As the prof suggested, Week 11 is "the wall," and no theorist could be more appropriate for it than Habermas. So what if I am completely baffled by reading him? So what if I feel like the stupidest person in the room for two hours? I got my peeps.
Lunch I took with Natalie, who seems much happier in real life than in her blog. We are both taking the Theory prelim in the spring, along with this year's brain trust of Kartik, Isaac, Çigdem, and several others. "Um, theory is my second field." The highlight of the lunch was hearing about the travails of a fellow grad student, now ABD and on her way. Sometimes a touch of schadenfreude is the best you can achieve.
After lunch, while scanning an article I mistakenly thought I had to read, I talked with an advanced grad student — in fact the most advanced grad student in residence. She recounted the lemma a predecessor had postulated: "There are two ways I am leaving the department: (A) The Department will kick me out, and (B) They will give me a diploma. They have declined to choose option (A), ergo (B)." For myself, I am not entirely sure that they have not chosen (A). After oral exams, I may be more certain, and more hopeful. The advanced grad student also told me about the short memories of faculty: evidently, they do not remember if you low-pass or even fail. They do not remember the tears and the suffering. The relationship changes to one where they "produce" you as a scholar without doing damage to their own reputation.
After seminar —the one where I felt like a moron—I had another pep talk, this time from a fellow grad student who has had her share of suffering in the department. It turns out that her research interests are somewhat tangentially related to my own, and one of her fields is methodology. This could be promising. While entirely unsure of my ability to contribute anything to her project, I could see us working together. She was very encouraging, if not as enthusiastic as I about partnering up on an article. We talked about the inevitable and sometimes persistent dark times at the Department. "Grad school sucks" seemed to be a refrain. What was particularly encouraging was that she had really regretted coming to Minnesota, and now she was glad she had. Evidently, the good people in the department have come to her aid more than once. As she was doing for me. Sure, I was giving her a lift home. But still.
At the end of the day, I love talking about the reading, and I love talking about the work. But sitting down to do it, that is another matter. And that is why I am off to see the head shrinker.Posted by webs0080 at November 19, 2004 7:37 AM