Tuesday, February 12, 2008

viva minus 9

so, have you checked out the Viva Viagra commercial yet?


Well - here it is for you. Or one of them, anyway. . . .

The band is pretty good.

You can tell I'm of a flippant disposition today. I haven't been doing the countdown and I discovered today that I'm already in the speed-up 10, 9, 8, 7 mode. . . . I still haven't made it through the dissertation all the way. May God have mercy on my poor. . . . [man! I can't even think of the word! What do you call it when you put things off? Right. That word] _________ing . . . . soul.

Today, via the Happiness Project, I came across an article about not adding value to other's ideas. I'd never heard it expressed this way, but I know exactly what they mean. I've always called people like that "dream cuckoos". They're people who try to deposit their own, unformed yet overgrown, awkward fledglings into the little dream nest you have labored over, to then crowd out or even devour your own little dreamlets. . . .

I've known quite a few of these people - there's one in my family (and it's not the king. . . .) - and I tend to give them a wide berth. Actually, I learned some time ago not to air early ideas at all. You've got to give them time to gestate first, or else they can get so mangled up that they'll never draw breath even if they do manage to see the light of day.

Do I try to "add value" to others' ideas?

I often want to. Sometimes I'm tempted to. But I usually default back to a cheerleading role fast enough, with an apology for trying to put my own oar in. I just remember how I feel when others start to try and hijack one of my dreamlets. Although sometimes people can come up with some good ideas! It's such a balance.

This was a difficulty I had with the whole academic process, by the way - as I realize just now, talking through it. I am of an artistic temperament, and tend to 'create' alone. The academic, however, also relies on community by which to work out ideas, sort through objections, and come up with consensus on solutions. This really is pretty antithetical to the artistic process, although - granted - artists also interact not only with one another, but also perhaps to an audience.

All this to say that I am not really looking forward to the viva insofar as it approaches an "adding value" process by which I must suffer the "good ideas" of others who have not spent 5 years on this. Even as I write this, I am very well aware of how unfair the suspected charge is. I know the internal examiner, and he's just great. He gives you lots of room for your own ideas, and with him it's always about the student and never about himself. He's one of the most generous people I know that way. His attitude also tends to rub off on others, so that before you know it, a room full of "Look at me!" students has become a very affirming exploration group.

I'm just not used to group explorations. They tend to go places I'm not that interested in. Or maybe it's just that I am boring, and they won't go there with me! In any event, I'm used to solo jaunts. . . .

Off now, to find something to munch on while I do some reading.

PS - the missing word, above, is "procrastinating". Right.

1 comment:

Lee Anne said...

"Adding value" -- very interesting! I will be pondering this as I write and interact with my profs. My husband is an engineer by degree and comes from a whole family of engineers -- they are always "adding value." The Pilot is getting better at this, at understanding before "adding" and at understanding artists (just as I am getting better at understanding engineers/air force officers/aviators).

I've always had a problem communicating in groups -- I tend to listen hard and talk little. If I do think of something to say (or add), it's often later after the moment has passed. I'll bring it up in conversation later when a one-on-one opportunity comes around.

Is there an audience in academia? Sometimes it seems that there really isn't one, that the whole practise is just to get your idea out there just to say that you have (for tenure, for funding, for your cv, for ...) As someone once said to me, "Our job is to give the bibliographers more work to do..."

Okay, back to my introduction... to lettting ideas gestate... I like the gardening/growing metaphors you use. I tend to use cooking ones -- simmer, marinate, braise... I'm hungry.

Best of luck with your preparations and dreamlets!