15 September 2006

(1) undiscovered country!

after nineteen years of classes (often, though not always, classes-for-classes'-sake), i seem to have embarked on something new, or at least new-ish. there are a million things to do -- that is not new -- but suddenly they all seem very directed. i need to learn spanish because i will likely do some field work in latin america, and qualitative methodology because i will likely do some field work. i need to teach because that'll be a big part of my job some day soon. and civil wars seminar for my lit review. prospectus working group for the prospectus, duh. R and java in order to know how to handle myself in california this spring. california this spring because that is how i will measure my dependent variable. everything, the courses and the committee work and all of it, is aimed at turning me into a person with an interesting and rigorous project, a book on the other side, and a saleable cv.

there is an interesting tension here between knowledge for knowledge's sake and knowledge for the sake of getting your ass on the tenure track. (this is to say nothing of the reeeally interesting differences between types of knowledge that you might want to pick up "for knowledge's sake." for example, i seem to be better at trivia than at any sort of systematic pursuit.) i suppose i've been unnecessarily disdainful of the ass-on-tenure-track sort of knowledge, assuming it to be less congruent/coterminous/whatever with knowledge for its own sake (which is somehow more morally pure?) than perhaps it actually is. in the brand new world that is the third year, the fact that there's no tenure-producing knowledge without an abiding for-its-own-sake interest at the bottom is suddenly very clear. if i didn't ramble or jabber or overemphasize or otherwise geekify every time somebody asked what i mean by "repertoires of violence," there'd be no project-directed, ass-on-track seeking this semester.