Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Heading north towards the light

It's fuzzy and out-of-focus on purpose. Honest. It's, you know, like art...

I've had writer's block for the last few weeks. I keep staring at my thesis, expecting suddenly to be hit a by a wave of inspiration on how to rewrite the first chapter in a way that actually creates some structural coherence for the rest of the endeavor. It hasn't happened. But this afternoon the first drips began finally. Not very impressive but perhaps like a tiny breach in a dyke, the drip will become a trickle, a trickle a stream, and then a torrent of social science brilliance will burst through and carry me, unstoppable, towards PhD success. Well, it's a nice thought anyway...

During all this time when I've been failing with the PhD I have been reading about many other more interesting things (Paul Berman's lengthy piece on Tariq Ramadan in the New Republic has grabbed my attention over recent days, although ultimately it's a bit disappointing. I'll get back to that later though), writing on different issues for work, going to meetings and seminars and all the normal stuff. But my thesis writing has been failing miserably, and making me very miserable as a result.

So when the trickle began I decided to stick with it and keep writing, the end result being I didn't leave work until 11.30 pm. Having had about three cups of coffee, a donut, a chocolate bar, a microwave curry and a can of Red Bull (note to self: I hate Red Bull - why do I buy it?) for my evening 'meal', I decided cycling home, as opposed to getting the bus, would burn some of the calories and counteract the unhealthy amounts of caffeine I had pumped into my blood stream over the preceding hours.

A new days begins at 21 kmph, somewhere in Helsinki Central Park.

There is something magic about Finnish summer nights that even a shit day in the office can't completely spoil, and 45 minutes of pedaling that sometimes can seem a chore was tonight, on empty roads and cycle-paths, a real joy. I chased a couple of the leggy, lolloping hares down cycle paths. They may be much bigger than their British bunny equivalents, but no less stupid - trying to outrun an oncoming car or bike rather than heading straight off the road as sensible creatures like a cat would. The air is cool but not cold. The sunset is the sunrise, a bold orange fire just below the northern horizon. I also ride northwards, through empty streets and quiet parks, chasing the skulking sun.

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