It’s a little surreal—very, actually. Awhile ago I saw myself walk off the stage of UCC with a scroll in hand, and a mortarboard plastered to my head. Then again, awhile ago, the world began.

Tomorrow I return ‘home’, so to speak; only this time, I will have to earn my right to stay. I don’t have much to say right now—I probably will have a lot more to ramble about as the weeks roll on, if I can scavenge what scraps of time are left to me after they are shredded by the untold hours of lesson planning and resource hunting. But for the moment, I will perhaps make one resolution, which I hope will govern how I think, act, and perform (I don’t really like that word even though I know it is true to some extent).

While I am officially on my teaching practicum, there is a sense in which my career narrative has begun. With that in mind (without diminishing the assessment dimension of this experience), I will try my very best to conceive of practicum not as an ongoing examination, but an opportunity to begin working, and to settle down. In short, I will be working in my capacity as a teacher, and not as a student teacher gritting his teeth in indignation while slaving over lesson plans—hoping for reprieve—as though there were nothing but eternal rest beyond practicum. My work as an educator has begun; I very much prefer the term educator, because teacher seems to suggest that all we do is teach—something I feel is unhelpfully reductive.

I will set my desk right. I will know my students as much as I can. I will ease myself into a genuine workplace persona. Most importantly, I want to be happy while doing all these. I believe that there is some way to be exuberant at the eye of the storm, and I think it lies in envisioning the storm as a contouring force of nature that gives shape and meaning to what I do.

Dawn of Reason

“O goodness infinite, goodness immense!
That all this good of evil shall produce
And evil turn to good more wonderful
Than that which by Creation first brought forth
Light out of darkness!”
John Milton, Paradise Lost (XII.469-72)

This is my obligatory ‘recovery’ post, because if there is anything writing my Honours Thesis has taught me, it is that I need closure, no matter how spectral, no matter how specious; presence must always succeed absence, and recovery, trauma. This presence does not need to be ontological—existing. I only need to believe it—it only needs to be epistemological; I only need to feel it—it only needs to be phenomenological.

When I first conceived the subject of my HT—tracing the fall and rise of Milon’s Satan—on a train ride home about eight months ago, I thought: hey, this potentially qualifies as a kind of self-narrative, doesn’t it? I mean, it is the allegorical performance of everyone’s life; it’s about losing Eden and recovering that lost presence in another guise. But as I proceeded with a more detailed formulation of my thesis this semester—when I finally began writing—I realised Paradise is forever lost to Satan, and there is no recovery. No, I don’t mean the actual corporeal Paradise, or the paradise within; I simply mean that state of fullness and self-assuredness—that simple vocalization of identity: this is me, I am he. As I wrote my first words, I wanted adamantly to redeem this fallen morning star: if he is precluded from divine salvation, then at least, at the very, very least, please return him his Self—the most intimate possession of any sentient being. But no, I’ve realised, even that reprisal is impossible. And my thesis has metamorphosed to reflect this futility, this debarring, this immense void irreparable.

I am done with the nexus of my thesis—the twinned architecture of trauma and recovery of Satan, amounting to some 8500 words and more. And I realise that I’ve unconsciously projected more of myself into my work than I’ve dared to imagine. Every single section is a discursive repetition of some event, some fall, some rise; in my writing I have inadvertently procured reasons for why I do the things I do, or feel what I feel. At times I half-remember tapping out those same words over whiskey—half-drunk—here on this page, in the dead of night, many nights ago.

And although I know we can never return home to Eden, maybe—just maybe—Eden has always been within us, always, now and forever, in the trying.

Last Light

“The end days are always unusually cold, although the only snow that falls here, falls inside, into a vacuum that once was this stellar transcendental signified. Now all that remains is a voracious maelstrom into which all grief, joy, fear, and vengeance must necessarily converge; all disappointment returns to the disappointment of that absence, all expectation vainly rests on the reassertion of that irrevocable presence. But it’s been three years since I watched the star that once nestled in this resting place, die and die at the turn of the new year. In defiance of its passing, I have substituted centre for centre, shadow for twilight for light; and lo! there is light – the undying perpetuation of this spectral gleam we call Memory. Some beacons ought to have been razed and consumed by their own fires, but there is some sick pleasure in making monuments of the monumental dead”
Myself, 31/12/2011

That fire is now dead; or else it dies flickering in the deathly stillness of the tomb to which it still plays withering watchman. The wakeful dead have gone to the Maker, and their mortal frames, having been released from the adamant grip of Memory–at last failing, fall to cold ash not unlike the soil that first received them. When their otherworldly wards have twice died, and no trace of their likeness remains, for whom then does the fire still burn so fervently?

So it dies.

I have forgotten–and miss–the self-consuming pathos of missing someone so dearly. Granted, it is on hindsight almost unforgivably indulgent; but what do we know when held so firmly and assuredly in Memory’s lukewarm embrace? Still, soon she must leave or die, and the mourning rites are renewed with a different though lesser solemnity as her arms fall cold around us. Must this mourning persist, from lost object to lost object? Perhaps. But if anything, I’ve learnt that repetition is respite (if one does not fixate, but let the tears flow naturally–to let oneself lose, and lose again, until tears become ritual).

Many things have happened over the past year that I have reiterated a thousand times in preceding posts, and a thousand more in the solitude of my own thoughts–there is hardly justification or worth in repeating them here. But if there was ever a point of deep inflection this year that threw me into fits of profound and trancelike self-assessment, it would undoubtedly have been the death of my hard-drive (which by the way has, by some costly arcanistry, been in part reversed); that loss was the critical mass that fell upon me like some dread epiphany–intense fear intermixed with final resolution. There emerged, from some intractable source within, a surge of existential urgency, an overwhelming desire to speak for fear that breath would–not unlike the sudden onset of mechanical failure–fail this poor excuse of a living, dying, and desperate body, and all words unspoken be forever lost. This voice remains internal (and rightfully so), for the uprising must begin from within, against the internal(ized) Law, so that battleworn and self-assured, it may later with hardened intent face the Law without.

Suddenly it seems, there has come light out of a deep and long-drawn darkness, which has made me realise that all I’ve been living under is the shadow of a passing eclipse, and not the indefinite reign of grey sky that I thought had crowned the aftermath of loss.