Tag Archives: Thoughts

Why don’t you tell me what to write?

I don’t initiate well, but I do follow commands so I’ll do this: I’m opening up to the floor (that is, the comments below) for suggestions of topics for a series of posts of “My Thoughts on…” The suggestion will remove any feelings of awkwardness on my parts for the selection of topics.

If you’re just visiting the blog, feel free to let your relative anonymity be your shield and drop some contentious, obscure or incredibly deep topics for me to try and deal with. Comment on this note with your suggestions.

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Update – Spring 2009

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything, not for want of things happening, but rather for an overwhelming amount of things that have been happening. Life has changed substantially over the last while. Big, exciting news is that I’ve got a job editing law articles at the University, which makes me sound way more grown up and important than I am. Still, it’s a salary and half an office. So, yeah.

Also, my column in the campus newspaper has been renewed which means another year of trying to be vaguely funny. I’ve started putting the archive up on the blog. (Carbon Copy Tab)

Additionally I have no home for next year. This is possibly the least exciting thing that has happened to me, but we live we learn and we pray that people cancel their residence places.

I worry (and worry is the correct word) that I’ll start to write more about how I feel and less about the TV and movies I watch: things (personal things) seem so much more important now than they used to. Or perhaps it’s that I’m a little more open to admitting that I actually have emotions. Well, I do. So much so that I think I might be the most emotional person in my family. So maybe you can expect a couple more revealing posts: posts about how much I’m anticipating my sister joining me in Stellenbosch, about how much my friends have meant to me over the past four years, about how I’ve grown. I’ll have to balance it out with a lot of irreverent humour, but perhaps it’s time to share a little more. This blog is supposed to be about me practicing my writing by focusing on things I enjoy and have experienced. And I’ve certainly increased my realm of experience. Maybe it’s time my writing reflected that.

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101 Books to Read Before You Die : Catcher in the Rye

 You know, sometimes a book just comes along at just the right time. I’m not saying that at any other time it wouldn’t have been a decent book, but if it arrives at just the right time then you can take a little more of it with you, you know. Well, Catcher in the Rye was like that. I can’t say I was too excited about reading Catcher, I’d heard some pretty bad reports about it and those things tend to stick in your mind. I mean, I try to be an open minded kind of guy, but it’s hard when people keep filling up your open mind, that’s all. Well, I got Catcher and I wasn’t keen as I said, but I read it anyway ‘cause it was on the list and all and you know what? It was pretty good. Pretty great actually. I was only a couple of pages in I was really feeling this Holden character who is the main guy. He’s not like the hero or anything like that. He doesn’t go around and beat people up and save princesses and show off some phony smile, but he’s a nice guy. Well, even though he’s a nice guy he’s having some problems cause he’s just been kicked out of school and it’s not the first time, you know what I mean? Anyway, it probably wasn’t a bad thing that he was kicked out of that school because this school he was in was basically lousy with phony guys; teachers and pupils. So this Holden guys been kicked out and he decides to spend the weekend in New York before going home. He lives in New York, so it’s not out of his way, but he just doesn’t want to face his parents; you understand I’m sure. That’s the whole plot really. The whole book takes place in those 48 hours. It’s kind of a different book cause the way it’s written it’s like you can hear this Holden guys thoughts. Wait, it’s not quite like that, it’s more like he’s just telling you his thoughts and even though it’s his thoughts he still isn’t completely truthful, but who is you know? Anyway, the more you listen the more you understand what’s eating him up inside and maybe he’s wrong about some things but the stuff he’s feeling, that’s right, I mean, it’s something that people feel and think about. He might be a little bit of a messed up kid, but he’s a good guy, someone who loves his family and cares about people, not in a phony sort of way, but in a real way, a way that seems to sit in his chest like a solid thing. It’s kind of sad, cause of a couple of things that I don’t want to tell you right now, but in the end this is the story of what happens when you think about life and try to understand your place in it, which is something that sounds all stupid and philosophical, but which is something that really does plague a lot of us. So that’s what it is, this sixteen year old kid just revealing himself by talking long enough about whatever comes to mind. Man, it was good. Some people might be a little offended cause he swears a bit, but he’s sixteen you know, that’s what sixteen year olds do. But he doesn’t mean it, cause if you look at what he thinks of Jesus and God and that sort of stuff, he’s kind of respectful and all. So I thought it was okay. I just really sympathized with this guy who was so lonely and cared about his family, but just had no idea where he fits in in the world.  So it was a good book and I’m not like, trying to force you to read it or anything, but if you did maybe it would be good for you and your doubts about, well, about yourself. I know it was for me.

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Being an English South African

An unavoidable part of being a student at Stellenbosch is exposure to Afrikaans. An unavoidable part of being Afrikaans is having to confront the place of Afrikaans in modern South Africa. I’ve been blessed with many friends who take great pains to ensure that they aren’t living an unexamined life and so I have been privy to a number of discussions around the topic of what it means to be Afrikaans. In response, I’ve begun to try and formulate what it means to be English and South African.

 There are a lot of Posts that can be attached to the average English-South African: Post-Modern, Post-Colonial, Post-Imperial. To be English is to defined by things the things that no longer apply to you. To have more than a millennium of history behind you, but at the same time having that be totally irrelevant is quite an experience.

 We are the vestiges of a failed empire, a people who spread their dominance across the globe and then withdrew to their island leaving us, the former colonials sitting around, twiddling our thumbs.

 The now politically-correctly named South African War (that which was once the Boer War) should really have painted us as the vicious imperial oppressors that we in fact were, but one of the by-products of Apartheid was that it cast Afrikaners as the truly evil race, elevated Afrikaans to the language of the overlord and, as many ANC members fled into exile, allowed the English to be slightly more acceptable.  

 I was born in South Africa. I’ve never left Africa. England is something that happens to other people on TV. As I go about my daily life, I am witness to the pulse and rhythms of Africa. And yet. The echoes of the English still reach out across the vast distances, but the message it sends is strangely contradictory: a message of astonishing success and astounding failure. The English conquered the entire globe and brought about a near universal culture, but a universal empire eluded them. English has been accepted by the globe and as a result there is little to distinguish us from the world. The universal acceptability of the English language has only served to sunder us from our identity. When your language is merely a medium and no longer a descriptor more is needed to strengthen the bond of kinship. The colonials, far from the unifying problems and daily experiences of the British Nation, lost something of their Britishness and could replace it with nothing else.

 As so it is that there is a universal feeling that the best of our days have past; a global ennui. Why pursue glory again when we know it to be folly? All the striving to propel ourselves forward on the global stage is futile. That knowledge, forever at the back of our minds means that nothing we attempt can be done in earnest.

 South Africa. Despite my being born here this land did not give birth to me. The events that defined my culture happened an age ago in lands that I have never seen. The truth is that although I may care deeply for this land, it does not belong to me.

 And yet it has accepted me. I feel as if this land, knowing that my people had no-where else to go, adopted us. I’m left with the feeling of a child who knows that he doesn’t really belong, to whom everything received is a gift. Who am I to complain? Who am I to day what is right and what is wrong when all that I experience has been freely given to me, undeserving. All I can do with earnestness is to love this country for the place it has provided for me.

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