Saturday, 13 February 2010

notes on the letter 'p'... the sequel

Professor pleased with Protestant penitential performance paper.  Phew.  :)     

Writing the paper [on the General Fast of 1565/66] for the 'conference' has been very, very helpful.  Test-drove a theory on performance and it didn't veer off into a ditch but, rather, seemed to work.  And has made me realise that the current chapter I'm writing will need to be totally re-written, but this is okay.  Has also made me rethink my whole overall approach to the thesis, which is useful.  I realised I'd got bogged down in the overall text and forgotten to focus in on the actual performance stuff that crops up within the text.
D'Oh.
Muddied the waters.
But thinking is perhaps becoming clearer now.
I hope. 

Talking to my most excellent supervisor, I recognised that the difficulty has been that I feel like I am essentially trying to discover a whole new language in which to write.  And because I haven't yet got to grips with the language myself, I'm toiling to communicate in a meaningful way with her.
And this is odd.
Normally we are very much on the same wave-length, or think along a similar line - themes, big pictures, that sort of thing: there's a shared language.
But this research is proving to be different.
And so ... we struggle to communicate, roll our eyes, laugh, some hair is ripped out, and we keep plugging away.
I'm incredibly fortunate to have her as a supervisor: she's superbly generous, diligent, and such an all-round good egg.  I look around at some other PG's and know it's not the same for everyone.

It's a funny [well, sometimes ripping-head-out-of-hair actually, as noted above!] experience this whole PhD lark.  I keep realising the more I find out about something, the less I actually know.  I also wonder if on my death-bed I will utter the words 'I spent my whole life learning I know nothing' - ahhh, such a cheering thought.  Ah, actually, I don't mind at all - maybe realising you know nothing is perhaps the beginning of wisdom? 
The thing also seems to grow legs everywhere and run all over the place - need to practice the art of using a lasso.
And I get so mind-achingly tired. 
A friend observed the other day that when he asks how I am, I always reply within the context of the current state of play of the thesis.  Oh dear.  The thesis and I have this weird symbiotic relationship now.  I feel I'm in some bizarre academic version of Deep Space Nine, or some such.

And yet, I think that finally, I may be on to something.
And perhaps it may be vaguely useful.
And... oddly, nobody seems to really have done this before.
And that, in itself, is strangely exciting.
Perhaps I'm finally accepting and embracing my inner geek.
Just wish I didn't have a penchant for doing things the difficult way.  :)

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