Sunday, 11 December 2011

inverse law

The chunk of work I am currently engaged in (read: slogging through uphill through the snow both ways) is my confirmation document. I Freudian-slippily just wrote 'conformation', which is true, in a way. For a year, I've been writing notes to myself, read only by my supervisors and mostly without commentary. Now I've got to put together a document that's intended to be read by someone without access to the inside of my brain. More importantly, it's going to be read by someone who is part of a large institution situated within a centuries-old, global(ish) network of mutual policing and boundary work.

This thing I'm writing needs to accomplish a set number of tasks in a pretty narrow field: it needs to convince a lecturer or professor, with his or her own set of pressures and expectations, that I can eventually complete a PhD in a discipline that this person is not familiar with. And completing the PhD will mean having convinced two different lecturers or professors, one of whom *is* in this discipline, that I won't make them look like jerks if they agree to give me the degree. It's a wild game of whether or not it's in each person's interest, or the interest of their institution, or of their discipline, or of academia as a whole, to put their money on me not being a jerk.

And how do I prove I'm not a jerk, or going to turn into one? By writing sensible, moderately innovative, competent prose about a sensible, moderately innovative, and sufficiently doctoral-level idea.

Well, the bits that I thought were going to write themselves have proven to be absolutely beastly, taking me almost twice the time I'd budgeted. And the bits I'd thought would be the death of me are skipping merrily along in about half the time. This means I'm wildly misjudging *something* - hopefully just my time, and not the quality of what I'm coming up with.

Meanwhile, I've come up with some ideas that seem like they might actually be the first steps towards the kind of framework I've been groping for. And Connie and I came up with something that *could* turn into a crazy fabulous little paper. All we need to do is invent a thirteenth month and we'll churn it right out.

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