Made in August 2019 while waiting at home for a tradie.
How young I was. How naive.
Today is Tuesday. We’ve not had internet since Friday morning. Five long days.
It’s a little thing. An inconsequential thing. Pretty rough for work, but generally not a huge loss: I can do research offline, tethering my iPhone when I need to, I’ve rescheduled meetings.
I became reacquainted with boredom, with that lack of control over how you spend your time. But I also became a little concerned about how reliant I am on the internet for entertainment, for distraction.
It’s an old conversation now, rife with misinformation and half-baked platitudes. But there is a loss of the moment when you’re swept along by the stream.
We watched a bluray on Saturday night; a movie I grabbed from the bargain bin at JB a few years back. I have a whole bunch of such purchases, still in their plastic wrap and gathering dust on the bookcase.
I read 550 pages of a book on Sunday: I’ve not done that since I was a teenager. I wouldn’t have done this if the old modem was ticking along. With hindsight, it was kind of wonderful: I did it because there was not much else I felt like doing, and I was bored.
I got some Lego for my birthday; another thing I’ve not touched since even before my teenage years. It was perfect: just follow the instructions, put it together. The perfect occupation for a tired and overwhelmed mind.
I’m not 100% sure what I’m getting at here. I’m certainly not singing the praises of the offline experience: Jesus H connect that broadband to my veins I need it, particularly during lockdown. I guess I’m more or less saying that rifling through the bookcase, the DVD collection, these were kind of nice things to do at a weird time.
There is no old media or new media, as Simone Natale writes; rather there are cycles of use, dynamic shifts and re-organisations of our perception of and attitude towards different artefacts, platforms, systems.
Nothing forces you to reevaluate your relationship to what surrounds you than being forced to live in it with no escape for months. And having looked closer, there are some hidden gems, new experiences to be had. (And then, doubtless, one hell of a spring clean once this damnėd lockdown ends.)
Sun streams in through the window. I’ve left the light off today: for some reason the sunlight is enough. The driveway is being dug up, so the door to my study is closed, and my noise-cancelling headphones are nestled over my ears. In my head, for once, things are relatively calm.
I’m working through a project that necessitates deep thought. Deep thought is hard at the moment. I suppose that’s why I opened up this blog post: something simple, something gentle, to clear out the cobwebs.
Deep thought? On the one hand, I mean deep theoretical ruminations, the kind for which academics are stereotyped. But on the other, it’s strategic thought. How will this fit my narrative? Where can I publish? Can this be put up for funding?
This strategy is something I need to do more, anyway, but particularly at the moment, when academic work is increasingly precarious. More so than ever, one feels the need to be not just productive, but scheming, pragmatic, to think laterally about one’s place in a discipline, an institution, the world.
It ruins everything. Takes away the magic of things. I remember posting here when I first got this job. I mentioned an overwhelming sense of relief, that someone finally noticed that I could fit somewhere, that I could bring something to the table.
But I remain happy where I am, and that’s something. I’m still tired, but this year, in spite of the world burning, I feel like I’m getting somewhere.