Nostalgia, Mark Twain cautioned, is mental and moral masturbation. Harsh but warranted; as Oxford comes to an end, I find it painfully difficult to say anything meaningful. (This post, short as it is, was the product of many deletions and emendations.) Many of my reflections seem to come in shades of the unbearably sentimental and sappy -- those are perhaps best kept unsaid. Saying anything at all seems to violate the sense of ineffable mystery -- one approaching a certain mysticism -- that comes with departing and leaving. It's very much like finally leaving the company (and in particular, ecstatic conversation) of a good friend in the small hours: one wishes for a bond of eternal companionship, an everlasting sympathy that transcends the merciless march of the hours. But one settles for a mutual understanding: the understanding that one's departure of another is a negotiated surrender, a temporary retreat, a stopgap measure and with luck, simply a promise of further meetings.
So I am tempted to think of our scattering to the ends of the earth in this light. This thought cheers me up, as silence in college infects every nook and cranny. It will soon be all-pervasive, leaving me enveloped in a quietude quite unique. I've put the kettle on the boil, and soon I will be sipping Earl Grey from an Oscar Wilde mug, thinking fondly* of you all.
* LEAR: Pray, do not mock me:
I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less;
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.