It’s difficult not to be obsessed by the spying issue, given that it’s always there in my mind, whether in the background or the foreground. It’s good to daydream of how things could be if I wasn’t being spied on. I think actually that things would be pretty similar to how they are now, in terms of externals, except that it would be much, much easier to have friendships, relationships and sex. However, having said that, I think that things would most likely be hugely different in terms of my internal life. I’d feel much, much better, and my psyche would most likely be in much better working order.
Currently reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown. It’s probably a bit dated in terms of some of the scholarship, but I had to read it because it’s a seminal work, and it still gives a good overview of the subject. It’s also written in a very readable style, which, for a non-fiction book, is for me a huge plus.
It seems to me however that even today, a lot of non-Native Americans, especially outside the US, still think of Native Americans in terms of the days of the Old West, when it reality, many or most of those communities have lives very, very different from those of their long-ago predecessors. I suppose it’s the old issue of navigating our way through the unknown by using stereotypes as maps or guides. And perhaps also, those mythic, long-ago Native Americans symbolise something that many modern Westerners, and probably many modern non-Westerners, feel to be missing from their lives, which increases the appeal.
I’m currently transliterating a 1698 manuscript for The Company of Weavers, Tuckers and Shearmen, Exeter. It’s slow going, because I don’t have the kind of mind that delights in puzzles. In fact, my preferred place for ‘Puzzle Books’ is on the fire or in the compost heap. The thing is though, if I want to do historical research, I need to be able to deal with manuscripts.
It’s a strange thing, but I feel much more able to focus on the transliterating when I’m in the University Library. Perhaps because I clocked up hours and hours of studying here a decade ago. Maybe the associations make it easier to slip back into studying mode. Plus, of course, being surrounded by lots of other people all studying.
Back to the spying again. I really, really, hate it, and I don’t understand why it’s still happening, as it seems to be. A mixture of greed, fear and indifference I would guess. Maybe people fear that if they’re open about the fact that they are spying ‘customers’, they might get thrown in jail. I’m no legal expert, but my guess is that it would be pretty much impossible to throw millions of people into jail. And, perhaps, some people enjoy speaking in code. Maybe more so than speaking normally.
I have to ask myself, how would I respond if this was happening to someone else, and I knew about it? I feel fairly sure I wouldn’t be a ‘customer’, but would I step up to actually help that person? If I’m honest, I don’t have an easy answer to that. I’d like to think I would, especially if I’d come across it in the early days, when it was a smaller thing, but now, it’s harder to say. If it was happening to someone I knew, and did nothing, I think I’d hate myself for it. But what if it was a stranger? It’s a tough one.
Hopefully church tomorrow. I don’t subscribe to a lot of the doctrine, but the atmosphere, the being part of a community, and the repetition of ritual seem to give me a morale boost. Which I suppose is why many people turn to religion.