Book Review: The Sense Of An Ending, Julian Barnes

urgh. what a book!

this book follows the life and times of Tony Webster as told by himself in a rhythmic, repetitive pulse and sluggish vigor that strings you on to the end, till you realize this is fiction and then wonder if you are right—if this isn’t really your life told back at you from the future, considering Tony is in his sixties. i am now wondering whether or not to call this a review. i feel like i just have to rant about this book. like i owe it to my brain to let it all out without remorse.

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i don’t want to spoil the book for you, so i will speak little of it’s plot. tony thinks he is a good guy. he has told himself his life’s story, cropping and editing out parts he doesn’t like all his life, till he gets an unfriendly slap from the past and is forced to see thing as they really are. this story challenges the idea of memory and history and time and ageing. urgh. am i even doing this right? writing about this right? i don’t know. i am twenty years old. its funny i’ve been think a lot about this lately, about time and age and how i don’t really care for it the way people say i would. like i remember in secondary school when i never went out for sports and my biology teacher said i would regret it because she did the same thing and she regretted not participating. five or so years have passed and i hardly ever think about the time i didn’t go for sports period or perhaps i’m not old enough to think such thoughts.

someone i really love also told me i’d later in life regret not attending my secondary school graduation, like the aforementioned reference, i haven’t regretted that either. it’s like when people talk about being young romantically. how they wish they were young again and all that (nonsense). i honestly don’t feel that way. i don’t feel nostalgic for my early years. for infancy. not even a little. i like that i am out of secondary school, primary school, on my way out of my father’s house. and this does not mean that i don’t like my father’s house. or primary school. or secondary school for that matter. i love my father’s house, but i like the passage of time more. i like that nothing is forever. things change. motion. i like motion. fluidity. i look forward to this life ending really, because in my opinion life is difficult. an enigma. i don’t like life and i like life. but i think the most honest thing to say is that i am indifferent. i don’t care very much. i am okay with dying right now. the only thing—i think—that worries me especially, is pain. and even that i am starting to accept and get used to. you see, that’s one of the lovely things about life. learning.

that’s what the book will do to you i suppose—make you think about your life, critically and honestly. i really think you should read it.

leave your email in the comments and i’ll send you the book.

read excerpts i really like from the book; here

also John Green turned 40 last week, you should watch his vlog about it, because a) i like John Green more than i like most people b) it goes inline with all my rambling about age and time and ‘adulthood’.

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Treasured Excerpts From Julian Barnes’ The Sense Of An Ending

History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.

the history that happens underneath our noses ought to be the clearest, and yet it’s the most deliquescent. We live in time, it bounds us and defines us, and time is supposed to measure history, isn’t it? But if we can’t understand time, can’t grasp its mysteries of pace and progress, what chance do we have with history – even our own small, personal, largely undocumented piece of it?

We live with such easy assumptions, don’t we? For instance, that memory equals events plus time. But it’s all much odder than this. Who was it said that memory is what we thought we’d forgotten? And it ought to be obvious to us that time doesn’t act as a fixative, rather as a solvent. But it’s not convenient – it’s not useful – to believe this; it doesn’t help us get on with our lives; so we ignore it.

It strikes me that this may be one of the differences between youth and age: when we are young, we invent different futures for ourselves; when we are old, we invent different pasts for others.

How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but – mainly – to ourselves.


Let me just briefly add that this book is deep on so many levels. And I am not saying deep the way most people say deep; the way they juxtapose interesting for deep. No. I’m not saying that it was uninteresting either. I’m just saying it was more than a novel in a way that made you wonder whether It was a novel at all. I want to do a review but I am almost certain that that will be a deservice to the depth of the book. But I don’t think I care—I will do it anyway. To ease myself of the aftereffect of haven read it.

A Review Of Elevate’s Free Summer School Project 2017

The Free Summer School started on the Tuesday, 1st of August 2017 with nine students and with time grew to over 21 students. To be precise, 24 students in total. The classes lasted 5 hours on average, sometimes more, other times less, depending on the state of the students that day, and the tutors availability to go the extra mile. The hours were longer more often than not.

Data Based on Questionnaire

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100% of the students enjoyed the free summer school very much. When asked why, they all stated that the reason being the teaching and interaction between teachers and students. One of the student went further by talking about how in her school, the management only cares about money and not about the quality of teachers and learning. He/she (the person opted to not include personal identification) ended her/his reply with a prayer for the school.

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The goals of the project were to:

  • Show students that excellence counts and can take you places through the examples of the young tutors.
  • Show the young tutors the importance of adding value to the society and steadily teaching them how to be mentors.
  • Show that school can be interesting and is a great place to learn.

These goals were all achieved.

Our major challange was inconsistency. Most of the students stopped showing up after sometime. Some gave their reason to be that the classes were too hectic. This was saddening and we tried to reach out to them, but they remained adamant. We are working on ways to making the program inclusive for everyone, even the lazy ones. Most of the students complained that the work hours were too long (10am-4pm), and assignments were too much, so we will review this in future and in turn increase the number of weeks it runs for, because there’s much to cover and we didn’t cover much ground in those supposedly long hours.

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It was a great experience for both tutor and student and they all assured us that they will be happy to attend if we held the free summer school next year, if they’ve not graduated from secondary school by then.

We are very grateful for our partners who showed extreme and unrelenting support all through, especially Abundant Grace Church, for providing a venue for us. May God lace your paths with gold and favour on every side.

Thank you.

Free Elevate Magazine Download (Sept-Dec 2017 Edition)

It’s so surreal to be doing this, finally.

The Elevate Initiative is committed to education advocacy and youth empowerment through academic excellence. One of the long term, consistent ways we want to work toward that goal is by sharing an online bank of knowledge that sheds light on how to succeed in academics and make the most of school; A magazine called Elevate. There’s no nice, fluffy talk. It’s all real, raw and out for radical change. It’s up for FREE download now.

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Download here.

Enjoy!

PS: This magazine will take a break for a while, so there won’t be a January edition and many editions after that because my schedule is going to get tight very soon and I wouldn’t want my focus to be divided. Thanks for understanding. Thanks for all the support. God bless you.

Dear Sponsor/Donor

Dear Sir/Ma,

This letter is to appreciate your donation and contribution to The Elevate Initiative for our free summer school project. I am happy to inform you that it was a great success, saying the least.

We registered a total of 24 students, 12 of which were consistent, while others travelled, gave excuses and after sometime outrightly quit. We tried reaching out to these runaway students from time to time, but they remained adamant. It made us see that sometimes, the government is not always to blame and it can be difficult to make certain people work hard and see things differently. We had a total of 6 tutors, some of which taught art classes. Although it wasn’t part of the initial plan, we started art classes on arrival of an art student.

Each tutor received a two thousand naira compensation at the end of each week and the school ran for four weeks. Most of the funding was directed to this weekly token. The rest was used in purchasing writing materials such as markers, dusters, blue pens, red pens, notebooks for the teachers etc.

It was astounding to see the students improve after the four weeks of teaching them. The challenges we faced were that that most of the students had not been taught properly before, so they were completely lost when it came to understanding their current work. Most of the tutoring we did was foundational. We had to go back and teach them all the ground work meticulously. So we worked from the ground up, taking each student along, which quite frankly was frustrating sometimes. It all paid off, because after we got that part down, they started to progress.

Also, I am glad that the students are more confident after the program than they were at the beginning. They are comfortable with answering questions in class and speaking up when they don’t understand. That’s something none of them wanted to do voluntarily at the beginning of the summer school.

Tutors also developed friendships and we were able to discuss some serious issues. Since the tutors are teenagers as well, they also require mentoring. The summer school was a free space to be real and gist; a great opportunity to impact culture. And that opportunity  was well utilized.

We achieved everything we set out to achieve with this summer school, and we wouldn’t have been able to do that without your help. Thank you. May God bless you abundantly. Be rest assured that you have helped to push a dozen lives forward, if not more. We hope that you will partner with us in future projects as we continue to change the narrative of Nigerian education.

Thank you.

OmoobaJesu Adetunji.

To read detailed day to day encounters; click this link.

Logbook: Day 19

WEEK 4: Friday!

F I N A L D A Y

Turn down for what? 💃💃💃💃💃💃

Great day today. We had quizzes— Physics, Chemistry and Biology. And it was so much fun. We prayed and we laughed and we dabbed and it was awesome! We have much to be thankful for.

Review is coming soon, most likely next week. Thank you for following me on this journey. It’s been quite a ride hasn’t it? This is a charge for you, be a blessing. Don’t just complain about the state of things, do something.

Some else said it better:

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Till next time,

O.

Read Day 1 – 18 here.

Logbook: Day 18

WEEK 4: Thursday

What a beautiful day today was.

The students had tests and it was good to see that they have seriously improved. My heart is so full. I feel like my work is done. Even the other tutors were dancing, literally. Finally all our hard work is showing. It’s an incredible feeling. Absolutely fulfilling.

Tomorrow is the last day. Our goal has been hit! I really don’t think I have much else to say, other than Thank you God. Thank you a thousand times over and more. Thank you!

And hey, thank YOU too, for sticking around.

PS: Our art student left today 😦 ( to get the full story, check previous logs)