this holiday has thus far been exactly as sedate as i’d envisioned and wanted it to be. it’s been a month since i’ve returned; subjected myself to the refreshing if bafflingly cyclical rigmarole of inhaling singapore again in sharp intakes: eaten bah chor mee at least three times, met pretty much every valued person/ social group. it’s good to be back!- but not, I think, in the same way or to the same extent as it is usually portrayed on social media or other bits of the internet, brimfully replete with fanfare and patriotic fervour. no, it really only hits home when you’ve settled into sleepy routines and made your room your room again (ie bags, scraps of receipts and clothing everywhere), when you can stare pointedly at your phone while walking for ten minutes and still make it to the mrt station without incident because the route’s long been scored into your feet. if you continue being careless in this way it really feels as if you’d never left – but that can’t be. you’re a lot more susceptible to the heat now and you inexplicably have tons of law in your head.
bereft of girlfriend and (for two more days) gainful employment, i’ve been gamely keeping up with law, reading cases, trying to get into what it means to “think like a lawyer”. the more i read the more tentative i become, like with one of those trick gifts i secretly already know comprises nothing but wrapping paper to the very core. what does it mean to reason like a lawyer and what are the implications, if any, for the pursuit of truth? the law seems unabashedly (collusively?) incoherent and rife with backward reasoning – the more eminent the judge the more impunity as to specious argumentation – and while i genuinely find pleasure in understanding the parts of the law i’ve been exposed to (or at least successfully delude myself that i do) i could never pretend, not even to others, that this pleasure does not arise despite the state of the law rather than because of it, a sort of grim Pyrrhic thrill in having sifted through the wreckage and pried out the relevant corpses for interment.
don’t get me wrong though! i don’t think the fact of my enjoyment being merely derivative (of the incoherence etc) detracts in any material way from its quality. i think two years of army (and to a lesser extent Life-At-Large) has equipped me fairly well for perverse hypnopaedic equations of this sort: it is painful so you must be growing into a better person. besides, academia is in the business of equivocation, and there would be nothing to pussyfoot about if not for the non-sequiturs and the contradictions. i guess what grates just a little is how feebly indiscriminate my defence of the subject is; how i could have picked practically anything in the world to study and have reached at least as positive a conclusion. axiomatically, either an endeavour is intrinsically attractive or it is character-building to the extent of its unattractiveness, and to accept character-building-ness as an equally valid competing pleasure is a bit of a cop-out, isn’t it? surely it takes far more courage to be miserable than to be stoic.