Monday, June 19, 2006

Ordem e progresso

This blog seems to have become a more or less random collection of writings. Fair enough. Initially I thought it would become more like a continuing log of the progress of my PhD, a description of the writing process etc. It hasn't, mostly because there seems to be no progress to talk about at the moment. Not that there's any order, or much love either, I must admit. I remember the advice I got when I was still an undergraduate contemplating doing a PhD one day. "You must really love your topic, since you will be giving years of your life to it" said this Norwegian professor. So true. I guess the honeymoon is over, and instead of living the dull everyday life with the missus, I'm even secretely dating other topics.

I tell my PhD all sorts of excuses, explain lipstick stains in the collar, get tempted and turn to look at other, sexier themes and approaches. But I know I'm stuck with this one for now. We have a prenuptial that will leave we dry if we divorce before the marriage is consummated and the first-born thesis inspected. Nevertheless: motivation, where art thou?

My thesis is like this blog entry. A brilliant idea but I keep rambling and don't have the energy at the moment to write it and polish it so that it would come across in such a form and shape that is not underwhelming and disappointing for the reader (and writer). The ingredients for this entry were: slow progress in work -> leads to order and progress -> which leads to the motto of Brazil and thus to the ongoing football championships; -> through which we get to passion and love, which is Augusto Comte's premise for the other two, order and progress, -> and while love's left out of the Brazilian motto, they are good at passion which I seem to lack in my work. Also, Comte and his positivism lead me to ( -> ) science and philosophy of science and the idea that science brings knowledge and that drives progress etc., which I do believe, even though I'm not really a fan of positivism as such -> which would lead me to promise I'd write something about the philosophy of science, as that seems to interest me more and more -> especially about the topic I've been wanting to discuss here for a while: purpose, relevance and ethics of science in general and higher education institutions in particular, all the things related to it from faked cloning research to plagiarism in student essays, and (here comes the term I'm planning to launch here this week) "soundbite science" a.k.a. how media and poor science policy drive research to unfortunate directions. Then ( -> ), I was going to make some sort of a loop back to football/love/Brazil.

Or, I could perhaps have exploited the fact that the film "O Brother, Where art thou" by the Coen brothers, a reference to which appeared by accident a few paragraphs back, is based on Homer's Odysseus -> avoiding the empty metaphore of phd as a trip or an odyssey I was planning to leap to ( -> ) Greek tragedies, the ultimate stories in this world, and how they deal with closure and destiny, and how eveI'm perhaps waiting for a deus ex machina (or should I say ápo mēchanēs theós) to save my play/thesis/"marriage".

Finally, I was going to apologise for the spurious nature of these connections and the loose associations between some of the links above, and I was going to blame Haruki Murakami's "Kafka on the Shore" for it. I'm reading (or should say devouring) it at the moment. It's a Book about fate, love, beliefs, setting things right in the cosmic order across different times, and finding purpose for lives and the missing other halves of ourselves. It reads like a thriller while being thickly intertextual and deeply philosophical with references to Greek tragedies and Kafka's surreal stories. It also has a lot of cats in it. Also, I'm 3/4 through the book and everything still hangs in the air, and while I begin to see the connections I can't wait for Murakami to tie them together. I'm reading the book when I'm supposed to do my work, hoping that it would inspire me and demonstrate how some order can finally be made, and that things can progress as a result. Seeing how someone can take multiple and seemingly non-related premises and link them in an surreal and fantastical way while still credibly talking about theories and corroborating and conflicting evidence would be beneficial, I think.

Then, if I'd be writing this entry properly, I'd probably decide to cut the Murakami-bit out and save that for a separate entry, so that I could write more about it. And I would just round off the blog entry with the triangle of love, order, and progress, and then decide to do like Kafka Tamura does in the book when things get too complicated - go to the gym.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The nicest blog entry I've read from you in a while. Happy to see you're reading the book and liking it and also happy to see the references on Greek tragedy (although I've seen them before), not to mention your exceptional command of the Greek language. Let the lipstick stains show, it's cool.