Private Eye

[Amended from Original]

Matters are slowly taking shape. Rekindling earlier ideas in recent work has given birth to thought concerning tensions between the public and the private, the ethics of privacy and of conscience. To look at Marvell and Privacy seems perfect. There is plenty in the whole idea of Privacy.

I wonder if there evolved a language of privacy and of conscience. What about the notion of public as well, which is surely more complicated than the opposite of private? Defining privacy needs a lot of care, and no surprise that an edited collection of essays on ‘Privacy’ involve relevant chapters by a sociologist, a philosopher, a psychologist and experts in law. Words connected with privacy involve solitude, secrecy, autonomy, anonymity, censorship and confidentiality. It also reads interestingly in Milton’s Samson Agonistes: ‘That grounded maxim so rife and celebrated in the mouths of wisest men; that to the public good private respects must yield.’ Privacy relates closely to the modern day, with the ‘information age’, as it may now be termed, becoming the closest revolution in the wide distribution of available news and information since the formation of cheap print in the seventeenth century.

Last Wednesday, upon a hunch, I travelled up to Edinburgh to see Dr. Fox during his office hour. What a wonderful man. Courteous, elegant, unassuming, very interested and extremely helpful. I narrated the process of this year, and how this current crop of ideas had come to fruition, and asked a few small questions from which quite a lot materialised. I explained my hope to engrain a PhD topic out of the current project; as if to prepare the bigger picture, and for this year to write a smaller one. To this, he aspired confidence; he recommended that the ideas were definitely advanced enough to form the basis of an institutional application. Yes, such a gracious, charming man, who invited me to contact him again if ever I needed further help. I could not help, in the nature of my respect for him and his help, if he would sign my essay print-out. Dear man, he was modestly embarrassed, and delighted to. While normal people go for celebs, I relish academic paraphernalia.

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3 thoughts on “Private Eye

  1. Aye, I bet that on some level he was flattered to sign it, though probably confused as well! Maybe I’ll get Stephen to sign something, and Tom and Dave as well (The Big Three, as far as I’m concerned). But hmm, maybe Stephen J., as well.

    • And so! Despite you telling me how this was ‘not cool’ – ‘not the done thing’ – you have cottoned on to the idea 😉

      I remember telling David H. at the leavers party that I had acquired a copy of his Poets on Poets, and would very much like it signing – noting how sad it would have been to bring it along to the party for that purpose. He told me it would be a pleasure and to bring it along sometime. Obviously, that being right at the end of Pentad, that was always going to be a problem. One day, the chance may re-emerge. Thank you for reminding me: I should get into touch with the good Dr. S.C. I can apply for Royal Holloway online, and referees are notified electronically for their submittals – it would be polite to offer a little advance warning/acknowledgement. Have a fun time away: look forward to seeing you on Saturday!

      • My mind is awash with things ‘academic’ (‘Endemic’? ‘Epidemic’?’) at the moment. Am set to hear from the second graduate uni I applied to before Friday, and it is now Wednesday evening. Then, since I am home at the moment, I’ve had all the parental questioning about money and fees and living for next year. It’s complicated by the fact I didn’t tell them about the second application – they can’t understand why I’m dawdling about such a firm offer as Bristol (in their eyes, my sole offer). All of this just to be going there anyway when t’other place decides they’d rather not risk a mediocre student. I don’t mean to sound, of course, like Bristol is a second rate option; the fact I got in makes me happy. I think spending 3 years there has nulled my sense of how amazing and prestigious it actually is. Seeing the inner workings and becoming accustomed to being a Bristol student, I forget the sense of ‘wow’ I first had when offered a place. I’m now used to walking around the buildings, knowing the staff — yet sometimes I still tell people I’m at Bristol and they look impressed, and I’m like ‘Yeh… I guess’. So must drum that in.

        Last essay for DH completley bummed, I’m afraid – we’re talking 2.2-hood here. It was a minority, though, so that’s something.

        Must go, computer has to be switched off

        Much love

        Simon

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