I just sent my first conference abstract (I got accepted). RELIEF. It took a few more days than I expected due to technicalities (like “please confirm your fellow authors accept the final version”) but there it is, out in the world. I got so much good advice from experienced colleagues and I’m eternally thankful. I was most amazed that my professor called me!! to give his feedback, and we had a pleasant hour-long chat. He called me! so exciting. Nothing like “come over to my office where ever you are so I’ll have a few words with you”.
I’ve mentioned earlier how I’ve been able to wrap up my thoughts on many academic topics during this writing-mini project. One of things I realized last thing was how I should approach this whole “selecting my preferred one from social sciences disciplines” problem. I understood that I have approached the issue like a problem of knowledge and how to gain it. I’ve assumed that all the disciplines are basically correct, from some angle, and all I need to do is to find a mental algorithm with which I can go through main disciplines and their current trends effectively and learn their basic tenets. Along the way I expected to bump into the approaches that I personally find to be closest to “truth”, that I want to use for my current research material, and that will be useful in the future.
After my professor called me, I realized that what theories he is proposing reflect his interests. It isn’t knowledge he’s trying to share. His bookshelf, that he always leans to when recommending “useful” resources to me, is basically about what he loves. It resembles a shelf full of LPs of a music lover, not a reference library with a nice sample from every classic writer in it.
I had already mentioned my another professor a couple of times that I am clearly selecting writers I prefer based on how I like their writing. This is because in my opinion, many writers often have structurally fairly similar ideas and thoughts, but they express them differently. I believe I have the freedom to choose which I prefer to read deeply and refer to. From now on, I will thus approach writers and books like a music fan. It shouldn’t be about right knowledge; it should be about what resonates in me. (I don’t care if Foucault or Featherstone is the greatest thing since sliced bread; I don’t care about their writing style. Instead, I like Francis Heylighen a lot.)
An important limitation of this is realizing the fact I’m not reading these writings because I am a music fan. I’m actually reading them to become a practitioner myself. Continuing the music business metaphor, I see there’s two roads to take. Either I become a musician in an established genre… say an older genre that is still so popular currently that there is an audience, and a knowledgeable, appreciative audience at that.
For me, this is like starting a band that admires Led Zeppelin and wants to play like them. The band will have an audience; but what will their impact be? For the very least, they will be always compared to the classics.
Second option is to admire some! classics, but do my own thing that is fresh and reflects the current day. There might be an audience; or it might still be in the making. I think I will take the second route. Robert Plant lives in teh houses of the Holy but he done it differently. 🙂