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Friday, March 23, 2001
 
[Slander] is so amazing. I want to be just like her when I grow up (heh), able to articulate my uneasiness with things, to think things through, but most importantly, to have a strong sense of what I believe. In a recent entry, she recalls the recurrence of "warring internal dialogues about academic culture." She definitely is able to see how she is at odds with her department, the academic work of her program, etc. -- and yet is able to take those points of opposition in the stride of what she sees as her project in pursuing a doctorate and a teaching / academic life. (To keep as references when I need to think things through: [political subject] and [academia sucks]. Note to self: Slander has explicitly said she is "completely impatient with literary criticism" -- wonder what she means, if she in fact finds literary criticism to be a pointless project, something not worth pursuing. I guess importantly I wonder how she defines "literary criticism.")
Was going to note here that my mood has taken a dive this week. Not sure why. At the suggestion of my friend F, am trying to remember if there are particular things that cause my periods of apathy and depression. I'm not sure if I lose faith in myself because of things that happen to me or whether I lose direction because of something more physiological. Of course, it's probably a combination of the two. In any case, I haven't really been able to figure things out. This journal as an archive will provide some basis for discovering possible patterns or cycles. I know that usually right before my down states I go through a period of extreme irritability and anti-social feelings.

In any case, now off to dinner for prospective students at a professor's house. Time to put on a happy, social face. And this is the thing, just because I'm feeling down doesn't mean I can't and don't go to social events. I can still schmooze, hang out, chat, laugh. But I remain detached, as if my mind is split in two -- one taking care of the immediate interactions with people, the other sitting inside, brooding alone.

I wish there were an easy solution to feelings of disconnection, isolation, alienation.

There is something very peaceful about my closed carrel up on the seventh floor of the library. I have a view of the street, cars and buses constantly passing by. The muffled sounds from the street are very soothing, backed by the almost inaudible blowing of wind against and through the buildings walls, crevices, angles. I can sit there on a sunny day and just relax, soaking in the light and the quiet. Seeing the world go by below, calm and not hectic at a distance.

Lately I've been noticing that people talk about me. It's a strange feeling because I don't think I've generally been in social situations enough or in contact with other people so as to generate material for gossip. And not necessarily gossip in a negative sense, but just talk about what I am doing, what I am planning, what I said to someone else. Conversations now start out with, "I heard you were going to be away in the spring" or "what are you writing your paper on for the [conference]?" when I hadn't told these particular people my plans. I'm still not quite sure what to make of this observation. It's not a bad thing that people are finding out things about me indirectly (and what about this blog journal? many people who don't speak or write to me directly know things about my thoughts, my life, my plans). But I guess I am still a novice at negotiating a social world, the knowledge that circulates in it, etc. I only know how to think about and interact with others directly, through one-to-one conversations, e-mail exchanges, etc.

Maybe it's time I begin to make myself comfortable with other ways of communicating: talking in class, talking in groups at bars, and so on.

Throat sore from shouting in a bar and restaurant last night. How people can do this every week is beyond me. Just the volume in these places could drive me insane. Talked to a handful of prospective students and happy hour and over dinner, though. Strange to see them as a graduate student when I can still clearly remember being a prospective last year around this time. I found myself asking questions and giving answers in much the same way the students I talked to last year did. It's a constant cycle, I guess. Around and around and around . . . It'll be interesting to see who ends up here next year and what they are like.
Thursday, March 22, 2001
 
Last night I almost stepped on a possum. It was sitting on the steps outside Duke Chapel, huddled against the wall. I didn't see it until I had passed it. Then, turning around, I saw this rather large creature sitting on the bottom step, apparently unaware that I had just planted me shoes right next to it. Unaware, or unconcerned. I continued to watch it as I ascended the steps. It didn't move.

I was at Duke last night for a performance by Patricia J. Williams ("Diary of a Mad Law Professor") and Oliver Lake. They are working on a piece called "Skin." I don't know how much the piece worked as a conceptual whole for me. I liked the content of Williams's spoken-word material. Ruminations on pre-millenial-turn anxiety and the invisibility of racial force in institutional and disciplinary structures (one focus was the Human Genome Project, science, eugenics, etc.). Lake's saxophone/flute playing was very interesting. I'm not much of a music person, but I could definitely feel/see/understand one aspect of his playing as embodying stifled voices, pained expressions.

And this morning, waking up and getting up was like prying myself off the bed. Gravity was insistent. My body a dead weight on the yielding surface of the mattress.

Wednesday, March 21, 2001
 
It's a curl-up-in-bed-with-a-cup-of-tea day. But I'm stuck here on campus until late afternoon.
Tuesday, March 20, 2001
 
Thought for the end of a day:

Communication seems to me a very important part of what it means to live. Of course, successful communication is necessary for us to live as social beings, to negotiate each others' needs, desires, actions. But on another level, the very act of communication seems to be tied to a sense of validation. Communication requires reaching out and receiving, transmitting a message and reading or interpreting one. Each step, each aspect of communication is messy, full of possibilities and alternatives. And each aspect seems also always incomplete, perhaps because the possibilities are endless.

Not very coherent, this, but just reflecting a bit on the state of sociality, on the ways the Internet facilitates communication in some ways, hinders in others. On the different material, sensorial presences of communication media. And part of it all, perhaps, reminded of that movie/novel Contact -- the desire to reach out to the stars, to speak to other "intelligent" beings . . .

G'night. Sleep tight. Happy dreams.

Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another day

Got a closed carrel in [the library] today. Smells kind of funny in there, perhaps musty from lack of use. The floor was scattered with the dried carcasses of flies. I hope there isn't something particularly toxic in the little room.

Have spent most of the day moving from desk to desk, room to room, building to building. Keep trying to find that spot where I can do some reading, but nowhere seems to fit today. A strange sense of dislocation, my mind neither here nor there. Maybe it's all the caffeine I've been taking in lately.


I wish the phone would ring
-- Exposé

Except in my case, I also wish my alarm clock would ring, or beep, or make whatever noise it does, whatever it's called. I must have not turned on the alarm clock last night, although I know I fiddled with the buttons and switches. I woke up this morning, thought it looked rather light out, looked at the clock, and realized it was fifteen minutes after the time I had set for the alarm. I think there might have been times I've actually turned the alarm clock off without being aware of it, but I don't think today was one of those times. I wasn't that tired. Like I've said before, one of these days, I'll have to go read up on sleep and dream research. The idea of a circadian rhythm is fascinating, too. Aside from light and sound cues, how do our bodies know when we've had "enough" sleep? I know I could sleep indefinitely, so maybe my rhythm is broken. Morpheus, I'd like a refund, please.
Monday, March 19, 2001
 
[Does it quack?]

[Shyaku] writes, "As much as I hate it, I've found myself trapped in the stereotype of the gay male blogger." I guess there's often this impulse not to want to be easily categorized, easily described. Being told who you are has this strange sense of delimiting you, of circumscribing you and therefore in some odd way supposedly mastering you. As long as some aspect of you remains mysterious, hidden, or not-understood, you have a way of slipping away from that conceptual grasping.

Stereotypes are particularly nervousness-inducing categorizations because they lay such broad strokes of definition. Listing certain attributes thereby describes the stereotyped in its totality. And that's where the problem comes in, when we take stereotypes as indications of the totality of a person or thing rather than as common points in additionto the specifics of that person or thing. And so perhaps many of us might fall into the stereotypical gay male blogger profile, but that profile hardly says anything about what we write about, how we approach our writing on an individual level, who reads our writing, and how they do or don't establish relationships with us. In any case, I am trying to understand the difficulties of stereotyping, what we can do to combat them without capitulating to their work of dehumanizing, limiting, objectifying.

. . . back to the daily grind . . .

At least one of my classes has been cancelled for today. I wish I had checked my e-mail last night, though, so I would've known to save my $6 by parking in the commuter lot instead of the city lot. Oh well. I'll have an hour off to wander about campus. Or to study diligently.

Where can I find a good cup of coffee in this town? I bought two cups of coffee this morning, and neither has been very good. Am I actually developing a discerning taste for coffee? Or are my taste buds just uncooperative today?

Sunday, March 18, 2001
 
Ah, finally a beautiful day outside. The kind that calls to you through drawn blinds with warm rays of sunlight: Come out and play! I think I'll go take a walk. I would read outside except I lost my sunglasses and it's difficult to read off stark white pages in direct sunlight. *Squint*
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