This morning, I walked over to the English department office and submitted the three essays, each composed of 4,000 words, that I have been working on for the past month. My roommate had told me that writing these essays have made me insane. To some extent, I agree. Before this term, I had not ever written an essay on literature before the 20th century. I simply never had a taste for the English canon of literature. But, by the end of this term, I had amassed over 24,000 words (~75 pages) dedicated to everything from the Elizabethan Era, the Eighteenth Century, and the Victorian Period. I cannot talk about anything other than literature anymore.
I walked out of my English department building weary. Although I have gotten a good sleep throughout this entire semester, all I wanted was to escape literature for just a moment. No more mentions of Romeo and Juliet or Jane Eyre or Elegy Written on a Country Churchyard. It did not help that I had a scare about failing three English classes that semester because I had lost my marked tutorial essays. I’ll write about how that affected my understanding of determinism some day. I dropped my portfolio into a folder, I walked out, I walked around the corner to pick up a bowl of barley soup from the Hare Krishna stand, and I sat in silence, thus ending my studies in English literature at UCL.
The first stop I made was Curry’s PC World. It has been my first stop after every essay that I had submitted this term. I played around two hours of Starcraft II, and then I realized that I no longer enjoy playing Starcraft II. Then, I decided that I no longer want to play Starcraft II at Curry’s PC World any longer. Although I am a foreigner here in the UK, for some reason, I never felt the need previously to go to tourist sites. I derived more fulfillment from simple pleasures such as playing Starcraft at Curry’s PC World or eating Wasabi after 8 p.m. But, it dawned on me that I have less than a month left in the UK. Now, I am in tourist mode again.
After my realization , I took the Victoria Line down to Pimlico, where I walked into the Tate Britain. There were a couple of paintings that I recognized such as Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth by John Singer Sargent, mainly because it is the cover photo of The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare. I found the incident humorous. I felt oddly pretentious for being able to articulate the context of the painting from reading Shakespeare’s Macbeth without researching the painting beforehand, but at the same time, I also felt prideful that my education this semester had amounted to some sort of real world application, such as understanding the context behind a single painting at the art museum. I still don’t know what to think of the situation.
There was also an exhibit on Don McCullin’s photography. It was as paid exhibit, but I accidentally wandered into when I entered a door that turned out to be the exit of the exhibit. I’m not sure how I feel about that either. As a photojournalist, McCullin captures people during states of humanitarian crisis. He also had some philosophies regarding the motivations to photograph, which goes something along the lines of: if you feel something, take a photo, and if you don’t feel something, then don’t take a photo. His photos were quite inspirational, and although the subject of his photography is quite distant from my life, his exhibit did inspire me to document my intense feelings throughout my own life more, especially those within my relationships to others.
After I left the museum, I stopped by a Pret a Manger to pick up a coffee and a duck with hoisin sauce wrap. The simple filtered coffee that I order from Pret always amazes me at how they could pack so much warmness into such a nimble sip. Every sip of coffee from Pret always throws me back to the time I drank Pret coffee for the first time at the Pret inside Huntsman Hall. Compared to the alternatives on campus such as Starbucks, which I have always considered to be more ashy and acrid, Pret had always captivated me with its mellow and glowing tones, and I am so grateful for the abundance of Pret in London. Warm, warm everywhere!
I started along A3214 and wandered upon Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. There were a lot of tourists there. I didn’t think too much of it. It is another big church, with a lot of gold inside. At this point, I don’t think I can be impressed by churches anymore. If anything, the more big churches I see, the more disillusioned I become religious institutions as a whole. If the creation of these churches in a religion that supposedly values humility isn’t an abuse of power, then what is? As for Buckingham Palace, it is a palace that houses people, I suppose. I really like the park that is next to it though. There was a fountain that played with my sense of balance. It was really cool.
I ended my excursions at the Waterstones at Piccadilly Circus, which is one of the biggest bookstores in Europe at six stories tall. As always, I searched for the philosophy section as soon as possible, which had been located on the fourth floor. After I briefly scanned the selection, I picked up Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy by John Armstrong. I read a couple of chapters before setting the book down. I learned about the applications of Wittgensteinian linguistics in defining love, among other things. He had some hot takes. His writing is accessible and insightful. I will probably finish the book after I make another trip to Waterstones some day.
I returned to my house a bit after the sun had set. Now, I am tired once again. I want to write another essay on literature. Sad!