We have been social here for a while, and now it is wearing rather thin, so I’m looking forward to shutting the door and retreating behind closed blinds and curtains. But I can’t do that since there is a formal this weekend, and I will have to attend it. Furthermore there is a birthday, and I have to go there too.
I have checked out an old diary from the digital library, and I am working my way through the digitalized prints. The original had this old, brown paper, and the handwriting is thin and elaborate, so I’m having a bit of difficulty reading it. I suppose that with time, it will become easier.
The diary is interesting; a very frank and direct and long-form one made by an early Edwardian woman in her twenties. In between her worries about marriage and the future, there’s a sharp mind. What is interesting is how alien the person seem to be, and at the same time how familiar.
The problem of reading things like this is, to a degree, the same as reading a text in ancient Minoan. The writer assumes that the reader is completely familiar with the milieu at the time of the writing. Since it’s a diary, never meant for anyone’s eyes but her own, it is even more detached. It is then difficult to read the diary with modern eyes, and modern sympathies. It is like reading a text from a culture one knows nothing about, and the author just assumes that all the cultural contexts and cues are perfectly plain to everyone.
There’s a quite intense incident with some builders who come to build a wing to their house, and the venomous dislike of this woman for the ‘low creatures that constantly interrupt her’ shines through. The incident is when she goes out and orders the builders to stay away from her and to be quiet. She is so certain in her superiority and in her place in the hierarchy, far above them. And she just assumes that it is as it should be.
It is hard to like her after reading it. And if it’s hard to like her, then it is hard to get into her mind and understand her. Since I’m writing a paper on her, it’s a challenge academically as well. I think, in a way, that I would feel the same if this was a diary written by a slave owner from the Southern USA, or a dedicated SS soldier, or a priest for Quetzalcoatl. The assumptions of the writers are quite bad, and that makes it hard to keep up some bond of interest and sympathy from a modern reader.
Tomorrow it’s Friday. I would have looked forward to it, but as I said in the beginning, I have social functions coming up. I would have preferred to crawl inside Casa Marco et Colin for the weekend, but that’s not going to happen. Then, there’s another week of school. Next weekend, next weekend. But maybe by then my anti-social phase will have disappeared, and I’ll enjoy throwing myself into the social world of the average student in this town again.
Mark has spent two days digging into his Audi, because he has identified some flaw in it. From what he told me, when we took it out for a drive earlier this week, it had an off sound about it. I couldn’t, of course, say one way or another. When it comes to machinery, I trust his instincts. My driving consists of getting into the Toyota, driving from point A to point B with the car stereo on full. I wouldn’t hear a thing if the engine crashed beneath me.
He has also started to make a new batch of beer with his father. His father came over the other day, and together they started two plastic barrels. One will be moved to Wiltshire when it’s finished. The other, we will keep. So, for now, it looks like we’re set for cheep beer for a while. Not that it will last that long. We have all those social things all the time.
Otherwise life goes on. As always.