synthetic zero

October 16th, 2011

I’m in London to talk with my friend Jenny Doussan about her remarkable PhD thesis on Agamben and Brentano, which relates to a lot of things I’ve been thinking about recently; it touches upon themes which have fascinated me for decades. It has been a bit surreal being here, as well: I was updating her about the #ows protests (she’s been ensconced in finishing her thesis and thus hasn’t been as plugged into recent events), and of course just as I was telling her there are protests at the London Stock Exchange, as if on cue, the newscaster started talking about it on the radio. I hope to stop by the protest sometime while I’m here, although my primary focus is going to be on conversations with Jenny.

Due to the magic of credit card rewards points, I’m staying in by far the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in in London, the Novotel London Greenwich, which I chose primarily because it’s reasonably close to Jenny’s place in Deptford. My room is actually almost normal-sized by American standards, even though it’s the most affordable room type in the place. It’s a bit funny, however, because, despite the fact that it’s quite spacious, it still sports many of the same features present in the super-cramped closets that you find at most budget London hotels; as though the fact that hotels often have to radically conserve space has set up a “standard” which hotel designers follow even if they have the space to do it differently. There are some tiny closets for hanging your clothing, but no dresser drawers at all. The bathroom has one of those microscopic London sinks (even smaller than this one) next to the toilet, even though, inexplicably, it also has a normal-sized sink. There’s a towel rack placed on the other side of the toilet from the bath/shower/sink, making it quite difficult to access and forcing you to step near the toilet when you’re trying to reach one of the towels (not exactly the most hygenic feeling), something that would make sense if the bathroom were too tiny to allow a more convenient arrangement, but in this case, completely unnecessary, given the spaciousness of the room.

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