is always an interesting experience precisely because you don’t have it. Or rather, you have the experience of hearing about someone else’s experience of you, in a narrative directly addressed at you, but not the same you that is described in the experience (which is, of course, the virtual you).
I’ll certainly never be prolific.
But the question right now is more how to ensure that I am productive.
I am a victim of inertia. Or, rather, I am addicted to it. Inertia is my weakness. Self-confidence is my bugbear. I become complacent because I am too satisfied.
I need to be less satisfied.
What is the reservoir of creativity?
I bought a bunch of creativity books some time ago, but they didn’t really help with anything; they were more like “getting past mental blocks” lists. I suppose the bigger question is precisely what I mean by creativity, and in my case, I mean the sufficient will to burn energy in pursuit of insightful/useful/meaningful novelty.
Maybe even the sufficient will to burn any energy at all for any reason.
One of the most regrettable things about graduate school is the way in which it can take a bright young mind and turn it off.
I have seen too much of this, both in myself and in others.
Though everyone gets turned off in their own unique and highly flavorful way, the net result is that many of the best and brightest potential problem-solvers and insight-generators of the last several (and, no doubt, next several) generations have been/are/will be lost, replaced by those with a high tolerance for bureaucracy, schmoozing, process, and banality, i.e. the born middle managers.
Iron cage, Weber, etc. Bureaucracy produces bureaucrats, who naturally intensify the bureaucratic nature of society, which produces even more and stronger bureaucrats.
My own form of “being turned off” is precisely a lack of drive. When I went to Chicago, I was driven and ready to do mind-numbingly brilliant things. Instead, process, the inherent conservatism of structural paradigms, and the politics that inhere in those that are extant today combined to sour and dull my output and to press me right out the door after getting my M.A., back to the world of the corporation and the cubicle.
These, of course, I hate, so after a cooing-off period rather like standing up and gasping for air in the middle of an extended and breathless swim in a shallow public pool, I dove right back into academics by joining the New School, once again driven.
Two years later I am done with Ph.D. coursework, have produced a perfect grade point average, several scholarships, a bunch of honors in this and that, and so on, and I am on a roll… and somehow they decide that once again it is a good idea to drop the middle management anvil on me, burying me unexpectedly beneath several metric tons of bureaucracy, red tape, speed bumps, and departmental and interdepartmental politics.
Seven months later, having waded through this sludge and successfully come out the other end, my motivation is once again gone. Once again any academic thought that enters my head wants to flee, or perhaps to be loaded into the barrel of a gun and shot at any pile of paperwork nearby.
They have taken a student that was making rapid, roaringly brilliant progress at the top of a department and stopped him dead in his tracks.
– momentum –
– gone –
I don’t know if I can get it back, and/or how long it will take me to do so.
I do know that I think a great deal less of the world of the academy in general than I did before coming to the New School, just as was the case at Chicago. Just like my wife, I question more and more precisely what percentage of the population of professional scholars is actually of interest to me and what percentage is absolute tenured dead wood with an entitlement complex and a reactionary streak.
Before undergrad my thought was 100:0—100 percent amazing intellectuals, certainly no total tripe.
After undergrad my thought was 90:10.
After my M.A. my thought was 50:10.
Most of the way through my Ph.D. my thought is 5:95.
There are maybe 1,000 scholars worldwide that contribute in keeping with their inflated status and wage. The rest are philistines and narcissists.