Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Getting from A to Z

So I had an extended meeting the other day with one of my supervisors, who was wanting an update on what I’ve been doing. I gather I might have provided… too much of an update. After listening congenially to my attempt to outline – and probably over-complicate – a set of theoretical distinctions, my supervisor interrupted to say, “You know what’s really amazing about all this? That you can do it all with only 26 letters!”

I’ve been in hysterics about this comment for the past several days, and I keep thinking about blogging about it, and then worrying that it might come across the wrong way if one of my supervisors happens to glance in. We’ll hope it suffices to say that the reason I find the comment so funny is that, in certain respects, it may well have been the perfect response: there’s just something this reaction captures, in a particularly pristine way, about my own difficulties getting across to other people why I’m engaged with this really abstract material, such that it sort of forces people to really scratch their heads wondering what meaning I find in all of it, and what they can possibly say in response…

In the same meeting, I mentioned an invitation I’ve received to present on some of the issues we were discussing – specifically, I mentioned that I am terrified at the prospect of presenting. My supervisor was very interested in this. It kept coming up. I’d be in the middle of talking about something else, and he’d go, “So – did you mean it, when you said you were terrified?” and “So… N. is terrified by something, huh?” and “Terrified, hmm? That’s really good to know!” I gather from these comments that I must come across as not being easy to terrify… ;-P This is actually a profound misunderstanding – as I’ve mentioned on the blog a number of times, for example, I’m terrified of posting my writing in public – I just do it anyway, in part because it annoys me that I feel this way, and I see no other viable way of working out how best to function through this reaction, other than placing myself in the situation over and over again. Similar considerations apply to presentations. Evidently I must put up a convincing front.

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