my monkied brain (katekat1010) wrote,
my monkied brain

Kaja Silverman was giving a talk introducing her new book yesterday and she reminded me of some of the essentials of scholarship (even though I'm not sure if she intended to):
  • love the texts you're working on
  • if you do what you do will have meaning
  • don't forget the theory; and Freud may have gotten everything wrong but he's useful
I first read her Subject of Semiotics in Earl Jackson's Theory 101 class at Santa Cruz.  I'd failed the Theory 101 class I'd taken the quarter before and I thought I hated theory.  Then we read this book, along with Earl's warning that we weren't going to understand anything we read until at least a week after we read it -- but that we needed to do the reading anyway.  That, and the talking we did in the class that I often felt was over my head but ... just over it, so I could kind of reach that level sometimes, made me realize that I kind of love theory.  I love the idea that someone out there wants to talk about meaning, and that there are different ways to figure it out, different guides, different scaffolds.  And we're all operating under those scaffolds anyway, so we may as well know about 'em.

(ok, that's probably the subject of a much longer post, because it's a gut feeling and something I have a little trouble articulating, but the basic premise is that honestly? we all employ theory all the time to make most of our judgements, we just pretend we don't).

And today I am beginning to freak out for intellectual reasons.  The new school is a great environment, and I'm getting to work with someone whose work totally excites me, but on the other hand I'm feeling a little lost at this moment in time.  I have two 20-page papers due in a couple of weeks and I have absolutely NO idea what it is I want to write for either of them.  Some vague notion of new media in Japan, and some vague idea about post-war Japanese film and that's all I've got. 

On the way home I realized that part of my trouble is that I'm not speaking intellectually to anyone in my field right now.  Oh, the girls in my cohort are nice, but they're all in slightly different areas (hello classical Chinese linguistics, do you care about my stuff? do i care about yours? not for paper writing/discussion).  I've got to try tomorrow to meet with my advisor and figure out what direction I'm taking this semester.  It's overdue, and I think I let the fact that she and I are not getting along like houses on fire sort of distract me.  Just because we don't get each other doesn't mean I shouldn't talk with her about these things.

I know.  *hangs head* figuring out this whole business seems like it's long overdue.  I can't believe the semester is done in like two weeks.
Tags: phd program, random whittering
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