Thursday, April 22, 2010

End of term

Well, I'm pleased to see that the Master/Blaylock fight has received a decent response, with Miriam putting up a better fight than was expected. At the time of this posting, she is still only at half the Master's votes, but could still stage a comeback ...

Also, I reiterate my offer (plea!) to have guest-bloggers write fight accounts for upcoming battles. Specifically, if there are any Vampire Diaries fans out there who have an idea for how the Damon-Lestat fight should go, please let me know. As I have mentioned, I have never watched The Vampire Diaries, and included Damon because of the requests I received to do so. Even if you just want to give me the bullet points, I'm happy to do the actual writing. Email me here if you have any ideas. Failing that, I might have to bump up the Angel-Santanico fight to give myself time to watch a few episodes ...

Anyway, on non-vampire wars related subjects, my semester is done. DONE. Yesterday I submitted my final grades and am now looking at my summer research term with a relief and anticipation that makes the whole PhD worthwhile.

And as an upshot, I find myself at the office with nothing to do. Well, that's not true—I have at least a dozen things to do, but since none of them involve the immediacy of grading, class prep, lecturing, or administrative work, it's hard to make myself feel any sort of immediacy. So I had breakfast downtown this morning to celebrate the end of term, and then wandered out to Chapters to buy some books for the research term that really have nothing to do with any of my ongoing research.

Considering that the term just ended yesterday, I suppose I should feel justified in taking the day off. Why am I even at the office? This is one of those elements of the academic life that never really goes away. If Jews and Catholics have cornered the market on guilt, academics from grad school onward have at the very least a controlling share. It starts with the sense of always feeling you should be working on papers, but really only becomes pervasive with the writing of the dissertation: with term papers, you can at least time things so that you have breathing space at the end of a semester, but the thesis becomes an all-encompassing thing that is constantly whispering "you really ought to be working." For a glorious week after my defense, I would hear that voice, feel that nagging guilt, and realize that that thing I should be working on? Finished!

Of course, about a week is all you get—if that—before that voice comes back in force, this time coming at you from various directions, whispering publications—postdoc applications—job applications—conferences. And even once a full-time gig gets landed, it sort of goes full bore publish—publish—publish.

Don't get me wrong—I'm not complaining. I love this life, and I am myself pretty well equipped when it comes to strategically telling that voice to take a flying fuck at the moon. But I find it funny that force of habit brings me to the office when, at least for today, there is no earthly reason I need to be here. Aside from posting to my blog, of course.


Shaun Coady said...

Sometimes it is more often the passion behind the reasons that cause the voices to whisper I find. For example, I currently work at a movie whilst trying to find teaching work, and just the other day, my academics rebounded as I made an interesting note in my head when it comes to the Disney section of films. I thought to myself, why do many films by Disney, which are of course derived from classic fairy tales, have no strong maternal presence, the mother is either dead, missing, or the child is completely orphaned? I was sitting there, looking at the cover art, seeing no great presence of strong maternal roles, even if the central character is female, such as Pocahontas. And if the child is orphaned, does an wild animal constitute a proper maternal role when raising the child?.

Also, I was talking to some people about Law Abiding citizen and it struck me as interesting that the premise can harken back to the John Locke's State of Nature with regards to crime and punishment, and how fascinating it was to see the very acts justified to the viewers.

I myself miss the library at Mun, and wished I had more time to spend in it, browsing the literature, film studies, and the overwhelming quiet awe with which it holds for me. Having not been back to school in two or three years, and still finding those voices still behind me, I think Chris that you are just an incredibly passionate person when it comes to your academia, and that sir, is to be recognized and saluted! Kudos to you sir, and don't worry, many of hope for the day when we can blog from our office in an institution of such fine learning and research opportunities.

Chris in NF said...

Thanks, Shaun -- that's an incredibly nice thing to say. I appreciate it.

The lack of the maternal figure in Disney is interesting. It makes me think of the most famous example, when Bambi's mother gets shot. What does Disney have against mothers?

Hilding Neilson said...

Your description of the academic guilt complex is well-stated. The publish or perish mentality in academia is one of the worst parts of the job and has created a uber-competive atmosphere for post-doc and faculty jobs. Now that I am on my first post-doc, I am discouraged by this reality. I should note that I am writing this while sitting in my office on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. However, it is a great job and I appreciate the reminder at the end of the post. Good luck with the summer research!