So I’m back in the UK. I half expected the Customs officer at the airport to ask ‘business or pleasure’? (Do they even do that anymore?) And I would have to explain ‘well neither really, I’m just here to tie some loose PhD ends.’ I’m staying at a cheap (but nice) hotel 200m away from the tiny, warm and lovely apartment I lived in for 3 years with my boyfriend. But now I’m here alone, for just three days, strictly business (after all).
Minutes before I landed, I finished reading a book I started two months ago (the last 160 pages were supposed to last me for three days, but alas). I’ll admit I enjoyed it a lot, even the bits about maths (which was like reading a strange foreign language), the beauty of prime numbers, code-breaking, and paradoxes. I especially enjoyed the paradoxes and mind-boggling puzzles. But by the end it left me feeling…well, guilty. The book I’m talking about is PoPCo by Scarlett Thomas. I don’t want to go into specifics but it left a sour taste in my mouth, and a series of uncomfortable and unsettling thoughts about what we’re doing, where we’re going (as a species), how we’re destroying everything, exploiting people, etc. But the biggest issue was lies. The lies we tell ourselves (to feel better), the lies we tell others (to “protect” them, keep them in the dark, keep the subdued), and the general state of dishonesty the world is in at the moment. And of course, the fact that although we know a lot of what is going on we choose to do nothing and say nothing while we continue living our lives.
I literally don’t know what to say. I think I’ve had this conversation before quite a few times, on both a profound and a shallow level with several people. But these conversations never end, they couldn’t, otherwise we’d have solved the problem already. It vaguely reminds me of what I’ve been reading on ideology for the past few months. Again, overwhelming, staggering, confusing notions whose beginning and end become so muddled and obscure that you end up throwing your hands up in the air in resignation (i.e. the easy way out).
So yes, I’ll say it…what can you do? I know, I know, lots of things. But seriously. Tell me.
I’ll close by saying (once again) that this is just food for thought, but it just seems that lately guilt has been the feature emotion about most aspects of my life, and let me tell you, it kinda sucks.