17 December 2011

Academic L'esprit de L'escalier

I maintain my dislike of the methodology of graduate school, and I have realised why: I need time.

I need time to ruminate on things, and I need time to read things carefully -- not all the things -- but the things which need reading, I need to be able to read, not skim, and think carefully about their implications. I need time to make the connections. This might mean that I am not smart and/or quick enough for graduate school.

The problem is, though, that most of the cognitive revelations I have made in my life have come over the course of time. Sometimes I require only days, but usually it is weeks or months. Just last night I came to a conclusion regarding a nuance of my relationship with Amber. Coincidentally, it took just precisely four and one half years as we began dating on the sixteenth of June in 2007.

Four and one half years. I have lived with this woman for four years. Lived with her.

So it ought not have come as a surprise to me when I realised that given time to ruminate on something, I can actually come up with useful things to say about it. This is to say that I have a severe, chronic, and perhaps terminal case of academic l'esprit de l'escalier.

One of the things I told the kids at my erstwhile employment was that if one does not know what to write for one's paper, it is incredibly likely that one has not read enough. That is probably one of the reasons they did not like me, other than my scintillating personality. At any rate, I have recently discovered that for the whole of this semester, I was simply not reading enough -- or, at least, I was not reading the right things.

For some reason or other, I find reading articles less daunting than reading books. It is probably because if I read a forty page article, it has made the whole of its point in that time and I may now consider the implications. However, if I am reading a book and leave off at forty pages to pick it up later, I have to backtrack several pages to remember what the author was on about. I suspect also that it is easier to distill the contents an article into a point without achieving too much distraction. When I read books, I invariably find more questions than I find answers. I hear that is a good thing, but when I have a paper to write and it is not meant to be thesis or dissertation length, it is highly problematic.

It is all of these problems which lead me to have an extension for my Historiography term paper. Fortunately, I am now performing competently, having had time to consider the issue without the obstreperous commentary of Smugly McHipsterpants. As God is my witness, if he is in any other class with me, I will destroy him with my mind. We could power small cities on his ego.


In other news, I realised earlier, in reading a retrospective on Christopher Hitchens, that my largest bone to pick with him is actually not at all over the existence of God. It is over his support of the war in Iraq.

Which is allegedly over.

I still want to move to Gloucestershire and be a blacksmith.

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