Chichester – By @augustine_cerf
By Augustine Cerf
Time off over the Christmas holiday left me in a state of abjection, hovering between Term 1 and Term 2 like a child first separated from its mother, not yet a fully formed self, a fluid mass fledgling in the space between object and subject. I was in the wilderness of potential. I sat, flummoxed by the choice: what to do with my limbs? The options multiplied like diseased cells, kaleidoscoping in ways more appropriate to an acid trip than to this metaphor. The ‘passion’ in ‘passion project’ began to spread thin over a plethora of aspirational Google searches. for obvious reasons, you can’t make 1000 beds and lie in them.
Having chosen a reasonably small handful of ways to use my hands and calmed down in that respect, my loss of self returned in the form of scampistential crises, defined by the urban dictionary (at least I submitted this definition) as “The all-encompassing existential anguish triggered by a combination of the following whilst scamping: a) crippling self-doubt b) the freeze, or the sudden inability to produce any more ideas for a period of 50 seconds or more c) the reluctance to carry on scamping, manifested physically in the gut or solar plexus d) the felt absence of a proposition, experienced as a gaping hole in the chest, giving the impression of being filled with immutably vaporous substances.” My difficulty in scamping led to severe identitarian crises, resulting in vast leaps of logic such as ‘If I don’t feel like scamping do I just hate advertising altogether!?’ and existential questions in the vein of ‘What is an advert?’, ‘Why use a keyline?’, What the hell is the point in toilet paper?’, ‘What is the passing of time?’, ‘Is there life on Mars?’
When experiencing a real or perceived loss of self, one is drawn to past versions of oneself, or simply to one, in which one feels one can trust, one’s version of oneself that is one’s one and only one. In all seriousness however, despite my getting carried away with the luxuriant ridiculousness of accumulative ‘one’s, it didn’t stop me long and that’s exactly what I did. I went to a place I’d always wanted to go to, Chichester Cathedral, to revisit an old love, Philip Larkin.
Philip Larkin wrote a poem baptized after ‘The Arundel Tomb’, which is found in the Cathedral. He writes about the strangeness of the couple immortalized in stone holding hands – how the meaning of that “stone fidelity/ They hardly meant” modulates through time. Having visited the cathedral and had a ‘moment’ before this site of literary pilgrimage, I sat on a bench, thinking how strange to wash up my identity against this site, to impose someone else’s meaning onto a place, to come to have a faux-spontaneous copycat moment. Yet somehow, Larkin’s “almost-instinct, almost true,/ What will remain of us is love” felt arresting to me that day in the Cathedral. You can always get something new out of things you used to love, even if it feels a bit ridiculous doing so. Ridiculousness has some particular qualities that, at times, foster creativity. If you have a bit of time this week, listen to the CD your mum used to put on in the car, reread a Harry Potter book or dig up a poem that meant a lot to you.