Friday, 29 May 2009

I take requests: "Remember that post you wrote about playing in the outfield and writing a dissertation? I'd love to read it again, now that I'm a week away from filing my dissertation." (Considering the alternatives, I love the fact that this post is the one I might be remembered for. As I noted at the time, I'd had this half-written for ages but never could quite finish it. This post is as close to naked as I get—so much so I deleted it two seconds after I'd posted it before reversing course. I've received emails thanking me for this post from struggling grad students in chemistry, physics, political science, geography, geology, English, Spanish, French, Russian, education, mathematics, astrophysics, statistics, philosophy, biology, molecular chemistry, history of consciousness, and dance departments. It is, as the person who requested I repost it tonight said, an academic version of "You Are Not Alone," which would be much more awesome if it didn't analogize me into Michael Jackson. That said, I'm more than happy to oblige this request, and apologize for the overlong introduction. But before I get to the post itself, I should say that [1] the reason my interlocutor couldn't find this post is because my category for all things baseball is the Spanish "béisbol," and [2] if you read my post without reading Wally's comment, you've done yourself a disservice.) In "On Sad and Joyful Passions of Academia," Anthony writes: I get that people are unhappy with their advisors, with the lack of support from the university, and from the seeming glacial pace of publishing ... But the complaints, especially from those fully funded at institutions I would imagine are very exciting, foster a different sad passion within me. They even foster a kind of resentment that they have been given this opportunity while I have to scratch out a future ... yet they seem to enjoy nothing about academic work. The best way to talk about academic work is baseball. This goes without saying. I played third base and shortstop. I played them well. I had sure hands and quick feet. When the ball screamed off the bat, there was no time to think. There was only time to react. Move the quick feet. Catch with sure hands. Throw the ball. In between pitches, I would look to the man to my left to make sure we knew our assignments. Then the ball would leave the pitcher's hand. Then the batter would swing. Move the quick feet. Catch with sure hands. Throw the ball. In the infield I felt like part of a team. I could look to my left and catch the second baseman's eye. I could look across the diamond and catch the first baseman's eye. I was a player among players. We all knew how to react and how to react together. Then one year my coach wanted me to play center field. Being a team player, I consented. I'd shagged flies during practice, and was better than most at going back on a ball. So why not? I left the dugout and jogged past my teammates. Then I kept jogging until my teammates looked like toy soldiers. I stood...

Become a Fan

Recent Comments