerable conscious effort. Even if, however, I do apply myself to establishing a new discipline, that I will succeed is far from certain. To put it simply, no matter how determined I am to see it through, often I just forget, and so my good intentions seldom make it to the habit stage.

Thankfully, this same forgetfulness, combined with a desire for variety in my activities, has also kept me free from many bad, time wasting, habits. I might occasionally binge on video games or internet, but that can be followed by weeks of fast, virtually unbroken; mostly because, I believe, those things just lose their novelty too quickly. Indeed, one of my habits, which might most be considered a time suck, is walking. It is not however, while it is my mechanism for collecting my thoughts and bringing them into some semblance of order. That, accompanied with the relative tranquility, are necessary to my continued sanity, and subsequently, the health of the populace for some distance in every direction.

Although it is nice, and pleasant, and good, and all that rot, that I should not have many entrenched bad habits, the difficulties with forming new positive behaviors kind of balances things out.

I have found one aid in forming new habits: ritual. I recently discovered--through a discovery on the correlation between the regular placement of my things and whether they go with me in the morning--that I am better at establishing new patterns if I get the details exactly so.

For example: my new morning ritual. My alarm goes off at 6:15, I snooze the impudent little tosser. He goes off again at 6:20, I snooze him again, but get up before he can make that horrid noise again. There are half a dozen boring steps in the ritual which follows, but they are fairly specific. For example, I drink my coffee--or drank my coffee--from one of my two union jack mugs.

Another peculiar thing about me; I get very attached to the items which I use every day. Defiling my watch, my bag, my schooz, my ring, my suits, my knife, or my most sacrosanct coffee mugs is a serious thing. Yes, a thing--English has no word for it. These are the items consecrated to my daily ritual, the loss or destruction of which might cast the destroyer/loser from the thoroughfares of righteous good health onto the train-tracks of mortal peril.

It is inconceivable that someone would destroy one of my things; it simply does not register.

Which is probably why Andrew is still alive.

Mutti came into the room this evening--Andrew had found it prudent to hide while I received the news--and told me that Dogmeat had destroyed one of my England mugs: Shattered it on the floor, almost certainly maliciously. Happily, the other mug was not in his reach at the time, or his vile plot might have been complete. Nonetheless, I am going to have to guard the other mug jealously, lest he decide to break that one too, and force a change in my morning ritual...not to mention take out an object to which I am absurdly attached.

That he would offend against my person in such a way simply had not crossed my mind until now. The little Bakunin thinks he is being creative; I think, if that is his style, that I can be more creative than he, oh yes, I will paint a mural to his sketch.

The salt tears of his women will nourish the fruits of my revenge...if he breaks my other mug, that is.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Week Two: In Progress.

5:44 PM Posted by Patrick 1 comment
I have slipped into a new routine since the beginning of the semester. I get up early every morning, entirely too early to be decent, drive up to campus, and knock out an enormous amount of homework. There are few drawbacks to this plan; it has cut back greatly on my black-hole time and eliminated some stress.

Unfortunately, I am spending 4 mornings a week solely on homework, and goodness knows a solid chunk besides in my evenings and between classes. Nonetheless, I am just managing to get my basic, weekly, homework assignments done in a manner satisfactory to me. Granted, I have already started to put some work in on my senior seminar, but the fact remains that the major assignments for this semester have not yet hit. I can already tell that this one is going to be a bit of a wild ride...which I already kind of knew when I got into it.

I am going to have to concentrate on finding ways to do research faster than I have been accustomed to in previous semesters. I am going to have to forgo reading books in favour of reading sections of those same books; I simply will not have time to read entire texts for all of the papers this semester; there will be a bit more cherry-picking than I like, but since required readings this semester come to around 13 books, several of those in German, with additional readings besides, and since I have research papers outside my senior project, I do not see that I can avoid it.

And there lies the blessing and the curse of demanding professors. They demand that you force yourself to work on another level entirely; they keep you focused on--and engaged with--your task. Their attentions may also, however, be damaging to the garnering of a broader perspective, and the plain collection of knowledge for the sake of knowing. Where there is no time to learn, except for those things most closely related to the topic at hand, then the other interests must be sacrificed.

I will be writing about Austria this semester, particularly, the Austrian role in WWII and subsequent portrayal of Austrian victimhood. So many books, across which I have happened, describe Wien in almost rapturous terms; it is a perfect city of enlightenment, music, culture, diversity, and plenty. Austrian society itself, of course, has an easy hospitality not often equaled in barbarian nations. And yet, I have also read several books, which provide perspectives that are, ah, contrary. Rather, portraying Austria as a society still engaged in propagating a lie, and still suffering from a deep-seated sickness of the soul: repressed evil, Freud would be thrilled.

I want to figure out where the notions come from, why the allies codified them, and what--more or less--is the truth of the matter.

I wonder how many senior seminars they let one take? The next one is going to be on a topic in ancient or medieval history: tasty. I bet I could get it to count for an other world history, dontcha' think? Like, if it were about the Ottomans or Saracens. Ok, antiquity I could do something outside West Europe, I'll find something, damme!

Oh yes, and every so often, when the diligent student is supposed to be doing schoolwork, he instead decides it is time to post another entry on his long neglected blog. A waste of time? Mayhaps. But certainly good for safeguarding my sanity.

That is enough, I'll write something more interesting and less pitiful sounding next time, but this is what was on my mind for the time being.