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Monthly Archives: June 2006

While I’m not inclined to cut ties with anyone, those who spend the least effort in connecting with me is undeniably the logical place to start. I have recently been taking stock of MSN . You might treat it as the natural development of my rejection of facebook not so long ago. In essence, what I am beginning to notice, is that inspite the vast size of my contact list, that I only really use it to talk to a handful of people on a regular basis, a total of which might number about 6. In addition to this there are about another 5 people who I infrequently talk to as well. To the greatest part, with just one exclusion, they amount to Hong Kong people who I went to school with or knew otherwise. Of my grand list perhaps 2 to 3 people feel inclined to begin contact with me.

I find it interesting that the usage numbers are so low, because in fact I have about a hundred odd people on my contact list, the majority of whom somehow at somepoint I needed to talk to, but the reality of the situation is that while we may be on each others lists, there is very little chance that we will ever talk to each other again.

What I should do with my contact list? Should I trim it down, and start removing people to give me greater clarity and ease in finding the people that I actually want to talk to? Should I start organizing by groups and hive of this elite batch so that I can focus on them to the exclusion of the others? And is this the right thing to do in the first place? Should I not be trying to talk to the people who I interacted with previously and renew our communications?

The last of the list above is particularly invidious as it sounds so benign and good, yet I know that in fact I have very little to say to these people and that our conversations usually are composed of inane banter and polite formalities, that do nothing but waste each other’s time as we have no interest in each other and apparently little common interest. Afterall some of these people have been on my contact list for nearly half a decade, yet I can recall only sharing perhaps a dozen words with them, and my history attests to the same frugality of conversation.

I think this is interesting because people do react to the size of your contact list, they think it somehow impressive that someone has a hundred, five hundred or a thousand contacts, that they must be more socially superior then suspected and that they must be multi facetedly involved in something to meet all these people. The fact of the matter is that most of them reflect history rather then the present and I’d rather not have false impressions conveyed.

Perhaps the time is nigh when my contact list will have to suffer a great purge that will leave me feeling happy with it. Those who wish to speak to me will always have my contact, and they’re obviously more then welcome, I just won’t be initiating contact with them anymore.

One of the oddest aspects of my stay in London has been the development of a growing attachment to the Radio both as entertainment and as an ideal. It became one of the great respites at Kings College Hall, and in subsequent places remained one of my main sources of relaxation and entertainment, displacing even the PC and TV in many instances, especially to listen to in the evenings while doing something else with my mind, or to casually spend time in contemplation of the wall in front of me and the world around it, tuning in and out of the program playing on the radio. Given my ambivalence towards music, you can perhaps understand why I struck out towards speech radio only, staying away from the myriad music stations to find something more to my taste.

The trial that Kings College Hall represented required that I adopt any alternate means of entertainment that was available. A TV was expensive and impractical, the internet meant leaving my sanctuary prison and having to be properly dressed to transverse the ill maintained grass of KCH to reach the Computer Room, a journey I was not inclined to undertake without sufficient reflection. I much preferred to do my computing at either the Maughan Library or to find one of the vast computer rooms at Waterloo, where I could find sufficient anonymity and space to beguile away the swathes of time that were evenings. I learned that I was a morning person, and that I needed evenings to be mine, so that I could slowly unwind from the day that had gone. Evenings could only disparately be the source of entertainment in their own right.

After the end of my first mid-sessional exams, the first exams as an undergraduate that I ever took, though it was, like so many other exams before it, without effect nor consequence and was to be taken into account by no one, least of all me, that I decided to buy a radio on the way home. It is strange what events you can remember vividly.

It was a move borne of the silent desperation for noise, the understanding that while people could not be tolerated in concentrated doses, silence ringing unceasingly in the ear could disconcert and disorient in an even more profound way. The voice in my head was being taxed too harshly by my constant demands on it, the strain had to be alleviated. In effect it was perhaps the recognition that three months of London and KCH had changed much beyond recognition and that old boundaries and assumptions would no longer suffice. A new edifice would have to be raised.

To gravitate as I did towards radio is not that surprising. Practical factors pushed me there, as I mentioned above, but somewhere at the back of my mind I have had great respect for the idea of radio institutionally. It ties well with my fetish for the word, usually written, but spoken word is not demeaned in anyway. The simplicity, the elegance, the ambiguity, all the character of words translates well into the radio. The radio has an elegance in its directness, the voice speaks to you and you hear it. There is no other layers, no body language you should have noticed, no subtle inflection, no hidden agenda that you were expected to discern. It is a communicative medium, without any of the flaws that sometime make human communication so problematic, but equally reduced in its ability to be sophisticated, nuanced and complex. It was precisely what one needs to wind down after a day or to gain enough information and news to make one aware of the coming day and what it held.

It is a beautiful medium, that should spread beyond its currently conceptually confined role of being for people in cars to listen to. I don’t think that its something that is likely to happen in our TV dominated culture, which has adopted whole heartedly the axiom that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that every one of the thousand words must be used to convey an image. I do not believe this is the case, and it is this that exposes the elegance of radio.

The reassuring voices of many stations made my stay at KCH bearable, and my time in London more enjoyable and practical. Perhaps this is a London only thing, in which case just as it was adopted there, it will be left behind there, the abysmal quality of Hong Kong radio being a factor that inclines me to not pursue it so vigorously here. Perhaps like many of the changes that London has woven into my existence it will be indelible and more permanent. Only time will tell.

With the dawn of June I have attained that exorbitant dose of freedom and perspective that opens up for all students. Days stretch out in front of you, a vista unparalleled in their possibilities and with a scale that inclines one to forget purpose and direction. The horizon is so vast and so open that to move in any direction makes no more likely the chance of success. It brings out a tendency to indecision and passivity that emphasises the eternal possibility by not making any decision until the following day. After all why cut off any of the choices of the next day by my actions today. Surely they should be kept open for as long as I can keep them so.

Into this ocean of eternal perspectives I’m trying to interject some of my order. There is a restlessness in my soul that is no longer satisfied with endless vistas. It prefers a direction into which I should go that has a direction more concrete then the inclination to follow the viscidities of fortune. Holidays are notorious for being exhilarating for the first week and interminable for the rest. And so to avoid this I will set myself some focus.

The theme of this year has, as all important things do, picked itself almost by accident as much as by choice, and yet there is a strong logic and method to it of the sort that would make Hercules Poirot proud. The theme for me this year is to be communication.

The keystone via sacra of this plan is based around languages. I am a strongly verbal person, but I understand that verbalisation is as limited by language as it is by the creativity of the mind. It is difficult to describe concepts that you do not have words for. To this end one of my goals is to develop my language skills. My English skills, even if I do flatter myself, I would submit are more then adequate, and so my focus will this year be on Arabic, Gujurati and if the winds are potent enough towards Mandarin as well.

I understand that pragmatically the last is the most forwardly important. The first two represent my heritage and my history respectively, and sometimes the past is just as important to set right before making provision for the future. If I can gain more command of these languages, to make myself happy with their functioning and role in my life, then I would be more profoundly happy.

There are other ways naturally in which my core theme is developed. There are mediums that I am only beginning to dabble with, that perhaps I should have engaged in long ago, to develop and nurture so that they can express parts of me that my strong left brain, with its extreme logical and analytical bent has set aside as not being of sufficient important. I have already posted on my intent to learn to draw.

Perhaps I will do more then that, perhaps I will write poetry, songs, fiction and any other form and scansion that I can unearth in the literary method book. I have no pretensions as to the quality of these efforts. I know that they will be of so ignominious a quality that the Divine will regret his omniscience, but I will not let that stop me. They are avenues that I wish to explore.

My own nature will perhaps also ally itself against me. I am by nature a bit of a perfectionist, who doesn’t like to do anything that does not reach a sufficiently high standard. But unlike most perfectionists my response has traditionally been to not do, rather then to try and attain a substandard effort. This is why I like deadlines and forced assessment. They force me to do something which of my own volition I am very unlikely to do. If I am to write publicly, then I would write as Tennyson wrote poetry, or draw as Escher drew. But this restraint on myself I now set out to avoid deliberately, and be content to produce much that is unmentionable in good as well as ill company.

One last way is the communication with people that I so often chose to not adopt. There are few people that I genuinely want to see again, and a few that it would be nice to see and those who, in the end, I am not really bothered if I see them again. It would be nice to see them, that disgusting foul word ‘nice’, but that’s all.

Instead I will make an attempt to reach out towards all the people near or far that I would keep in touch with and be sure to keep in contact with them more and for a more sustained amount. It will probably not be easy; especially since I anticipate that many do and will continue to find the work of staying in touch arduous and tedious, as I have found it myself. That for me will not suffice as an excuse. Things require work to be sustained, they require a maintainer, and no edifice will stand for long without one no matter how prestigious its commissioner or how proud its architect. In this aspect as well I will improve my communications.

The days are spread before me in endless possibilities, but now I understand that they also ask a question as well as suggest responses. To suggest a response is not to answer the question. This then I set out as my answer; my rough draft of a project that only time will bring to fruition. By setting out my direction, I will succeed at it better then I have to this date.