so we beat on

1. it gets more than mildly solipsistic in the Lair, where I’ve been (notionally) working most days, most of the days… generally just one other person and the pitter-patter of keys to punctuate the passage of day with sound. really love what i’m studying – the sheer elementality of personal property (e.g. if I mix my cows with your cows who owns… the consequent admixture of cows? or, mutatis mutandis, wine, or corn) counterbalanced with the self-consciously artificial and instrumental scheme of intellectual property. the obvious proprietary question — what does it mean to have? a little disappointingly, Honore could do no more than list 11 discrete (and merely indicative) incidents of ownership, some positive (‘liberties’), some negative and exclusionary (‘rights’ stricto sensu). most others prefer a single pithy definition – either the right to exclusive possession or the right to exclude all others (the two being subtly different)

2. the English common law is a compendium of the idiosyncratic. a newborn animal belongs to the owner of the mother, except for cygnets, who belong to the owner of the father and mother in equal shares: Blackstone, but presumably still good law (not sure if this has ever formed the basis of any common law decision!) the justifications for both the rule and the exception are evidentiary and compensatory: firstly, the father wanders and is rarely ascertainable, whereas swans apparently cleave to each other even after the female gets pregnant (!) so the father remains identifiable; secondly, ownership of the young is deemed to be some sort of recompense for the fact that the mother is generally incapacitated and inutile during pregnancy and requires extra care and expense. the discrepancy is again a lot less in the case of swans, precisely because the two stick together so much and are presumably equally useless to their respective owners…

3. as much as i like studying tidbits like the aforementioned – with each passing day i feel less inclined to turn in that BCL application. i really like law, especially now that everyone’s doing options i really like how there’s something for everyone and that at its core law is really – and surprisingly – a concatenation of inexorably addictive puzzles, even if swathed at times in formalism. but i have come to learn that everything taken to excess is noxious… i can’t remember the last time i picked up a book for fun, can’t remember the last time i picked up a text without eventually parsing it into typed bullet-point text stripped of articles and prepositions. it is on the whole heartening that it still matters to me, i think, that i whistle (again, notionally) when i see a nice turn of phrase in a judgment (invariably English; the EU ones are shit) – but appreciation of words should be more than piecemeal and aspirational. i need more, i need to do more, i need to allow myself to be more.

4. not least – am learning quietude; always learning, never really quite learned. if last year was about padding (cv; muscle, very occasionally) this year is about paring. learning how elementary – how beatifically axiomatic – faith is. i had been extremely tired of striving, tired of the interminable roiling within me, tired of having so much to lose. loss is a good thing. it shows me how little one can have – how spent one can be – and still be replete!

the last time i was in singapore i asked my bible study leader about Romans 7 (one of my favourites – almost mathematically poetic: ‘for that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I‘) – what should one feel about it? the answer of course comes in Romans 8:1 (no condemnation, etc); but would that not, paradoxically, spur one on to complacency?

in reply – and these are now probably my favourite verses ever:

For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle […] 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1 cor 15:9-10)

neither fallenness nor grace precludes graft. rather, the one in response to the other precisely inspires, and sustains, it. note Paul’s almost guilty aside at the end, his repression of the undying urge to arrogate some credit to himself (also 2 cor 12), making it a sort of sinusoidal passage. so it is with everyday life, i think. knowing that God is sufficient, at the bottom – but equally, knowing that God is necessary, at the top. and it is precisely that knowledge that makes joy inalienable – that fixes happiness and security not on people or things of this world but on Something firm and unyielding. it is that very fixture that sets us free.

4a. walking home past midnight as usual, down Cornmarket St, some possibly homeless guy outside big-Pret strumming maudlin tunes that overlaid what was otherwise expansive silence. the sky was faintly speckled. the wind had died down. for the first time in ages i leaned into the quiet and felt properly able to smile.


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