We are then thrust into the comfortable groove of habit and comfort so that we stop seeing that which is in front of us, and start to obsess about that which chafes and challenges. We become the uncritical grey mass that doesn’t spend too much time examining things critically.
So in fifty years time I’m going to sit down and realise that I’ve spent my life regurgitating what I’m reading in these stupid books here, without contributing one original thought. I’ll memorize some quote which I’ll use to impress at the academic parties, and people will think I’m really clever, and it will all be a lie because I’ve done nothing. Just word-vomited some obscurity I’ve picked up along the way.
I watched Mark yesterday, when he sat with his doodle-pad, and I watched him scratch, etch and erase and then add new. He has this intense look on his face when he does, like nothing else exist but what he’s writing on the paper. I’m not even sure I exist in those moments, just his hands trailing across the pad and the pen and the sound of the point scratching against the paper.
I know that I have to say his name several times for him to look up, and when he does it’s like he’s yanked out of some private world of numbers and graphs, and he’s surprised to see me. As if he, in that moment, remembers me again. And then I can think about my obscure poets and dead philosophers, and the long-gone writers whose words I dutifully copy into my note-books as if they’ll contribute anything new by mere repetition.
This was hit home to me when I, Abbie and Ben met up down at the Witherspoon’s where all the cool students like us hang out, and there was this guy and girl there at the next table, and it was clear that the guy wanted to get into the girl’s knickers, and the way he tried to it was to regurgitate what he’d read in the literature books. No analysis, no originality, just straight up verbatim quoting as if he had come up with the ideas himself.
And I thought, am I not doing that myself? And I don’t know the answer to that question because I don’t know if that is good or bad. It sometimes seems like we’re slipping into a groove of habit and comfort in our lives, and instead of thinking and looking and listening, we’re submerging into the unthinking bourgeoisie. Until those moments when Mark’s pen scratches along a pad, and I realise that he’s not.
Sometimes it feels like being left trailing, somehow. I’ve never felt like I’m the stupid one. I could always throw up that defence, that arrogant little ‘but at least I’m smarter than that Neanderthal’. Except now I’m coasting along on quotes, memorization, and unoriginality. Content to do what that guy in the pub did, except smeared all over my life.