Tag Archives: PhD

In Praise of the Arts and Huge Manatees, or, Where’s My Job?

You can't be mad at me for leaving the blog for months, not if I bring you A UNICORN!!!

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

– Carl Sagan

Well, HELLO AGAIN, you fabulous unicorns of delight! I have been away from the bloggernet for a while. You might have assumed that I was gone for good, but in actual fact I was just busy slaying the Balrog in the depths of Moria. By ‘Balrog’, I mean ‘thesis’, and by ‘Moria’ I mean ‘the library’. Although both processes may result in an elderly man shouting ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!’

Having recently staggered out of the university library after a long imprisonment*, pale and shaking, my thoughts turn once again to the Great Big Real Job In The Sky, to which all good PhD students hope to ascend if they are very good and commit no heinous sins, such as Chicago-style referencing, or citing Wikipedia as a source. Given that I’m in the final year of my socially and culturally invaluable doctorate (snort!), my thoughts have been turning to the GBRJ for some time now. And I conclude, after extensive empirical research, that there is no GBRJ and that all arts and humanities students are doomed – doomed! – to work either in call centres or, if we’re really really lucky, to become hipster baristas at the local artisanal-organic-cooperative coffee place. I’d like to offer a suggested revision to the well-known ‘Kids! Don’t do drugs!’ slogan: KIDS, DON’T DO HISTORY. OR LITERATURE, OR ART, OR PHILOSOPHY. If my predictions for the future are correct (based mostly upon Futurama and old episodes of The Jetsons), we’re all being replaced by robots and the Internet anyway. When machines inevitably rise up against humanity, you’ll find me making a valiant and glorious last stand in a library, fighting off hordes of malevolent Kindles while defiantly yelling out quotations from Pope and Balzac and Waugh. While Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice plays in the background. Continue reading

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On Miró and Meaning: A Review

Blue II - Joan Miró (1961) © Successió Miró

I recently saw the new Miró retrospective at the Tate Modern in London (for free, thanks to a friend who works there – thank you S!). Despite the exhibition focusing on an artist whose work – 20th century Surrealism – couldn’t be further from my own research on 18th century engravings, I couldn’t help but be struck by the fact that Miró’s oeuvre essentially raises the same questions that I am trying to work through in my thesis. Namely, from where or what the ‘meaning’ in an image is derived, and how does the process of interpreting that meaning work for the individual viewer?

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The parasitic pedagogue?

A PhD? We always knew you would end up doing something like that. Everyone must be so proud!

Did you, now? Did you indeed? How very perspicacious of you. Because I certainly didn’t. As with everything else I have ‘achieved’, I stumbled upon it in search of the praise, the recognition, the tangible achievement upon which my self-worth has largely been predicated since childhood. I have, in a sense, jumped through a series of social, academic and financial hoops in order to be able to counter ‘And what is it that you’re doing now?’ with something that allows me to project competence, intelligence and success. That ‘something’ just happens to be ‘a doctorate’. Sounds fancy? Perhaps. But still, just hoops.

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