Edinburgh sun on my skin

Edinburgh Expeditions

On a rare day of sun, I found myself far and away from my computer. I was across town, in the Corstorphine neighborhood. Needing a break from writing, I walked. I strolled, I looked through the gorgeous, affluent neighborhoods, admiring the gardens and the stately architecture.

The Houses

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

This building was just a street over from the bus stop. I took a bit of a detour in my wanderings today, going down a road I had never been before. I was struck by the clear blue sky and the building’s warmth. The colours were fantastic, so very Edinburgh.

Rather than a customary visit to a friend’s (he was in another part of town), I decide to enjoy the sunshine and my solitude and wander through the Water of Leith walk. The walkway goes along the Water of Leith, a wooded path by a stream. It’s so different from the rest of the city, a taste of nature amongst the stone. It’s like being in a different place.

Water of Leith

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

With the madness of the Fringe, the insanity of my dissertation, the regular hustle and bustle of every day life, it was refreshing to step aside, to walk through nature, to contemplate, to smile and to feel the sun on my (pasty, computer-sapped-all-remaining-colour) skin.

The Willows

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

The sun reminded me of something very important. Sometimes we need to set aside the stresses of every day life. The responsibilities that we find ourselves surrounded by. I need to let go, and just be.

We are what we consume.

Edinburgh Expeditions

One thing that I try to do every week (or at the very least, every month) is attend events at Inspace, the University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum’s art space. The events I try to attend “blind.” I get the event emails from New Media Scotland, and sign up for the various events. I’ve attended lectures on memory and music (which resulted in my showing my inability to use a turntable in front of 75 people), a Pecha Kucha night (in which I stood up in front of a separate group of 75 and told stories of falling off of Arthur’s Seat), and a presentation by the Information Delivery Service (which resulted in no ridiculous stories from me).

IDS is a student cooperative fascinated with information, its readiness, their desire to have it all. The lecture, which I found interesting, was filled with information overload (and rather disjointed, lacking any coherent narrative flow, from which it would have benefited greatly). It did, however, leave me to contemplate how what we consume and create develops our identities.

I’ve recently started using Pinterest, that incredibly popular photo/lifestyle/dream-sharing website that’s been critiqued for everything from creating desires for unattainable lifestyles to dubious copyright infringement. What’s struck me as fascinating is, apart from its addictive qualities, Pinterest is able to give a ‘look’ to how we identify and how we wish to identify. It’s a means, like the Facebook info page, to divulge bits and pieces about ourselves to the world.

We are what we consume. We’re made up of the books that we read, the music that we listen to, the clothing that we wear. We identify through media, with ourselves and with each other. When getting to know one another, we ask about what sort of books we read, movies we watch, music we listen to. We find common ground and relate to it, often through what we enjoy.

If one were to look at my bookshelf, one would find a few books of critical theory (Guattari, Ranciere, Postman and McLuhan), philosophy (Hume and Marcus Aurelius), novels (John LeCarre and Margaret Atwood coexist, Raymond Chandler recently moved to the bedside table), my DVD collection of The Prisoner, a small CD collection (The Smiths and The Jam), and a few art books (exhibition guide to The Queen Art & Image, the exhibit I saw on my first day in Edinburgh). One can start to suss things out about me, just from what I choose to share about my intellectual consumption. I’m interested in media and environments, spies, and music made before I was born.

I see the world filtered through what I consume. Far too much of what I experience or think about is influenced by The Prisoner, even my potential dissertation topic for this degree. The thought of being without my DVDs in a foreign country was too much to bear. I even started reading books like Le Carre’s for research before realising how much I love them (okay, I’ve always enjoyed these stories, far more than I have the books that I’m “supposed to like”).

And I hate for the pretension that comes with saying, “I am an artist” but it’s true. I am an amateur painter, perhaps someday a professional digital artist (my dissertation, with hope, will kickstart that). But I read books on art, I examine it, I enjoy it, I consume it.

The presentation made me think only of this.

If you could talk to any deceased historical figure, who would it be?

General Geekiness

I was listening to the radio station and they were discussing who you would want to talk to once you get to heaven. Family not permitted.

The listeners said everything from Jim Morrison (is he really dead?) to Marilyn Monroe (what happened?) to Lee Harvey Oswald (was there another gunman?)

Which got me thinking. Who would I want to talk to? If I had to choose one, who would it be? I’m defining historical figure as: “anyone who contributed to history and the creation of the current culture.” Which is what the radio station used.

The more I think, the more names I come up with. First to pop into my head were Winston Churchill, Roald Dahl and Alfred Hitchcock. With a little more thought, Sandro Botticelli, Dante Alighieri, Victor Hugo and Eugene Delacroix wandered on in (I’m hoping I have a Babel Fish for this).

But why not Jim Henson, Queen Elizabeth I, or Patrick McGoohan? Andrea del Sarto? Or Steve McQueen?

I’m leaning to Botticelli, Delacroix or del Sarto. We can talk art shop and it’ll be pretty sweet.

I clearly cannot make up my mind. I have the same issue when trying to answer the “If You Could Have Dinner with any Five People, Who?”

The problem with having so many interests is, well, being so interested. I’m not sure if I’d want to speak with an artist (visual, written or an actor), or a politician.

Which begs me to wonder: can I just go on a historical figure speed dating circuit?

English Major Nerdiness Ahead (consider yourself warned).

General Geekiness

Hipster Beauty & the Beast

This kind of sums up my life at the moment (actually, for the year). But let’s substitute “Foucault” for “Kenneth Burke”. Alas, he is an American theorist, not a French dude. Still, love it.

Some days I wonder why I just didn’t read Foucault for my paper. And then other days, my brain thanks me. And thanks me even more for not reading Derrida. Because I am zombified after Derrida. Burke’s pretty straight forward for a theorist. And I like him for that.

More thesis updates: the paper has been titled. My final draft is due Friday. It will be excellent.

Existential inspiration

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

carpe-diemI knew I signed up for Human Nature for a reason. And not just to fulfill a general requirement.

At the moment, I’m knee deep in a paper about existentialism in Dead Poets Society. While debating bad faith in SPOILER Neil’s suicide, I realized something.

My novel just got a swift kick courtesy of existentialism.