taking comfort from history

"For historians of my generation and background, the past is indestructible, not only because we belong to the generation when streets and public places were still called after public men and events, when peace treaties were signed and therefore had to be identified and war memorials recalled yesterdays, but because public events are part of the texture of our lives. They are not merely markers in our private lives, but what has formed our lives, private and public. For this author the 30 January 1933 is not simply an otherwise arbitrary date when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, but a winter afternoon in Berlin when a fiftenn-year-old and his younger sister were on the way home from their neighbouring. schools in Wilmersdorf to Halensee and, somewhere along the way, saw the headline. I can see it still, as in a dream. "

(Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes)

I borrowed another thick book from a student of international relations but i'm glad it's more a nice sentimental, personal review of 20th century history than an objective but dry one. i know, it's dangerous. Hobsbawm is probably one of the few surviving marxist historians and I think it is compelling reading someone who was proven "wrong". There was to be no utopia and *prffft* there you go the bubbles burst. how do you carry on?

to be fair to him, he took it on the chin.

but, if you were patient enough to look through the stupid historical bits, you would actually reach this paragraph. (dear imaginary reader). have you heard the one about the irritating smoker with low self esteem. (don't think so, i came up with it).
"if she can't even stand second-hand smoke, how is she going to stand me?"

i ended the week utterly grouchy. for a while in class i was mildly entertained, but my head was swimming with thoughts of what i ought to do. (what i ought to do in the summer, what i ought to do this winter, what i ought to do over the weekend). mind you, i was far from busy. but i was busy from thinking of all the possibilities that i wasn't able to quiet down and get something done. i went for dinner with chan lek and was utterly grouchy still, and earlier in the day someone had to tell me not to look so fierce.

i'd probably done too much work/thinking about my future over the past week. so it was not with much hesitation that i agreed to go for "a drink or 2". we tried finishing all the bars in lse, the three tuns, beaver's retreat, king george's and ye olde tavern, unfortunately the last one didn't allow students. there i was gamely trying to drink and flicking cigarettes and playing dumb games like "thumbmaster", realising that someone's grandfather was a major general in the long march (see! history again!). good. friday night. to think i was going to get books from the library until i got sidelined.

unfortunately because i'm usually smart enough not to get mind-numbingly drunk, i still think a lot. when we were talking about all the 250 "cheng yu" we had to memorise for school, the theme song of the unbeatables... many things came back. i am not an expert in stating the obvious but drama serials don't have the same appeal to me anymore and i can remember most of the 250 cheng yus still, but what i actually did in chinese lessons is slowly fading away (probably never was there in the first place).

and that's really what it is! everyone around me (including myself) is rushing headlong into adulthood. no, we're there already! internships, careers, crazy trips to africa. talking about bartering future earnings for current consumption. it's time to do everything we can because we are finally adults and we are going to run out of time and die. oh no! decisions, choices. winning people's respect. fighting for love and first place, or the right to marry rich husbands (rich wives, i think girls are so gonna outearn me as i see one after another join lucrative investment banks at such a tender age)

the one key thing about adulthood is that you have to stop missing your childhood. that messes you up. and it's really childish and wimpy. do something already! it feeds itself. it's like reading "the little prince" and realising you're now the one being mocked and "adults" aren't the common enemy any more.

part of me is hopelessly out-of-sync. it says : "ohmygod complexnumbers soexciting. i to the power i is an infinite set of reals!" never mind that the maths geniuses who shared the same class as me in secondary school are in phat schools doing crazier maths than will ever fit into my puny brain. i'm actually excited because i didn't give a hoot about it until recently and it's actually "all-new" to me. oh well, i tried one thing when i was younger (thinking that everything school thought me was BAD, EVIL and UNINTERESTING except for the occasional subversive literature lesson and most of geography), and everything i read on my own was GOOD and NICE. and thought, why not try liking what you do for a change. Although, most likely, it turns out that what they are teaching now IS more INTERESTING, and you do appreciate the crazy shit singaporean mathematics helps you with now that you're kicking ass. (our textbooks end up in buenos aires, argentina!) yes that is very out-of-sync, i have better real-life things to concentrate on but am going to ignore.

so i wouldn't say all this, except that i was a bit woozy and i thought, "be honest". say what you have to say from time to time, let it out, sympathy is a bonus. listen to silly love songs. the next day after sleeping a grand total of 4 hours (ok lah, quite a lot already) i woke up ready to kick butt. That reminds me of Emile Cou�, who in the 1920s, was the psychologist who pioneered the lovely wake-up everyday to feel great phrase : "Every day in every way I am getting better and better." I played so well everyone cowered and ran away from me when I got the ball, which made scoring even easier. swept one into the top corner after one-twos (my favourite), placed one in the bottom left, poked one through a crowd of players (like ronaldinho, but i wasn't facing chelsea), ran onto a through ball and poked it in off the post. not counting the million others i shot straight at the keeper or hit both sides of the post with. i forgot what it was to play with such abandon, granted there was more space to day but i guess i just didn't give a fuck today, and yes, i did make a few joe cole passes across the back of my defence giving the ball away in a sucky position but i DON'T CARE. (HAH. modesty. that's an ancient value. i'm an adult now!)

So it doesn't matter that history is like a whale coming up for air while it blissfully forgets for the rest of the time that it ever needed it. (I say this because a whale got lost and got blown/swam inside the Thames and was spotted near the House of Commons). What sweet air! Like the Beaver columnist who doesn't want to think about a job, not just yet, like the CEO of the hedge fund who spent 8 years after school not knowing what to do (and finally decided fuck it, why don't we join morgan stanley and earn millions. it is quite fun after all.) i can't play computer games any more. my guilt won't let me. aren't you proud i'm so grown up now? *beam*. now to brush my teeth 3 times a day, and floss. after all, if no one will take care of me, (yes, you, brush my teeth for me. not so hard... i have a bit of chicken behind my premolars *mmrmph), i have to put everything together and continue. i just hope it all counts in the end. there's nothing like a bubble being burst, ask hobsbawm.

1 comment:

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