Friday, 30 September 2011

Small turns big

I just quickly want to jot down a small (but big) idea that has been germinating in my mind recently.

It seems to me that most complex concepts - in philosophy, science, etc. - start with very simple epiphanies.

There's the classic Isaac Newton example. I can't claim to understand, nor read, any of his writings, but his big idea started small: an apple fell on his head, thus the concept of gravity came about. Eureka.

And for a lot of complicated philosophical ideas to be expounded, they are often required to be presented with a simple starting point. John Stuart Mill's utilitarianism, for instance, though a complex branch of philosophy starts with a premise that a Mozart symphony requires greater levels of intelligence and knowledge than eating an ice-cream... which leads to several discussions, theories, elaborations etc. etc. etc.

This may seem v. self-evident or simply platitudinous (my very use of this word may seem like a platitude in itself)... It's merely a (small) thought that has amused my mind recently.

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EDIT - When writng this I was not aware of any (possible) sexual connotations in the title of this post.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

34th Parallel

http://www.34thparallel.net/index.html

Well, I can't say it's The New York Times - but it's something. I'm going public...

My name is on the cover of some magazine, but here I am, all alone, unable to discuss it with anyone. The Perpetual Depression of Simon King.

Buy a copy to support this excellent magazine. It's part of a dying breed of publications.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

10 Reasons why I'm already considering dropping out of uni

  • I desperately want to return to the routine I had in Dronfield.
  • I don't like adhering to someone else's scheme-of-things. I want to impose my own self-devised timetable and programmes onto myself.
  • I don't want to write about books, I want to simply write them.
  • Literary analysis seems pretty futile to me... I mean, I don't really see much I didn't already know brought to the surface by merely looking at a paragraph of writing, annotating scrupulously and making observations.
  • I'm yet to see an extraordinarily attractive girl at this uni.
  • It has dawned on me that I am quite slow-witted. I'm dreading seminars because I don't how I will fare sitting witjh a roomful of youngsters having intellectual discourse. It takes me a long time to formulate observations - many seem to make them at the drop of a hat.
  • I don't know how I'll make the transition to university-level writing. I can't really tailor my writing to a specific formula...
  • This course seems terribly demanding... Apparently I need to devote 40+ hours of independent study each week...
  • Here comes an incredibly prejudiced assertion, since I've hardly spoken to anyone in my course: most of the people doing this course seem like poncey pseudo-intellectuals. They wear these thick squared pseudo-beatnik glasses (I bet they aren't even prescription) and make these pretentious remarks... If this isn't the case, some of the students are merely jocks who make me question why the fuck they have even chosen this course in the first place.
  • I miss the by-gone days of marvelling at the wonders of a library... without being part of any academic course of any sort.

I'm giving this thing one semester... If I'm still this despondent by then, I'm packing my suitcase and I'll take my leave.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

The south

Lautaro



A Mapuche ritual in Lautaro's 'plaza'.

Cañete



A Mapuche 'ruca' presented by none other than me. In Spanish.

Too heavy to upload here. So it's on YT.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Chile

Right, the initial idea for my trip to Chile - hike from the northernmost town to the southernmost - floundered. I soon realised that it was too ambitious - far too ambitious. That's why I only visited certain sectors instead.

This was an almost epiphanic trip for me in that several 'positive' things occurred. I did far more socialising than usual, a dislikeable headteacher from my school in Chile was fired, a short story of mine was accepted for publication and my place in university was confirmed.

I am writing from there this very moment. I feel rather disillusioned by it - both academically and socially - but that's something I'll cover in a future post.

Sadly I didn't take as many photos as I would have liked, but I've uploaded more than enough here.


Santiago


La Moneda, at night.

Santiago, the capital, was my base. I stood at quite a disadvantage in that I stayed at my aunt's home in quite possibly the 'poshest', most privileged area in Chile - 'La Dehessa,' which is very far apart from the city centre and tourist attractions. This meant that I had often to commute on metro to reach places of interest.

The first few days were quite boring, but I soon started keeping myself occupied.

The tentative of the trip was to really 'see' Chile, though while I stayed in Santiago I can't really say I saw 'the real Chile'. La Dehessa is a very insular place, almost antithetical to 'real' Chilean places and people. My family were very very hospitable and friendly, though

Though I did get to see more of that when going over to the Southern town I grew up in as a child, Concepción.

Concepción

The two and a half weeks I spent in Concepción were terrific. The greatest joy was having conversations with the woman of the house, Paulina. I also got on very well with their elder sons and had lots of laughs.

In terms of football, there were nuggets of gold and there were catastrophic let-downs. I went to see the team I support, Fernandez Vial, win 3-0. On the other end of the spectrum Chile, despite playing attractive football, were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Copa America. And the luckiest national side in the world went on to win it, again with a very favourable draw - Uruguay.

While I was there I was enthralled in the fiery politics in the country, which I'll write about below.

Student Protests



Universidad de Concepcion, gaining an almost apocalyptic dimension whilst 'en toma'.


'Lemas'.An authorised protest soon to turn into something a little nastier.

Universidad de Chile.

What gave my trip an interesting 'backdrop' was the political situation. Indeed, I came back with a stronger political conscience.

The protests made complete sense to me. What the students are claiming for may be disproportionate, but the general sentiment is absolutely justifiably.

Basically, everything in Chile is determined by the class system. State education is of far lower quality than private, which all in all leads you to a lower qualification. Private universities, which require large sums of money, have lower requisites. In short: if you are privileged, you'll have it far easier.

Solve the problem of education, something the centre-left party didn't do for twenty years of power, and there you improve the class differences in the country.

From conversations I had with people I couldn't help but feel that 20% of Chile have a worm's eye view of the world. They lead insular lives, mingle with no other people and continue to espouse backward beliefs. "If they push themselves, they [lower-class people] can achieve," was one account. How can they achieve if the current always runs against them?

Southern Towns

A statue of folk singer Violeta Parra in the town of her birth, San Carlos.

An indigenous ritual performed in Lautaro's public park. Video of this soon to follow.

Nacimiento, one of the poorest towns in Chile.

With a childhood friend I went across about eight southern towns. Miserable weather, several 'plazas', 'Mapuches - this was quintessentially Chilean.

I was lucky enough to witness a mapuche ritual right middle in the park of Lautaro. I'll upload this as a video soon.

San Pedro de Atacama


Valle de la luna.
Valle de marte.

Gheisers.
This was an incredible, if tiring, experience. I went to all the attractions of San Pedro within two or three days, virtually without having slept at all. Atacama is the driest desert in the world and the altiplano, as demonstrated in these photos, is beautiful.

Valparaíso

Valparaíso is a city by the port with a distinctive history. It is wonderful to climb up the hills and look at the scenery...

This was a great, great day. I was kept good company by a friend, who I relentlessly jabbered at throughout the entire trip. Couldn't have gone on a better day.

Buenos Aires, Argentina


The icing on the cake. Astonishing parks, books on all corners and plenty of culture...

Friday, 9 September 2011

Two pretty girls

I had a lovely rendez-vous across Buenos Aires the last week. Buenos Aires is a bibliophile's heaven - book shops in every corner, teeming with the complete works of Borges. And you know what? There are a lot of pretty girls, too. You may get to know them, at least if you are prepared to initiate discourse with them...

Back in the north of England I couldn't possibly imagine seeing a female person my age perusing a copy of one of my favourite authors... Perhaps they'll read a little chick-lit, but J. G Ballard's Crash is a little off the radar...

Well, in Buenos Aires the girls are pretty and they read the same books as me... Yet, like the Anglo girls, they are completely disinterested at looking at me when I walk past...

But fuck fuck fuck... In a book shop a girl is right next to me and she's picked up a Julio Cortázar anthology... A day later I am in a cafe, outside in the blistering sun, a pretty girl sits in a table adjacent to mine, she orders a cortado (same as me) and she takes out a Roberto Bolaño book... For twenty mintues she reads through it, annotates it, drinks her coffee as I nervously flit my eyes across her.

And fuck, on both occasions, I do absolutely nothing.

I'm pathetic, I'm vermin, I'm dumb, I'm hopeless.

I'm of use to no-one but myself.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Burn bridges

So much shit has happened that I think I must... burn bridges.

The past has haunted and haunted me... I have made many mistakes, but I must tighten up.

I really shouldn't fret about the past. All those cunts... are a thing of the past.

I have a place in a university... A short story of mine was accepted for publication. This is my starting point and I must be cautious and furtive.

All those people I despised - school companions, teachers, bureaucrats... Are probably wallowing in their shit right now, their backward minds, their backward societies... Victims of their own making.

Even people that didn't particularly bother me - goodbye. You're part of the past, a scheme of things that is no longer relevant.

My new life beckons me.