13th April 2020

 

On this wonderfully sunny day, there is a moment of calm. Birds call out in song. Neighbours greet each other from a distance on their permitted daily walks. There is a chance to regroup. Many friends reaching out with projects to undertake – how to plan and carry out tutorials, guides, hang outs, pub quizzes and concerts. These events give us something both more and less. Relative deprivation, relative gratification.

 

Right now, in the taps-aff, vitamin-D-rich sunlight, I’m reading Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport, Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, and Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo. There are lots of really interesting approaches to (moving through) space in these narratives that might benefit from a less alphanumerical mathematical framework. Something more intuitively topological, object-oriented, arrangements of (and in) fields and codes.

 

At some point, I’ll need to also get round to my lockdown reading list. But, with the library shut I’m going to have some trouble getting a hold of Arka Chattopadhyay’s Becket, Lacan and the Mathematical Writing of the Real (2019), Hanjo Berressem’s Eigenvalue and Michael Tonder’s The Physics of Possibility: Victorian Fiction, Science, and Gender (2018). Baylee Brits’s Literary Infinities: Number and Narrative in Modern Fiction (2018) would also have been really useful to have around right now as I try to maintain focus on writing my chapter on Wallace and Mathematical Infinity for Cambridge University Press. This alongside the book proposal and other CPD activities – HE fellowship applications, virtual learning, social-media networking. Of course, I feel that I have everything I need to work productively on all my writing and training: time, space, distractionless quiet…

 

And then I remember why that is and spiral: vacillating between emergency-supply shopping and side-hustles (to not starve or get evicted), brain-rot tv, and other mindless and necessary procrastinations (to not burnout and meltdown). Deprived and gratified – relatively speaking.

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