Sunday, 10 January 2021

DON’T FORGET YOUR BOOKS [277]


Childhood is meant to the happiest time of your life. I believe mine should always be ahead of me, but the time I spent working for my degree in film studies, from 2001 to 2004, is definitely up there. I was more aware of the world than in childhood, but still without the responsibility – everywhere was open, especially my mind. The person I am today was formed then – curious, sceptic, and voracious for knowledge. I just need to feel like I need to know more about, well, anything and everything - I may have the degree, but the research never stopped.

I had never before properly examined why I became interested in postmodernism and postmodernity during this febrile time but, fortunately, my degree notes and other things from the time have all been splendidly preserved. I have four lever-arch folders for my degree notes, and another one for all the other subjects I picked up along the way, along with a further wire-bound notebook. I did not realise I essentially had two projects on the go at the same time.

The earliest notes I have on postmodernism date from May 2002, and at that time, with the World Wide Web still relatively empty in comparison to today, libraries were still the place to find your primary and secondary resources – it took until my third and final year of my degree before I wrote an essay that used a website as a reference. The sections for both film and postmodernism were on the same floor, but the photocopiers were on a different floor – I only remember this because a number of books I used at the time, but have bought second-hand cheaply since, were not to be removed from the premises, so there was a lot of note-taking and photocopying to be done.

The books on postmodernism were on the same floor in the library, but their setting was a little more dramatic – they were in a separate room, accessed through a set of double doors, with a couple of steps down to the floor – it felt a bit like a mismatched extension to the existing building. Among the sections in this room were the books on “Philosophical Systems,” which is category 140 in the Dewey Decimal System for filing library books. I was looking into Buddhism a bit at the time, not that I have kept up with it much – Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that, unlike Christianity, Buddhism doesn’t promise anything, but at least it keeps that promise.

Further on through the shelves, you get to category 149.9, “Other Philosophic Systems,” where Postmodernism is placed. It looks like I started with Buddhism, and carried on down the line, because I apparently have notes on cultural identity in cyberspace, and on “post-humanity” – somehow, I hadn’t watched “Blade Runner” yet. From there, I made a huge number of notes, copying whole passages out of books, and doing a largely good job of citing my sources to myself, which made finding the books themselves years later very easily.

So, I put myself in the right place to come across the right books, but at the same time, I have to consider that I was there primarily to look at the modernist art form of film, requiring me to learn how reality is constructed by art, and how art constructs reality. This focus is then turbocharged by postmodernist thought that exists to play about with what I am learning in those film classes. I gave myself an awful lot of homework, which I will look at next time.

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