Friday, August 19, 2011

mulling the phd; not procrastinating


I recall years ago reading a nice little magazine article (in the days when i still read magazines...obviously pre thesis)
It talked of it being a good thing your teenager was bored.
It then very quickly reframed boredom into having a thinking space.
Its the moments of not doing, that give time for contemplation.

So when Im spring cleaning in the middle of winter, replacing the curtains, vacuuming the ceiling, its because the ideas are fermenting. Just like a nice cider, it requires a little bit of time to bubble...

There's the possibility that
1. I do not want it to end.
I dont. I like being a student. And I like having this intensely selfish undertaking of depth. I want to graduate at the same time as two colleagues....I want to go to a conference next year that i could only attend with uni funding for a phd student...
However even if i finish next week, its still going to be the status of a student for a while so those arent very real excuses.

2. I havent yet found the cure for cancer *sigh* I havent yet scaled Mt Everest! I'm a perfectionist who want the best possible, that would be a problem, but unlikely. Dont think Ive ever been one before so its not likely. However i do not like failing, and i do not like aiming for mediocrity, I havent got anything worthy of a nobel prize, nor a booker prize, nor even an Australasian thesis prize. Its not a bodice ripping good yarn (yet).
My friend Heather would say just put on your ordinary...
apparently ball gown and bustier not required.
And Bruno Latour says a good thesis is a finished one.
Many dont....mine will. I know this.

3. I havent suffered enough.
I havent. I dont hate it. At times this is too easy...maybe i have enough now but it doesnt look hard enough.
My little contributions to knowledge do not feel grand.
Sure ive studied something no one else has. Its new in the world. Others might want to know more of it.
And ive a tiny inkling that with distributed agency is distributed responsibility so there's a tiny bit of newness for a theory
And the methodology supports some brave new world stuff on the research processes of working with young people and with sensitive research.
Are my molehills big enough to constitute "new knowledge"
As with no.2....might just need to pull my head in and be satisfied with being a modest witness, a modest contributor....even some of my fav authors are this. They do not come across as earth shattering, so i too should stop trying to shatter the earth.

4. If i finished i would have to play with the big girls and boys in academia contesting funding...
I dont have to. I could publish the smaller things. I can hold it together when its short bursts on a theme.

5. My angst, confusion, curiousity are sated. Having satisfied my curiousity, its boring to retrospectively write the story of my thinking for others...especially if its only going to have a minute audience *sigh*
And i have already fed back to my site of study...and was well received...but is still owe them and the participants of this, completion.
Also there's the scope for what i talk of to be useful for others...and i know it wont be if its not finished.

6. I have writers block. Except i dont. I can write this. What i have are thoughts still growing: mulling. Rereading and editing makes the direction for conclusions a little more cohesive. I keep a rough doc of conclusions in progress: i write them as they bubble... a vat of mulling thoughts to draw on.


7. Twittering has been useful. This weeks twitter #phdchat provided an opportunity to consider what are the hallmarks a a phd's unique contribution to knowledge. The earth does not need more shattering a modest contribution will suffice. (thankyou Jeffrey)

There is uniqueness in what i have studied. There is also uniqueness with how i have gone about this. There is a glimmer of possibility in provoking further thought on the philosophical underpinnings of my methodology. And there is the application of working with sensitive research in a way that is respectful.

The feedback received to date suggests also that what is contributed is useful in affirming and nurturing nascent practice. Such practice being valued when considered in terms of having voice and being heard.

I have not left the world or what i studied, in a worse state than i found it :)

Sometimes i have looked at fabric and thought that it would have been better left uncoloured ... i have also looked at what is written and sometimes think that editing down to the blank page would have been desirable.

I look at what i have written and believe i have improved upon the blank page.

Earlier in my studies- a year ago exactly, I was immobilised with fear of how what i study might be misrepresented, used to rationalize horrid practices. My conclusions will include this, or at least the vat of thoughts shall. I cannot control where what i write of might lead, but i am still alive, i can still respond, I continue even when he phd is done. There is accountability/responsibility and distributed agency that points to this. I just dont quite know how to write of it (yet). But its firming up, congealing, clotting.




1 comment:

  1. I find sometimes I get overwhelmed with all of the thoughts mulling around my mind so doing something else (not thinking about the thoughts but letting them settle)that doesn't take a lot of concentration or even going out for a walk helps me to write. All of a sudden, thoughts seem to come out of nowhere and I'm back on a roll.

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