The Vile Voyeur
People complain about exams. Endlessly, and exaggeratively. I have no problem with this, apart from the slight discomfort of being bored for the duration of most conversations that I’ve wandered into in the last few weeks. However, I endure them dutifully in the knowledge that my companionable monologuer is enacting a process as predictable as the premature breakdown they had three weeks before. Complaining is the necessary vocalisation of the concentrated space of self obsession that we are allocated in exam term. It is wonderful. It must be relished.
Exam-complaining is generally a bout of profuse lying – when else do you get away with such blatant fraudulence? Facebook homepages are littered with exotically defeatist wall posts: 'I don't really know much about anything for Paper 2 yet, but i have high hopes for myself learning everything i need to tonight. Possibly the first error, whatevaaaah!' – Just a second, you’ve been making little Paper 2-quotation-based jokes since January. And, you’re the one who informed me who Milton was, like, two days ago! Oh, wait. I’m starting to compete with their own absurd self-deprecation. It all becomes an exasperating competition of who’s worse than whom. Where’s the real competitiveness gone? Nestling in the autotelic realm of the firsts, I suppose, whilst we drive ourselves backwards, trying to lead each other off-track into the mire of comparative relaxation, duped by devious tactics of mitigation.
But why bother critiquing anyone else? In exam term we are given a blank cheque of acceptable personality disorders. You can lie, complain, hide away, acquire manic-depression, become a secret-slag, or become fat. All these things become unquestionable, not because we become more tolerant, but because we really couldn’t care less about anyone else. Or rather, if you still do, then you’ve missed a trick – take your chance to indulge in egotistic mania before the exams are over and you have to start propping up your friends in the recovery position for Daily Mail photos. What a bore.
You have a perfect space of time in which to unashamedly self-analyse. No-one will question your actions because they’re caught up in their own web of self-analysis. Anything better than deconstructing with a highlighter the scrawled notes trapped within neat colour-coordinated files. The problem is, after you’ve found yourself amongst the recycling bin of received ideas that is Cambridge (you discovered this when you were dabbling in some pop philosophy like a housewife on a break from the school-run… You’ve realised.. You are an individual… a perfectly preserved whole of humanity…), you need to tell someone.
This is where the complaining comes in.
Enjoy. The person you’re talking to isn’t listening.