Tuesday, 24 November 2009

And now for something completely unexpected...

Short on stature as I am, and inspiration as well of late...I have sort it where any modern denizen of the internet would...on facebook.
Among all the many, varied, and at times disturbing suggestions for things I could lend my obsessive eye to, the one I found most oddly compelling was the request for finding out why I decided to teach.
I could tell the rather sad tale of awaking with a pounding headache in a pleasant enough council flat in East London and realising that at 25 I still hadn't done anything with my life - except perhaps drink a prodigious amount of real ale.
And it would be a sad but true story.
I could talk about the fact that after seven years at University I was still completely unemployable and the only thing I'd ever done that I was good at (other than be a straight A student despite appearances)was convincing other people they could pass their exams.
Appearances are a funny thing. I slept through the most academically rigourous course in the final year of my BA. I know this because all of my notes trail off after two lines and because the lecturer told me. He also told me about his vasectomy, so perhaps he was not the most objective source of information.
I had become good at sleeping in lectures. In my first year the lovely primatologist used to stop and ask for the person next to me to shake me because my snoring was disturbing peoples learning.
But you have to sleep sometime and lectures seemed a nice quiet place for that to happen.
I could point out that for the first couple of years I was teaching and definitely through that first year of training people didn't laugh when I said I was a teacher, they looked aghast and hunted about for who they could call to complain about falling standards.
I didn't like teaching when I started. It was hard work. I had to get up early. People in the staffroom didn't like it when I suggested in a most colloquial of fashions that some time spent getting sexually acquainted with themselves would indeed be well-spent.
My first HOD tried to get me fired. If I remember correctly he had been a fairly regular receipient of my advice...My second HOD also tried for to get me fired. My third HOD broke down in tears and couldn't deliver his farewell speech...so I guess things got better over time.
15 years later I get up early and go to school. Earlier than I ever did when I was attending as a student and had to be physically removed from my bed.
I could wax lyrical about the teaching profession and its value. But it would be platitudes. And perhaps not even something I believe. I work with good people, who do a good job and I'm no gooder than any of them.
I watched another class graduate tonight. And although there weren't as many tears as when I read Euripides, there may have been a moment of watery eyes.
Its not why I decided to teach that's important. Its why I keep doing it that's the real story.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Narcissists in Tight Pants

Narcissus – the figure from classical mythology and not the charming flower named after him, was a boy so beautiful he fell in love with his own image. Now I don’t know any boys that pretty these days, but it’s a feeling that isn’t too foreign…

Aren’t we all just a little attracted to those aspects of ourselves we see in others? Or am I alone in this narcissism?

The thing is, I’ve been doing those “Which Firefly character are you?” quizzes. And 100% of tests tested brought the result…drum roll please…Captain Mal!. Yes, according to the highly scientific sciency stuff that quiz-makers do – I like to wear braces, push people into spacecraft engines and wear very tight pants. Very tight.

Shiny I say. I’m big and brave and self-sacrificing. Oh and moody, crap at relationships and with a tendency to acts of extreme violence. Apparently I’m also loyal, a great leader and pretty damn smart. The flipside – I have a thing for power, have lost my faith (in what, in what!?!) and I never clean my room.

Now while some of the above may fit and I’m prepared to wear the tight pants on this one; it got me to thinking. Its no secret that if I could swap ten years of time on Old Earth for 10 minutes with the Captain; I’d be signing up for it…so surely that would mean I’d identify with his potential love-interest? Surely…?

But what I’m identifying with instead are all the things I see in myself. And though I’ve never been faced with a horde of hungry Reavers, I reckon I can make a fair guess at what I’d do…Which leads me to the conclusion that I fancy the Captain not for the tightness of his pants but rather his psychological similarity to my own self-identified character traits.

So having self-diagnosed narcissic personality disorder, I got to thinking some more. And as so often happens when I let my mind wonder, it was slash I was thinking about.

I’ve put a lot of thought into what it is about slash that makes it so…compelling (yes, that’s the word I was looking for). And surely some sort of transferred wish-fulfilment must be right up there. So when I’m enjoying a bit of Mal/Simon or maybe even a dirty little piece of Mal/Jayne am I just being a voyeur and watching two bits of hotstuff at it? Or am I identifying with one of my BDHs? And which one?

And why, given I’m not a gay man, am I reading about acts I don’t even have the equipment to carry out?

I think the narcissism finally answers some of these age-old questions. If I identify as Mal but also want to get freaky with myMalself then it makes some sense to find him some sort of object to carry that lust out on. Because lets face it pages of the Captain self-“loving” just wouldn’t be that fun to read…though I’d be prepared to give it a go…for research purposes…

One way or another, I think the narcissic self wishes to have the experience of intimate relations with the beloved – the self as other - and one way of doing that is reading about the self/beloved getting it away in an enthusiastic manner.

And having established that, I’ll be accepting donations for the several years of therapy I clearly need.