Examining, I mean. For the last time ever. And, after a long-drawn-out and rather depressing experience marking tripos, at least I finished on a high note, viva-ing a particularly excellent M.Phil. thesis.
Now it is back to clearing my office. Into the bin with lecture notes from courses twenty-five years ago! Out with old overheads and handouts! Onto the come-and-help-yourselves shelves in another room for a lot of never-read/never-to-be-read books!
But now it is getting harder. I’m slowing down, and it is all getting more discombobulating.
In some cases it is a matter of regretfully having to acknowledge that — being realistic — I am never going to have a year or so to really get my head again round X or Y. I’d love to really get to the point where I was back on top of the state of play in the philosophy of quantum mechanics (say); but it is never going to happen — or at least, it’s never going to happen if I am to have half a chance of finishing some logicky projects. So that whole area will have to remain a closed book, or rather a small pile of closed books. A cheering reminder of faded hopes, eh?
Then there are the books to which I still feel an odd attachment and find difficult to let go for no reason I can easily articulate. Irrational, as I’ve not read them for decades, and I’m surrounded by Cambridge libraries. For instance, I’ve just found myself rereading some of Cornford’s Unwritten Philosophy, which I must have bought in 1967, and not had occasion to read much since. I’m sure it is all very creaky: ancient philosophy has come such a very long way since when Cornford was writing (the essays date from the thirties and forties). I’ve long since lost touch, and my Greek has quite disappeared. And yet, and yet … The charm of his writing still weaves its magic. No; this I think I will keep, just for a bit longer.
Back to the pile for sorting …