Thursday, April 13, 2006

Nothing Much

I don’t really have anything to say, but for some reason I feel like blogging. Partly this is because Channel Ten is showing an episode of Medium that I’ve seen before; I find it slightly annoying that they interrupt the flow of the current season to repeat episodes from other seasons (even worse, from earlier in the current season) during the school holiday period, or when any other channel is hosting a major sporting event, or for no reason whatsoever. At the moment I think that if I watched the repeat then I’d just be watching television for the sake of it, and although I watch a lot of television, I am engaged while I’m doing it. It may seem strange to those who regard television as passivity-inducing, but I truly don’t watch TV just to ‘veg. out’, whether I’m watching Survivor XII or Six Feet Under.

Another reason why I’ve decided to post tonight is that I’m aware I’ve been comparatively lax in attending to this blog since I began my PhD, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to, well, not do something about it specifically—that would take a long term commitment to regular posting—but, at least, make more than one post this week. I think it’s probably quite proper, given my propensity for long posts, that I don’t post as frequently as I did when I first started this blog. I should be devoting most of my time to working on my thesis, rather than spending too much time composing posts, which I have a tendency to do.

The observation that I don’t post as regularly now as I once did goes to the heart of why I started to blog. Effectively, I was highly educated, yet underemployed; I was used to having an arena in which to express, through discussion and writing, a whole range of thoughts, theories and arguments. My decision to start a blog was not dissimilar to why I concluded many people self-publish zines: it was a use of a highly developed literacy that was enabled by my proximity and access to a computer and the Internet. I also found—and still do—that having a blog allowed me to think aloud, but in a way that pushed me to follow my thoughts through and articulate them as clearly as I could. Sometimes my thoughts are expressed in a rather elliptical fashion, and I quite enjoy being able to drift along in that way, since, aside from zines, there are no other readily accessible mediums that would allow me to write non-fiction in this style. Other times I’ve liked the self-imposed project of working through a thought. It was in this way that I found out I need a minimum of 1000 words to say anything. It was also by pursuing my fleeting thoughts in writing that I came to realise I was capable of producing more words per day than I had previously believed. What a great thing to discover upon entering a PhD program! Of course I recognise that a blog and a doctoral dissertation are vastly different genres, but from a confidence boosting perspective, the realisation was invaluable.

Even while I’ve been talking about writing fewer posts, I remain committed to this blog for reasons that develop the above observations about the specificity of the blog as a medium. I know that some people hope to turn their blogs into books, or at least use them as a kind of rehearsal for writing material that will inform their work in other media. I have no difficulty with this use of the blog form—the ease of self-publishing on the Internet lends itself to such applications—but that’s not my intent. Rather, in the blog form, I feel that I’ve discovered a place to write that is uniquely suited to my non-academic register. I learned a while ago now that I’m not a fiction writer; I’m not compelled to write in the way that many writers of fiction describe, and when I read fiction, I know I don’t have the talent to be published. But since I began Galaxy, I’ve discovered that I do want to write something other than academic prose.

A question that arises at this point is ‘Why not just write a journal’?, especially in view of the often personal nature of the content of this blog. To that I’ll begin by saying—if you haven’t already noticed— that I’m an inveterate theoriser. This tendency to pontificate seems to lend a political, if not necessarily public, dimension to my writing, and those moments where I draw conclusions for a broader audience from my personal experience, seem to demand the attention of said audience, and blogging allows me to easily distribute my brand of writing to them. Or at least 5 or 6 of them.


Galaxy said...

This was cut out of the final draft:

A new reader of Galaxy commented that she had found a link to this site from PhD Weblogs. Knowing this gave me pause, not least because I had not initiated the link, but also because, while I list my occupation as ‘PhD Candidate’, I’ve never conceived of this self-publishing endeavour as a PhD related project, not even since my candidature officially commenced. I know I write a lot about my existence as a postgraduate, but while I’ve told a few other PhD students and early career academics about my blog, they are also friends and, with the exception of Dogpossum and Tseen, both of whom are in a different city to me, not really regular visitors to the blogosphere or even my blog. I’ve had ‘real-world’ conversations about blogs with people who I know blog openly as postgraduate and early career academics, but I haven’t told them that I have a blog. My hesitation could be about self-consciousness, I suppose, but it’s also about the fact that I assume a different register in each realm; I behave differently, but, I would argue, appropriately in each setting. If I were to forge a conscious connection between my professional postgraduate self and my blogger persona, then I would most likely feel bound by the rules of professional academic conduct on the blogspot site. I would use proper names, my own and others, instead of the poor efforts at anonymity I currently attempt, and I would not have posted on the topic of bridal shower invitations or a scurrilous younger brother.

Lucy said...

I know what you mean about behaving properly for each realm. I keep thinking I'd like to start a separate blog that's more related to my PhD program, and more political than my current self-indulgent whine-fest, but I don't think I'm actually that thoughtful, unfortunately.
I'm glad you're continuing to blog, anyway.

dogpossum said...

Wait, you guys can differentiate between work and play?
One of the problems of doing your phd on stuff you do everyday is a distinct failure to compartmentalise. I find that my academic style leaks out onto swing dance forums, my dance talk bleeds into my blog and so on and so on. Even more problematic is the fact that I think like a dancer when I'm working on the thesis, and I think like a phd kid when I'm dancing.
And you know that expression "you think too much"?* Well, when you're dancing, it's definitely not good to think too much.
... it reminds me of yoga and how we work on 'being here' - really being 'in our bodies' when we're working. Personally, I find that I'm so busy sweating and grunting I forget to fuss over non-yoga stuff. But it's an interesting idea - being 'in your body' and being really, truly 'here'. Actually being rather than theorising about whatever it is you're doing (or being). And I guess the interesting bit is not so much whether or not you're in your body or not or whatever, but the way different discourses describe and imagine how we should 'imagine' our participation in a particular activity (whether that activity's watching telly, grunting into downdog, dancing or getting a chapter done).

My absolute favourite thing is the way partner dancing is all about communicating through physical interaction (and communication being facilitated by being in your body) - communicating with your partner through touch and momentum and inertia and body awareness; yoga is all about communicating with yourself and being 'in your body'; and phding is about being 'in your head' but also communicating via articulation. Such interesting contrasts and contradictions.

...I figure you won't mind me blathering on like this in your comments rather than my own blog, skirt, do you?

*I still can't forget that one time, galaxy - you are my feminist academic hero forever.

Galaxy said...

I suspect my wish to keep the two realms separate might have something to do with not wanting to be adversely effected in my professional life by the fall out from any unseemly outburst or overly confessional moment I might make on this blog.

I suppose there are two things I'm struggling to say here. The one I started to say was that I love the mode of expression that blogging affords me, because I truly don't think it's like any other medium/genre. The second is that since the blogosphere is a more confessional, personal, off the cuff opinionated, blathering and ranty environment, I wouldn't want to take that private aspect of it into my professional life.

Sometimes you just need to have a good cry or scream of frustration to your online friends. And I love that blathering, ranting aspect of blogging--especially whent it's the blathering of a swinging feminist ; )

Lucy Tartan said...

Ah well, I figure I'm not going to get a job anyway, so I may as well blog whatever I like :-)

Lucy Tartan said...

I had to come back to tell you that the word verification for the last comment was "eggyhqpd" - that seems eerily appropriate for this blog....

Galaxy said...

Did you notice how restrained I was over Easter on the egg theme? I do seem strangely obsessed with them.

Tseen said...

only just catching up now. I registered my academia 101 blog at PhD weblogs because Tom told me about it. my other one, though, isn't exactly a secret cos it's linked from my online CV (which is linked to the Asian Australian Studies page). you've probably read my whingey, half-arsed posts about feeling constricted in what I can say or post about. it's v. annoying (me having a whinge, that is).

your blog is so refreshing after seeing way too many academic wankers keeping self-indulgently intellectual blogs that 'speak to' their research. my take on it? if you're going to go to that much trouble to work through a concept, issue, whatever, go and frickin' publish it. I like my blog-reading to be engaging and fun - what's the point otherwise? there's already too much craptastic, pseudo-intellectual stuff out there on aca journals. the fact that yours doesn't reference your phd research as a primary thing is a social good.

Galaxy said...

Well, I'm all for increasing my contribution to the social good--I don't think that $15 per month to the Wilderness Society goes very far.
I like 'refreshing', puts me in mind of that noise when you turn the lid on a fizzy drink and hope it doesn't explode in your face ; )