Kelly DeVries is rightly proud of this unappreciated paper and to help disseminate its message of historical empathy, I will give it another small place in the internet for people to find:
..but apparently, little interest in writing for it. That’s a shame, since it does contain rather a lot of stuff I wanted to write, and keep, sometime in the past. Ah, Oxford, how bad you were for my soul (not that I believe in souls mind you, but it’s more poetic than ‘Oxford, you (the abstract entity best identified as Oxford, representing 3 years of living abroad) were not constructive to my sense of self, my confidence, or emotional stability.’
Let’s stick with the poetic.
I have lost count of how many times I have written this blog entry or variations on it, over the last five weeks. It probably doesn’t matter. The process was more important than the resulting text and odds are very good that there are far better, more compelling, more readable, versions if this that will never appear online, and so it should be. This blog was always designed as a means to enable the writing process, and that process was always more important than the product that did, or did not, find its way here. Nothing I have written, with this blog in mind, needed completion and uploading but there is a motivational value in having that option. That was essential, really, because the value of practice and conditioned habits do not have the power themselves to motivate the writer.
There is some dark comfort in the knowledge that all works of creativity, given enough time in production, is transformed through a bitter alchemy, into something the creator hates. Ask any artist in any medium, or any writer who feels there is a place for art in any string of words, and they will tell you the same thing, in similar but more effective words. Given time, every masterpiece becomes, in the eyes of its creator, a tragedy that can’t be stopped. I know this because I have been there before; staring at some lump of metal that I knew was done because I hated it. My thesis is not done, but I hate it anyway. That’s probably for the good. It’s not long from being finished.
He was reluctant to continue towards the dim wall that surrounded the city. Seeing this, the Queen said “think of this as a performance for a very small audience. You have a persona for your performances elsewhere, of course?”
The Doctor nodded.
“You must adopt a persona here as well, if you intend to travel further.”
“I am not much of an actor”, he said.
“Nonsense. Be still, be quiet, and your audience will do the acting for you, seeing what they expect to see, not what you think they see.”
They stood and continued down the uneven steps towards the gates.
[From The King and the Queen City, an unpublished and unwritten book in the Oxford Noir series]
It took some careful persuasion, and half a bottle of college port, before the Bursar eventually explained why there was no portrait of the late Master in the great hall. The Master refused to sit for said portrait in life but he granted permission to his executors to arrange a sitting post mortem. The result, admittedly regal and compelling, was rightfully considered too visceral for the undergraduates that would sit beneath its hollow gaze. Fittingly, the portrait was removed to the stairway outside the graduate tutor’s office where passers-by were more comforted than unsettled.
[from the unpublished and unwritten Oxford Noir]
When they were seated, and after a long pause, the man spoke to the King. ‘My cat is mortal.’
The King, being a sensitive observer of his subjects, knew this was more complaint than statement of fact. The man continued almost inaudibly ‘this is unacceptable.’
The King answered ‘indeed.’
‘And what then’, the man asked expectantly, ‘are the limits of your power?’
‘In this regard,’ said the King, ‘my powers are of no value at all… at all.’
‘Indeed’, said the man.
‘indeed’, said the Queen.
‘indeed’, said the city of the dead.
[From the 4th book in the unpublished and unwritten Oxford Noir series: The King and the Queen City.]