Chinmaya Lal Thakur
3 July 2020
I am researching the representations of subjectivity in the novels of David Malouf as an international student at La Trobe University, Melbourne. The key question that my work attempts to address is the relationship between subjectivity and the event. The event, as described by the likes of M. Heidegger and J. Derrida, is that which cannot be predicted or understood. Given the crisis confronting us today, my work has begun to matter in my own life in very real and practical ways.
Quite naturally, over the last year or so that I have been in Australia, my world had come to revolve around three points—the university library, my office in the department (Creative Arts and English) in which I am enrolled, and the accommodation provided to me. For the first few days following the outbreak of the virus in Melbourne/Victoria, I lived with the false assurance that it will not impact everyone or, at least, me. Yet, when the virus had a very obvious impact on the university’s campuses, I came to realise the seriousness of the situation. The library was closed, offices were shut down, and I along with many others was advised to study/work from home. The cocoon that I had created for myself was thus thoroughly disrupted.
Needless to say, the outbreak of the virus did not affect my life only in academic terms. My daily routine remains disturbed as I go out of the accommodation spaces only to get groceries. Even then, I keep a careful distance from other customers and visitors so that I neither get exposed to the virus nor transmit it to others. As I worked as a casual academic this semester, the situation has made me come face-to-face with the precarity of those like me who do not have stable jobs to provide for their families and themselves.
However, there are a few silver linings amidst all the gloom. I have managed the time to read more than what I would have under normal circumstances. I have also been able to catch some good films and shows over various OTT platforms. Albeit digitally, I have established crucial connections with friends, colleagues, and academics that will hopefully provide me succour and sustenance for testing times even in the future.
Now, as cases in Melbourne/Victoria are on the rise again, all of us need to be extra careful. We need to be with each across various media even as we may not support or stand by each other physically. We should be generous in donating to charities that work for the benefit of the vulnerable sections of our society.
I hope we see the other side of this crisis very soon.
Chinmaya Lal Thakur is a PhD candidate at the Department of Creative Arts and English at La Trobe University, Melbourne. The working title of his proposed dissertation is “The Representation of Subjectivity in the Novels of David Malouf: Aspects of Being and Becoming”. Drawing on contemporary European philosophy and postcolonial thought, the thesis will involve thinking about the end(s) of the novel, narrativising, and re-presentation. Chinmaya is the editor of Literary Criticism: An Introductory Reader (Delhi: Worldview, 2018). Chinmaya is a member of IPCS.