It’s Mechanical From Here On Out

(mechanical, repetitive and involving straight white males in the only roles of significance – it’s just like the Transformers movies!)

By ‘mechanical’, I’m referring to doing things that are intense repetitive, rather than ‘creative’ work which can be done from the comfort of a beanbag under the influence of some slightly illegal narcotics. The problem with doing something creative, therefore, is that is requires both creative work, to come up with the idea in the first place, and mechanical work, to hone it into a succinct essay or concise poem. I think creative activities suffer from this dichotomy to a greater extent than things like maths or science, which are difficult and may require creative input at some stage, but are mostly about the application of a few set formulae to different scenarios, and working through those scenarios again and again. And I did say ‘suffer’ there, because the point in my revision has been reached where it’s all mechanical from here on out.

For English, my basic revision outline has always been to come up with a load of extreme, borderline unjustifiable ideas on texts, then cut them down to a few interesting yet plausible ones that are appropriately broad enough for the exam, then rote-learn them so I’m never grasping at straws in the exam itself, and throwing an untested idea at a question that’s going to be assessed with real significance. And now, the ideas have been buzzed around (over 60 pages of them, no less), and about nine quotes per text selected to form the basis of the better ideas from this tome; I just have to learn these quotes, and the ideas that go with them.

Not to blow my own metaphor here, but I think I’m rather good at rote-learning masses of crap; or at least I was, this approach alone got me an A at AS French. So I’m not dreading the next two weeks of solid memorisation because I’ll fail, but simply because it’s tedious. I know that a lot of my ideas will fall flat, but it’s genuinely quite fun spending a week alone with some books, trying to draw obscure meanings out of them, like completing a Rorschach Test and trying to be an annoying prat about it and selecting none of the responses it offers you.

But that part is over. I have fifteen days, from tomorrow, to get these things into my tiny yet eager brain, and whether the ideas were bullshit to begin with, or I’m really not smart enough for a degree, I’m gonna frakking learn those bits of Old English, and Biblical quotes in which God is a prick.


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