If I could steal anything…

I’d steal a library. Yep, how sad is that? Not the crown jewels, not enough money to live for ever, not the heart of the one I love, I want a library. Every book ever written. I want that library from Beauty and the Beast, ever nook and cranny of my house filled with pages of words, stair cases lined with them, shelf after shelf of classics. Its sad I am aware but I do love my books. I love the escapism. I love the way a new book smells, I love reading a book and not breaking the spine. I love seeing a full bookcase of books I’ve read, of those I’m about too, full of little gems.

There are so many books we never get to read, so many great writers that remain obscure, lost in a vast collection that we don’t appreciate. They could be our new favourite, they could have written that book that we read over and over and over. I’d read every spine, every blurb. If I liked it, read a chapter and if I get into it – keep it. I’d make my library stocked with the books I love, with the stuff I want to read, with the things I find interesting.

From poetry, to fact, from fiction to novella, from romantics to Augustine, Victorian to Georgian, from modernism to american, to Gothic and graphic. Erotica, horror, thriller… I’d want them all. To read and read and read. I sat down and read, for Uni, Rasselas, a novel of Augustine Literature. it was about a man trying to to escape paradise in a hope to discover what life was, what made people happy. They went in search of the rich, the poor, the middle ground, the critics, the philosophers, the poets and the leaders, and they all came to some conclusion.

The overall outcome? we can’t all be happy all the time, but we must try to pursue what does make us happy. I’d want knowledge, to learn, eternally, to not work but sit and learn, read, research, reiterate, rediscover – love. There is nothing more exciting and fulfilling than knowledge that of experience or facts or understanding. Of ancient histories and arts, of society and psychology, of art and science.

I know I sound like a massive English toff. I am no academic, I am not the smartest of my classes nor the most profound. I do not write ground-breaking essays of understand things as well as I should, but I do love to learn, to ponder, to think, to muse, to wonder. It’s in my nature to be inquisitive. I get obsessive over a subject I discover for the first time, I want to know everything, to read everything, to understand, to penetrate its core. I’ve been obsessed with researching serial killers and then psychology behind murders, to suddenly being obsessed with epistemology, the theory of knowledge of how we learn, to the life of 1950’s women post war and then to learning about astronomy.

If I could steal anything, I’d steal a library and lend books forever, share my passion with others, decorate my surroundings with the pages, and submerge myself in a world of poetry and prose.

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The Eternal Learner…

For me there is nothing greater than studying. I know that sounds clichéd, and like one of the sentences I’m spun at University, about becoming more than just a degree, becoming an academic – but its true. I love studying. Ever since a young child I loved school, I loved the idea of learning, of feeling myself getting cleverer, storing information in my memory banks to draw upon, having those light bulb moments when suddenly everything makes a little more sense, you understand everything a little bit more.

Of course when you’re a child that happens almost continually. You are more or less bombarded with a new slice of information, slither of experience or newly figured fact on a minute by minute basis. As we get older, that seems to change. Suddenly we understand the basics, we have the answers to the simple stuff, how to read, write, (in my case, attempt) maths, science… our biology. It’s all there and readily explained. We’ve drawn our conclusions on our basic views, our opinions on the big stuff, religion, family, politics, education… We’re already quite formed.

What do we learn as adults? Relationships. There’s a wealth of experience and knowledge we continue to learn there, about ourselves more, with each new experience comes a moment of self-awareness… learning to drive? That always seems an odd one, it’s the first time since a child when we learnt to walk, to ride a bike, to swim, we have to do something that seems completely impossible and illogical to us….

Studying, makes the world, my world, more interesting. The more I learn the more I feel I have to offer, to contribute, the more I understand the smaller things in life, the more opportunities I give myself. I reform opinions, have my ideas challenged and tested, have my intellect stretched, my own foundations undermined, and…. I love that feeling. I love learning something new. Studying English it’s almost something everyday, a new word for my vocabulary, a new concept or idea, historical, philosophical, psychological, sociological details I didn’t know before.

I love reading something I’ve never heard, researching something and discovering a new interest, going into the tiny details… I can feel myself brighten up with each new sentence or concept, my brain buzzing with questions, ideas, contradictions. I lose hours lost int he recesses of my brain processing, ordering, thinking, understanding. I love finding out about everything – anything. What really interests me  is the big picture stuff, culture, society, gender… to civilisations, history, the makings of man.

I study when I shouldn’t be studying, constantly undertaking a new course or programme to keep my mind active. I qualified as a TEFL teacher last summer and this took at Level Four, Educational Psychology, learning about studying – learning why I like studying, we like learning – studying about studying. It couldn’t have been a more perfect course… I’m reading and studying Epistemology, the theory of knowledge, after my degree I begin teacher training, a masters… I’ll never stop wanting to learn – it’s just me.

Everything is a learning experience. Reading, articles, the newspaper, novels, facts, watching programmes on life, on art, on culture, on history… Talking to people. Getting to know them, their story, imparting and sharing knowledge. Life is so rich, so full of amazing things; of knowledge, interesting people, of questions, I just want to enjoy and share it all. We never stop learning, so why don’t we embrace it whole heartedly and aim to learn something new, each and everyday. I certainly do, do you?

Words.

All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time” – Ernest Hemingway.

As an English student and qualified TEFL Teacher, I understand the importance of language, the qualities of which make it important, the uses of and flaws of it. I see the importance of it for communication, for expression, for understanding.

Yet something always perplexes me, why are we so hung up on some words? Words are but a series of letters, codes, to quote Derrida, signs that attribute to our sign system, encoding our ideologies and lives within them. But they are just symbols, a sound we make, to one another, a picture on a page.

We ascribe meaning to words. We created them, we adapted them, we invented them for our own purpose, so why be bothered by them, swear words spring to mind. Fuck, Shit, Bollocks, Ball Bags… Cunt. They are but words, but a series of letters and yet we place so much emphasis on them. Why? If we take away the meaning or their importance to us, then they cannot affect us.

I know you’ll be saying, it’s not the word, it’s the context, and that is totally true. The meaning, of a word, is only important in the context its said in. If someone tells you to F off, it’s the connotation of that phrase, rather than the word itself that causes the damage. But we created those connotations, the denotations of each word. We made them for self-expression, to describe something. As individuals therefore we have the power to react to them, to place importance on them as we see fit.

Words like race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, they are words that we use to describe an idea, yet their own linked words, become words of hate, their meanings evolve, adapt. They are used to hurt, to differentiate, to other as Edward Said would say. But then, don’t place emphasis on them. Take the word as it is intended.

We cannot stop people creating words to cause hurt, or to offend, Chav, Skank, Slut, they’re all words that we use to describe and to disassociate ourselves with others, but the second you choose to not be affected by them, you’re immune to them.

I swear, not continually but I do, sometimes the phrase, “I don’t give a fuck” can only express exactly the feeling I’m trying to explain. But it’s just a word, I’m using it for my own emphasis, with my reason, not yours.

Do not misunderstand me, I am not saying go out of your way to use words that offend, or to challenge those people who are affected by swearing or such, but if we could eliminate the meaning of words, if we could recast the connotations of phrases, how many words would become, just words.

We shouldn’t be so hung up on those with so little importance. We should focus on words like, loyalty, friendship, trust, truth love, integrity, morality, honesty, honour… pride. There are words that mean more to any of us than any swear, slang, or jibe could come close to. Place emphasis and importance on those. Do not us them when you don’t mean it, don’t degrade them with misuse or overuse.

I may have to eat my own words here, but as Churchill once said, “I have never developed indigestion from eating my own words”. A word is just a word. Take away your personal attachment to those that mean nothing, and place emphasis on those that you value, that represent and describe, you.

“Words are but symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us; nowhere do they touch upon absolute truth” – Friedrich Nietzsche