For the first time in weeks, my mind actually seems to be working again. Not that I'm thinking anything especially useful or productive, but for ages I've just been wandering around as if in a daze, not sure what I'm thinking, not sure if I'm thinking. For somebody who's normally painfully (self-)conscious about every thought, that's a surprisingly depressing and disconcerting experience -- "surprisingly" because I've often wished I could just switch off my thoughts. Moral of the story: be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.
On Friday I was wandering around work in a daze, unable to concentrate on anything, getting up frequently to get drinks of water or go to the loo or even make tea (which I normally hate doing) just so that I didn't have to carry on staring blankly at the screen. I couldn't remember what I was supposed to be doing, or why. I was feeling physically ill, too, which didn't help -- for the past 4 days or so I've been having stomach pains which feel like having permanent trapped wind, which may not sound that nasty, but it's been waking me up, and sometimes causing me to double over with pain, and even when it's not very painful it's just a constant irritation, and it's making me feel tired and grouchy. I've had this before and the doctor said it was just a "bug" (that is, they don't know what caused it), but I think I'm going to ask about it again when I see the doctor on the 18th (for a review of the antidepressants).
Today, though, I've been wandering around thinking about a million and one random things, to the extent that I've even ended up talking to my cow-orkers. I normally don't talk to people much, because people here all seem to be incapable of thinking about thinking, only thinking about things. I need people to have an extra layer of reflexiveness if I'm going to be able to talk to them about anything easily. I need them not to look at me as though I'm a freak when I stop mid-sentence to comment on the structure of the sentence I'm halfway through, and then forget to finish the sentence because I've been distracted by a point of grammar or a shiny thing. But if I'm thinking too much at once I just can't help talking, even if I know they'll look at me weirdly when I do.
I've been thinking about the different types of rain, and how strongly they speak to (or just speak?) my emotions (thanks to kaet for indirectly triggering these thoughts). This ties in with some stuff I've been kicking around in my head for years now about the symbols that I use for thinking and for feeling -- I don't mean that the symbols are a substitute for thinking/feeling, but they're a necessary part of the (not entirely verbal) language that I use to articulate the thoughts/feelings to myself. The symbols are a curious mix of elements and archetypes and emotions -- actually, they're not that curious at all, they're an entirely predictable response to 20th century Western cultural influences. I'm not sure whether I need to read more Jung, or less. (<ox.talk>Fewer!</ox.talk>)
Sometimes I wish I could just think about what I think without thinking about how I think about it.
I'm writing this in such a strange order. I keep adding more stuff in between things I've already written, and each time I think of something I want to branch off in at least two different directions. This is, of course, what hypertext is for. Maybe some time when I'm really bored at work (surely not!) I'll try to construct a hypertext representation of my thoughts on that day. I'll need bits of CGI here and there so that links aren't always the same, they're not quite random but from some points in the thought-map there will be several possible links, with different weightings.
Then suddenly I'll get distracted from this kind of abstract musing into thinking about chunky KitKats, and how "chunky" is such sneaky ad-speak, when normal KitKats are thinner than the average chocolate bar, and a "chunky" KitKat is basically about the same size as a normal chocolate bar, but with more air in because it's wafer-biscuit. The chunky white KitKats aren't very nice, as I discovered today; the good thing about white chocolate is the relentless artificiality of it -- the sweet smoothness and total lack of resemblance to natural foodstuffs. This is completely ruined by the presence, in the middle, of the usual brown wafer. In fact, the wafer shows through the white chocolate slightly, like a poorly iced cake. It's just not right. Sadly, I never found a red KitKat (a recent competition claimed that if you found a red one you would win money, Golden Ticket style); I imagine, though, that they were rather like the purple chocolate of Squeggs and other Wonka products -- even more pleasingly and seamlessly artificial.
Thence (by way of the chocolate & drinks machine at work) I'm distracted into thinking about caffeine, and addiction, and how being addicted to abstinence is just as bad as being addicted to excess. I don't think being addicted to caffeine is bad primarily because of the caffeine, but because of the addiction -- I don't like not being in control of my mind/body. But I've found that if I put too much effort into giving something up, the giving-up takes control of me in a very similar way -- saying that I "can't" drink coffee, or coke, is no different from saying that I "can't" resist it. There's no real reason why I "can't" drink it, it's just a question of choosing not to. ("I could give up giving up any time I like.") And if it's just a question of choosing, each choice should be my own choice -- I should be able to choose what to drink (and what not to drink) for each instance of choice. At least, that's my rationale for the can of coke I had today.
From the purple of Wonka chocolate I could have been distracted, by way of Stephen Gower (a very purple person), into musing about the efficacy of the grapevine. He emailed me out of the blue (or purple) for what must be the first time in years (not counting mails to the Earthlings mailing list) to congratulate me on passing my driving test, having heard about it from someone who "leaked" it to #keble (I'm guessing either Art or taimatsu). I don't mind in the least, I don't do secrets (more on that in another LJ entry, perhaps) -- I'm just fascinated by information flow, and the speed with which news travels these days.
(I only wish the afternoon would travel at the same speed. Is it hometime yet? Wishing my life away as usual. "Not living, / But rising dead.")
I can't believe how near it is to Christmas. The "festive season" seems to have crept up on me this year even more quietly than last year; only last week we were in single-digit December dates, and now suddenly Christmas is next week. I'm sure there used to be a much longer build-up to Christmas when I was younger; probably a combination of factors like school/university terms, and advent calendars, and that indefinable "magic" of Christmas (which now just appears to be advanced sociocultural technology).
I read a superb article in today's Guardian about Christmas, kitsch, the Nazis, shit, and Kundera. I've always loved kitsch, and still do, but this article has put a whole new uncomfortable spin on it. I need to think about what it is that I like about kitsch; I also need to re-read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, as when I read it I was very drunk and very depressed. The book made perfect sense at the time, but I remember very little of it; I only wish I remembered as little of the subsequent drunken self-destructive horrors. Still, this is not a festive thought; 'tis the season to be jolly, not to crawl around paralytically in the no-man's-land of memory, following the Ghost of Relationships Past.
Tinsel is basically just a fluffier version of barbed wire, though. It's so symbolic the way people hang tinsel up around bits of their departments at Christmas. It's hardly surprising really, though, considering how competitive people get about their decorations, and their Christmas celebrations ... not to mention the amount they spend on presents. Of course, I'm subject to that guilt-trip myself -- not so much from a money point of view, because people don't necessarily know how much a present cost, but from a quantity/quality point of view. Did I get X a big enough present? Even if I'm sure X will like the present, will they feel miffed that I got Y a bigger present? I know that's not how I think about the presents that I receive, so logic tells me that it's probably not how everybody else thinks about the presents they receive, but paranoia and guilt usually override logic in my emotions.
Will I manage to get any of my Christmas presents and cards sent out on time this year? More worryingly, will Amazon actually deliver the stuff I've ordered from them before I go back to my parents' house for Christmas? They claimed yesterday that they'd shipped it, but delivery to the customer is always the weakest point in the chain of internet ordering. ("I'd like to order a brace of internets, please, in time for Christmas.") In the meantime I'm struggling to make my Christmas cards in time. Maybe I should just give in to the inevitable and start making New Year cards instead. And goodness knows when I'm going to find time to make a cake for my family -- at this rate I may have to do it when I get back to their house, which means I'll have to remember to take all my cake-decorating stuff with me, which is a pain.
In the end, who cares about any of this stuff? Who cares what happens to me -- to anybody? This recurring thought and the dark sky outside are making me think of Larkin, particularly the middle section of "Talking in Bed":
Outside, the wind's incomplete unrest
Builds and disperses clouds about the sky,
And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us.
There was an article in Select, back in the early 90s, about how "Poetry is the New Rock and Roll", and Morrissey was hailed as the new Philip Larkin. This says more about the early 90s than it does about either "poet". Everything was "the New Rock and Roll". Now nothing is the new anything (or should that be "'nothing' is the new 'anything'", in the sense of "less is the new more"?). Although the past is possibly the new present. Yesterday is the new today. "I don't love now." Star 107.9FM had a 90s retrospective the other day, and I couldn't believe that the 90s were long enough ago to have passed through the rose-coloured curtain. (And aren't policemen looking young these days?) They did play "You" by Ten Sharp, though, which was the first single I ever owned, and a song that I still love today... so I forgave them. (My god, Ten Sharp are recording a new album. What with this and Suede's comeback tour, I'm starting to feel like I'm reliving the 90s. All I need now is to start keeping a pretentious, rambly, angst-ridden diary again... ah.)