Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Last 8 Weeks

"There is nothing for a man but genius or despair."
William Carlos Williams

Lately, I have been reconsidering my use of social media and I have now decided to stop blogging. During the next eight weeks, I'll be winding this blog down, taking stock of what I have accomplished and making decisions about future projects. Some of these will be online, but they will not be carried out in "real" time.

Social media—communication by post, update, comment, and tweet—is merely one thing the Internet can be used for. It puts your thoughts into contact with those of others virtually (!) instantaneously. While there are obvious benefits to this, I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with participating in "the life of the mind" at this pace. I want to move to into a "deeper" layer of thought, if you will, where we are communicating, not about what's on our minds at a particular moment, but what we have known for a while. Readers of this blog will recognize this ambition as more "academic".

The pace of academic life has itself been changing during the time that I've been blogging. Scholarship is under increasing pressure to make itself "relevant", and scientific work has indeed become more "social" in a number of ways. Some people, of course, thrive under these conditions. My sympathies—and my empathies—are increasingly with those who do not. I still hold out hope that something can be done.

The next eight weeks will be devoted to trying to express that hope. This will unavoidably require me to address some sources of despair. The idea is to overcome them with whatever genius we can muster.