helenic: (scholarly)
[personal profile] helenic

I didn't manage to sleep until 5am last night, and after [livejournal.com profile] yvesilena's 8.30am wake-up call I fell asleep again for an hour. However, other than that today has been reasonably productive: I had a useful conversation this morning, spent some time doing emotion-sorting visualisation techniques in the shower to try to help me focus on work this week, and I finally overcame my fear of the UL enough to actually go inside, find some books and read them. It was much harder than it sounds, trust me. I've had a two-sided reading list for my thesis sitting in my bag for the last three weeks, and every time I've tried to go to the UL I've been waylaid by anxiety, and ended up in the Classics faculty library, Divinity, or even Sainsburys, or just walking past rather than up the steps, and going home again. I'm terrified of it. Today was the first time in three years at Cambridge I've actually gone inside. I filled out the form for computer access, ascertained that I can withdraw books with my university card, and realised I didn't have £1 for a (compulsory) locker - but the library staff let me leave my bag at the desk, so that was alright. And I made notes on three books, got out five more including two I've been trying to get hold of for ages, and generally felt industrious and scholarly.

It's beautiful inside. It reminds me of museums, all marble and high ceilings, but with an essential Britishness to it; all the books hardbacked and dust-jacketless (occasionally including the glossy paperback cover a few pages in), men in shapeless green cardigans and dog collars (I was in the Religion section), the dim sunlight in the South Wing making the spines harder and harder to read the deeper you go. I found vast quantities of books that would have been tremendously helpful to my thesis if only I'd discovered them a fortnight ago, but it's entirely my own fault for not getting up the nerve to explore earlier. After three hours, however, the lack of caffeine (or, in fact, any liquid at all, as they don't let you have even closed bottles of water) was beginning to tell on me, so I went over the road to Clare, where my friend Aleks fed me about five cups of strong black coffee in rapid succession, and we talked about Venice.

After another hours' work to finish the book I was on, I came home to collect the library books that were due back at the Classics faculty, and pick up some money so I could photocopy some articles, but the lack of sleep and caffeine overdose have caught up with me and I didn't end up going back. I've effectively taken the last two hours' off, answering emails, doing a final edit on my entry for the college writing competition (and huge thanks to [livejournal.com profile] the_lady_lily, [livejournal.com profile] smhwpf, [livejournal.com profile] ixwin and [livejournal.com profile] romauld for your comments; if I win, I'll buy you each a drink) and spending time on Useful Things like this interview meme from [livejournal.com profile] thedivineoliver:

1: in the last week how would you estimate your work to masturbation ratio has worked out?

Ooh. Let me think back. Well, on Friday and Saturday nights there was no masturbation for me, as I was drunk and doing the platonic bed/room-sharing thing. But I didn't do any work either. Friday I did loads of work so that probably counts as extra, but then on Tuesday night I got stoned so ... I'd say about 5.5:7.

2: how much of the alleged "classics" you study are actually just pretentious twaddle no matter what language they are written in?

All of them. They're either oh-so-serious and poetic and Big and Important and Oh Tragedy, Woe, (like Aeschylus), or they're crude and vulgar and all about sex and poo and calling various celebrities self-indulgent wankers, BUT with loads of snobby political intellectual in-jokes, and with a general self-satisfied American-esque OH YES, our empire is TEH R0XX0R because it has writers like MEEE (such as Aristophanes and Ovid). Or they're lyrical and posey and OMG, how well read am I, like Callimachus and Copa and Virgil ("did you get those echoes of Propertius and Theocritus there? Didja? Huh? Bet you didn't, dumbass"). Or they're TEH FUNK like Euripides with his modern rap lyrics, yo, tell dat Aeschylus I is overthrowin' da literary convenshuns, ya man, fo real, Sophocles is goin' DOWN, fuck yo momma. Oh, apart from Homer. Homer is the business.

I hasten to add that none of the actual Greek or Latin authors are anywhere near as pretentious as Classicists.

3: what is the most desperate form of entertainment you've ever resorted to in order to avoid conversation with relatives?

Hmm, hard to choose. There's the well-known Volunteering to Walk the Dog tactic, but I've avoided that in recent years since our spaniel went senile. I've been known to play folk music with relatives rather than talk to them, but only immediate family. Or I hide in the interweb like a big goth baby. Or help in the kitchen while playing the radio REALLY REALLY LOUD so as to preclude conversation with my fellow cooks.

4: is it ever acceptable to drink lager in public?

Of course not, heathen. AND NO, MIXING IT WITH LEMONADE DOESN'T MAKE IT OK. Pussy.

5: which greek philosopher talked the most bollocks?

I would like here to quote Philo, On Joseph, XII 58-60.

The man who brought this servant of whom we are speaking is said to have been a eunuch; very naturally, for the multitude which purchases the services of a man skilful in affairs of state is truly a eunuch, having in appearance, indeed, the organs of generation, but being deprived of all the power requisite for generating; just as those persons who have a confused sight though they have eyes, are nevertheless deprived of the active use of them, inasmuch as they are not able to see clearly. What, then, is the resemblance of eunuchs to the multitude? That the multitude too is unable to generate wisdom, but that it studies virtue; for when a multitude of men, brought promiscuously together from all quarters and of different races, meets in the same place, what is said indeed may be proper and becoming, but what is intended and what is done is quite contrary; since the multitude embraces what is spurious in preference to what is genuine, because it is carried away by false opinion, and has not studied what is truly honourable. On which account (though it seems a most unnatural thing), a wife is represented as cohabiting with this eunuch; for the multitudes court desire, as a man courts a woman; for the sake of which it says and does everything, making it its counsellor in everything which should and should not be spoken, trifling or important, being not at all accustomed to attend to considerations of calm wisdom.

... 'Nuff said.

If you really want questions, shout. But only if you're going to answer them. Post them in your own journal, etc; you know the drill.

on 2005-04-28 06:13 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] fiona-kitty.livejournal.com
I enjoyed working in the UL over the holidays. And it does actually have a canteen, with coffee, although going in there alone reminds me too much of school!

If you can think of any Questions, go ahead.. :)

on 2005-04-28 06:43 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
I haven't found the canteen yet. Can you take books in the canteen?

Questions... hmm.

1. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
2. What's the strangest/most interesting place you've ever had sex?
3. Which book has had the greatest effect on you this year?
4. What are the best and worst things about Cambridge?
5. If you were in Knightmare, would you have wanted to be the person in the game, or one of the people leading them?

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on 2005-04-28 06:14 pm (UTC)
adamw: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] adamw
Hmm, not had any questions from this meme for a while, so if you can come up with five, go for it.

on 2005-04-28 06:39 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
1. What's your opinion on Slimelight?
2. Are you going to vote next week?
3. What are the five basic food groups?
4. Tentacles: yay/nay?
5. What do you want to be when you grow up?

on 2005-04-28 06:16 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] oxfordgirl.livejournal.com
Have you given me questions already? I forget...

on 2005-04-28 06:35 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
nope, don't think so. Hmmm ...

1. To what extent you find your current most-played LARP character (at any one time) affecting -or infecting - your day-to-day behaviour?
2. What's your favourite untranslateable phrase?
3. Right, 'fess up. What were your reasons for chucking Classics and going with English instead? I DEMAND ANSWERS!
4. What's the whole "Oxfnord" thing about?
5. Do you have any outlandish plans for the cool ways in which you're going to bring up your kids? (If you're planning on being babyfree - why?)

on 2005-04-28 07:17 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dennyd.livejournal.com
Booyah. Questionify me :)

on 2005-04-28 08:53 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
1. If you could live in any fictional universe (not created by you :P) which would you choose?
2. What's the longest sex session you've ever had? Pausing for a bathroom break/cigarette/drink doesn't count; putting the TV on, using the computer or making food does :)
3. What/where was your retreat as a child?
4. Describe your best ever outfit.
5. So when are you coming up to Cambridge? :)

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on 2005-04-28 07:34 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dreamfracture.livejournal.com
I've already been infected, but I'm more than happy to recieve more questions.

on 2005-04-28 08:39 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
1. Where on the Kinsey scale (0-6) would you place your sexuality? Has this changed over time?
2. What's the most outrageous thing you've ever done in a church?
3. If you had to be re-born into any period of history, into comparable social circumstances to your current situation, where and when would you choose?
4. The upcoming Star Wars movie: thoughts?
5. Body modification (tattoos/piercings/scarification, etc). Do you currently have any, and are you planning to get any (more)? If so, describe them.

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on 2005-04-28 07:44 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] kungfuchaos.livejournal.com
do me! *g*
i'll do this one properly, i promise.

on 2005-04-28 08:46 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
:) okay...

1. If money was no object and you couldn't stay in the country, where would you most like to travel this summer, and what would you do?
2. Why couldn't Gandalf have sent Frodo to Mordor on the back of one of the Eagles, guarded by the other Eagles and Gandalf? Seriously, I can't think of a reason.
3. What great things does Spanish have that English doesn't?
4. Do you think there's any truth in the karma principle? Why?
5. If you could change anything about your physical appearance, would you? What?

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Posted by [identity profile] kungfuchaos.livejournal.com - on 2005-04-28 10:11 pm (UTC) - Expand

on 2005-04-28 08:24 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] smhwpf.livejournal.com
Go on, question me!

on 2005-04-28 08:49 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
1. Given the option, and on the understanding that you could never return, would you rather travel into the future or the past, with the knowledge that you have now?
2. If you could live the life of any fictional character, who would you choose?
3. Is representative democracy really our best option?
4. Do you envisage yourself staying in academia indefinitely?
5. Which skill/craft do you most wish you had, and why?

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Posted by [identity profile] smhwpf.livejournal.com - on 2005-04-29 12:04 am (UTC) - Expand

on 2005-04-28 09:50 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] strongtrousers.livejournal.com
Very well.


(Also, whenever I was working in the UL (in the bookstacks rather than reading rooms at least) I would have a bottle of water, and nobody batted an eyelid.)

on 2005-04-28 11:21 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
the problem is sneaking the water past the desk at reception. Once you're in, it's fine, but it's getting up those stairs, bottle in hand...

1. Which is your favourite cuisine to a) cook, b) eat?
2. Which countries would you someday like to live in? Do you think any of them are likely to happen?
3. As an ASNAC, what's your opinion of Tolkien?
4. "We believe in the holy alcohol, giver of life. (http://the-alchemist.livejournal.com/200048.html)" What is your booze of choice?
5. What are the chances of my being able to borrow one Fellatio Villa's spare single beds during July/August?

on 2005-04-28 09:56 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] the-lady-lily.livejournal.com
I'm glad you've finally conquered UL Fear! :)

Tea room - if you stand at the T-junction formed at the bottom of the Huge Tower just behind the reception desk, facing towards the Reading Room, you take the right corridor, go all the way to the end, then instead of going up the stairs go down the corridor opposite it (putting your books on the table). They have a free water machine.

on 2005-04-28 11:15 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
I will try to find it! no doubt it's handily labelled and such. I like the UL now, once I'm inside. But getting there is still Fear inducing!

on 2005-04-28 10:35 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] verte.livejournal.com
I can't believe I'd been in the Cambridge UL before you ventured in there! It is gorgeous, but I can understand the intimidating-ness. People here shy away from the non-reading-list Brotherton library, and I just can't think why, as the other one's a 60s monstrosity, and the Broth's marble, art deco YUM!

Permission to steal paragraph assessment of Classics for fun-starved housemates with four essays each to do? It made me laugh.

And if you give me questions I WILL answer them. I'm supposed to be planning an essay, you see.

on 2005-04-28 11:13 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
I can't believe it either! I'm shocked and appalled at my own temerity. I don't know why I'm so scared of it, it's completely irrational. I think it's the fear of being trapped? Not literally, but not being able to do anything other than work. I appreciate my regular tea breaks. The Classics fac is a breezebrick monstrosity, but it's our monstrosity and it's long and cosy with big windows and friendly computers. The Divinity faculty looks like some kind of enormous steel and glass ship. Apparently it won architectural awards, but it's a bit strange.

By all means steal the paragraph! This is what excessive essay-and-thesis writing does to my prose, clearly.

I can't think of interesting questions right now; brain no-worky. Tomorrow!

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on 2005-04-28 11:23 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] notintheseheels.livejournal.com
Well done for conquering the UL fear, I had/have exactly the same problem. I also know what you mean about the men in green cardigans, and the canteen is full of old men in well worn tweed jackets, who have obviously been in academia all their lives, complaining that there's usually a fruit salad option on wednesdays. Hope the work goes ok.

on 2005-04-29 10:44 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
thankyou! hopefully I will brave the UL again tomorrow. It's scary working in a library with GROWN-UPS in!

on 2005-04-29 07:25 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] lovelyoliver.livejournal.com
interview me!

on 2005-04-29 10:48 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
with pleasure!

1. tell me some lecherous gossip about someone I don't know.
2. name five songs that are good for drinking to.
3. what do you want your mates/loved ones/enemies (delete as appropriate) to do in honour of your death?
4. should you have been born in this generation? if not, when, and why?
5. what's the perfect way of spending a sunny Saturday?

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Posted by [identity profile] lovelyoliver.livejournal.com - on 2005-04-30 09:38 am (UTC) - Expand

on 2005-04-29 10:20 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mrpyro.livejournal.com
Please miss, can I have some questions?

on 2005-04-29 10:50 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
ooooh... *thinks*

1. what are your five favourite driving songs?
2. tell me about your most thrilling roleplaying experience.
3. if you lived in the world of His Dark Materials, what would your daemon be?
4. if you could have sex with anyone from the past, who would it be?
5. which alcoholic beverage are you most like?

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Posted by [identity profile] mrpyro.livejournal.com - on 2005-05-03 05:41 pm (UTC) - Expand

on 2005-04-29 11:08 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mirabehn.livejournal.com
Please may I have some questions?

I will be good and answer them. *smiles at you*

on 2005-04-29 10:54 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
1. what is your favourite summer recipe?
2. do you collect anything?
3. what would you put on an album entitled "[livejournal.com profile] libellum"? :)
4. which is your favourite season, and why?
5. (adapting a question from [livejournal.com profile] secutatrix) Monogamy notwithstanding, would you rather have mediocre mansex or really hot girlsex?

on 2005-04-29 04:01 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] suzerain.livejournal.com
I would rather enjoy if you were to ask away :)

on 2005-04-29 10:56 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
1. what's the best alcoholic drink for summer?
2. where do you want to travel next, and what will you do there?
3. the nuclear holocaust has started. You're allowed one backpack in the bunker, but nothing more. What do you take?
4. which talent do you wish you had?
5. what do you currently fear?

on 2005-04-30 09:05 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mirabehn.livejournal.com
Were this a public entry I would be trying to get everyone I know to read your answer to question 2, which has now inspired an even louder fit of giggles than the first time I read it. :-)

Is there any chance I could quote it on my LJ - in italics, giving full credit to you (and to [livejournal.com profile] thedivineoliver for asking the questions, of course)? It really does need to be seen by the world...

on 2005-04-30 09:09 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
there was no reason for it to be friends only other than habit - it's now public :)

on 2005-05-03 03:27 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] stopsignsongs.livejournal.com
actually it looks really rather fun. interview me? please?

on 2005-05-03 10:23 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] blackmetalbaz.livejournal.com
Go on. I need distraction from my th***s.

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