Monday, May 16, 1983

The social moment

I stayed in last night with the vague intention of working, but as it was, Gareth, Shawn and Stu and I got stoned in my room. I was pretty well gone when everyone else came back from the pub: in the kitchen later I couldn’t do a thing for laughing at our ridiculous conversations.

Later, I was driven nearly out of my mind by an unbearable nagging rheumatoid ache in the joint of my right arm. It came on in the early hours as I sat about with Stu and Barry. I didn’t know what to do with myself, nor what to do about my 2.30 pm seminar as I’d had perhaps half-an-hour’s sleep all night and would’ve liked nothing better than to climb back into bed.

I went to the seminar anyway, figuring the consequences of missing would be worse than a potentially embarrassing appearance, so at eight-thirty, after giving up on real sleep, I got dressed and grabbed a few fitful snatches of unconsciousness on my bed. Gareth came round at ten to say goodbye as he was off home & Graeme dropped round with his notes after his seminar finished.

I had a couple of hours to read them through before setting off. Just before I did so the clouds grew dark and thunder shuddered across the sky and the rain came down in a great torrent, hurling itself at the ground. Lightning blinked an intense white before the clouds lifted and it got brighter. I walked to my seminar with Susie.

I didn’t say much. I made one comment about Marcus Garvey, suggesting his muddled and ill-defined economic and political theory wasn’t as important as the inspirational quality of his Black Nationalist ideas: big thoughts for someone who hadn’t even done the reading! The (white) tutor said that this was an idealistic view and that black pride could only go so far. There was a derisive snort from the black bloke opposite me.

Immediately after the seminar ended I went to see Miriam about my essays. She was in quite a cheery mood and I told her I was interested in the idea of Whitman’s Yea-saying intensity of experience, Blake’s visionary, child-like innocence and “cleaning of the doors of perception” to achieve a daily intensity, Dickinson’s isolation and Thoreau’s flirtation with solitary Poetic existence.

She said she wanted to guide me towards the “social moment” and the historical and social forces that operated in these writers’ societies and how that affected their particular vision. “Could these writers earn a living writing in their society? What other means of earning a living did Emerson, Thoreau and the other writers you’ve mentioned have?” She prodded me towards a more social and politically-related perspective and said she would give me a reading list to help with my research. I left her office enthusiastically promising her two essays for a week on Thursday, saying that one of them would be “quite long.”

I got another parcel this morning that contained a book on the US that Dad picked up for 5p at a library sale. He also enclosed a copy of the Yorkshire Post sports supplement and an amusing fifteen-side letter, full mainly of football and amphibian-related affairs.

Nothing much doing this evening. Rowan got back after spending the weekend at home and I went out to Westway Loop with the usual gang. I had one drink and we returned to mess about and smoke a bit of dope.

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