It is freezing cold outside, and it is going to snow – again. I just rearranged the furniture – again – for a bit of physical exercise and relief from feeling a bit stir crazy. For some reason moving the furniture around relaxes me though it does not have the same effect on the rest of the household. I suppose it could be an exercise in the philosophies of Lacan, Jakobson, metaphor and metonymy but, for me, it is a good way to clear my head and focus my thoughts.
Taking time to focus my thoughts feels urgent now because exam time suddenly seems wildly real instead of a distant, future date on my calendar. The sixty day gap between Ground Hog Day and Exam Day will close quickly; as quickly as the ground rushes up to meet me when I trip over Jelly Bean, my Collie Dog, while we are playing in the snow. Isn’t it funny how time seems to fly when it really does nothing of the sort?
Before time starts flying, I am trying to sort out how to prepare for exams. One great thing about working in the Advanced Units is that the exam days are sprinkled over a few weeks in May instead of on consecutive days like the Foundations Units are scheduled. That is a relief because I do not like taking them on consecutive days; it is exhausting and I have no time to clear my head in between papers. This year I have the luxury of revising between exam dates; that means time to re-arrange the furniture and have a good think about the literary topics at hand. Having the sofa in an unaccustomed place is a small price to pay for that kind of peace of mind. I am preparing for four units and have moved the furniture three times since August to help me think, or, going back to Lacan, to displace anxiety about study plans. Engaging in this kind of physical thinking makes me appreciate the links between condensation and metaphor, and displacement and metonymy. I can see it all rather clearly, my floor plans as a kind of metonymy for my study plans.
It is important to make sure my study plans are effective in the short time remaining before exams, hence the furniture moving. My first three seminars are done, and I have a week off before joining the groups analyzing poetry and plays. Somehow seminars always make me realize what amazing authors we study, and how incredibly marvelous these texts really are. Reading in the seminars is not to be missed.
I want to read every text as intensely and productively as we do in the seminars; that is what has me moving furniture this week. How can I organize my own reading and study time to be as productive as seminar study? What is it, exactly, about how the tutors focus questions that is so different from working outside of the seminars? Whatever it is, I am very grateful to the faculty who lead them, and for the focus, insights and pleasure they help me to gain while reading.
Next week I will begin a seminar on poetry, with quite a wonderful reading selection, then one on analyzing ‘The Tempest.’ I expect to displace the furniture at least one more time before settling down to revise for exams. It would be great to invite you over to study; whatever your position on Lacan and displacement please remember to check for the chair before sitting down.