Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Much Needed Dinner Party

Disclaimer: Here's a largely incoherent rant on a variety of topics. It lacks proper focus or methodology. Forgive me - I am tired! Following my torturous sleep study experience, I've been told my sinus issues and the perpetual physical and emotional pain my mind has been consciously blocking out for years may be manifesting in ways that disrupt my sleep patterns. After being hooked up to over 100 wires Monday night, I woke up partially paralyzed and with severe back pain at 4am from not properly repositioning my back in the night due to the feeling of ensnarement associated with the wires and the lousy bed. The experience ruined my entire day and I bombed an Italian quiz and couldn't concentrate during my Greek seminar. After sleeping better Tuesday night I was able to attend a good dinner party last night at my adviser's house for a friend of mine who will receive his PhD in a couple of weeks before going off to a tenure track job in Denver. They had him here 7 years after he came in with an MA. I played the political game at dinner pretty well, and spent alot of time conversing with the adviser of my adviser at UO who has been teaching at this school since the 50's. He even taught this fall for one quarter, and I hope my mind holds up half as well after that many years. In any case, I heard alot of good stories and had a very good evening. Although, the brain power in the room displayed by the 6 Profs in attendance made me feel intellectual deficient. I very rarely feel that way in any circumstance, but it sometimes happens. I think most view me favorably- at least I hope so! If I could get the medical people to help me get a bit more focus and brain capacity I should be fine. I'm in a weird hybrid situation where I do exceptional on the history side of things in my home department, and I do alright with my archaeology and somewhat well with my Classics courses. The History Dept has a very good dynamic that is very great to work in, but the Classics program I am required to work in has a much more cutthroat dynamic of deliberate attrition and competition - and these people usually specialize in philological analysis. I employ a wider approach in my historiography, which has many advantages, but I have a built in philological disadvantage because I'm not as narrowly specialized. Therefore, when I have to take courses in their departments I'm not on equal footing, while these students very rarely look to engage in historically themed courses. I'm all for overt competition when it is of the martial combat variety because the validity of the superiority of the victor is obvious and validated by the killing and/or subjugation of the shamed opponent. When might makes right, as it often does because morality tends to be a justified construct of delusional self-righteousness, argument over the nuances is meaningless. The subjective nature of intellectual valuation and combat I find to be inaccurate in many cases. Some people that do certain philological tasks often allow arguments to become lost in a quagmire of literary analysis, or they are so hyper-specialized they are completely irrelevant in any practical way. I sometimes think I come across this when dealing with certain elements I find in other departments and certain sub-fields in history. My field of Ancient History is a hybrid field that will require me to be able to function in a wide variety of other departments. Unfortunately, this dynamic may slow my progression and the timing of my completion, if they don't toss me out with the over 50% that don't make it, as I address the requirements and approaches in other departments. This may cost me a shot at possible job openings I would be well-positioned to pursue. I'm trying to get done in 4-5, but it may not be possible because of the external departments I have to deal with. Now, I must return to Greek translation. That is all!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Electrodes to the Brain

I am about to go stay in the hospital for the evening so the medical powers that be can study my sleep patterns and oxygen intake. My brain capacity continues to deteriorate and I feel increasingly lethargic. I'll be my pessimistic self and anticipate them finding an inoperable brain tumor. After establishing such low expectations, I'll be mildly relieved to find out from them that I will be likely to live for a few more decades in this veil of tears. Maybe I'll get lucky, and they'll have some ideas of ways that might improve my situation. Unfortunately, this overnight diagnostic will cause me to flail at an Italian test and in my Greek translation tomorrow. They'll release me just in time to mess up my entire schedule even worse. I just need this hellish quarter to be over. I'll post again soon if I make it out of the hospital. Fine!