Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cheers to a Day of Gloom

I can't say I'm in the best of my moods right now. In fact, the reason why I'm sitting here having a German beer at 5 pm in the afternoon at a recently discovered Internet cafe in Shibuya is I'm feeling like crap.

An e-mail from someone received earlier this morning noted 3 things:

1) To enter an academic career that highlights writing, one has no excuse but to produce things to prove one's competency in scholarship.
2) Given the increasingly competitive nature of the job market in academia, one needs to finish dissertation writing as soon as possible b/c there's no guarantee that the job search could be done within one year.
3) To best help one get focused and write, the best place to reside in would be Cambridge, Mass b/c there's absolutely nothing to do there.

And the reason why I'm feeling like crap is:

1) Even though the only way to prove my competency in scholarship is to produce academic writing, currently, the idea of "academic" or "scholarly" competency means very little to me. Nor does it - I believe or I hope - define who I am, what my characters are, what I'm aspired to become, or where my dreams lie. So what's the point of "proving" it? For what purpose and for whose glory?

2) Even though it is true that in order to compete and survive well in the increasing competitive market of academia, one has no choice but to sit down, get focused, and get that dissertation done, at this point, a job in the academia offers absolutely no appeals to me. I need and want and love and thrive in the presence of human interactions. Unfortunately, academia is one the worst places to look for human interactions. On the contrary, it sometimes is a resourceful pool for meeting some of the weirdest, EQ-less, and warmless figures on this planet.

3) Even though it is true that Cambridge, Mass has absolutely nothing to offer besides academic excellency and geniuses in extremity, going back there would only help me feel further lost, depressed, and SMALL about myself.

I've been told that getting a Ph.D. degree is just like getting a driver's license. There really isn't much of a grandiose meaning or significant purpose in taking the driving test and passing it, but if one wants to drive, one has no choice but to take it.

4 years ago I wouldn't have believed in that analogy or laughed at it, because I always thought that there inherently lies in some kind of noble cause or truth in the field of academia. 4 years later from the first day I entered the field of academia and doctoral learning, I've come to realize that that may be the best analogy that summaries the intrinsic truth about doctoral degrees.

I'm grateful to be in Tokyo here where other windows of opportunities and facets of the world, cultures, and peoples have been opened up to me. More importantly, it offers me the space and time to really think back on the dreams that I once had and the values that I once believed in regardless of how much people around me may say otherwise. It makes me sad to think that for some people whom I call "colleagues" in my fiend, they would never come to appreciate that or even recognize that. But being here, day by day I've become more ad more affirmed of one thing - the world is big and the possibilities/opportunities are infinite out there if only one has the courage, an open heart, and freedom of mind to dream and explore.

For now, I'm grateful for the good German beer that accompanies me in this afternoon of gloom - "Salitos," it's called. I recommend it for a taste if anyone ever gets a chance.

梅ちゃん at 5:30:00 PM



at 2/29/08, 7:56 PM Anonymous komaba said...

The beer is indeed tasty.


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