Saturday, February 6, 2010

I have a good ten years of this ahead of me

I need to think faster on my feet.

Yesterday I was confronted by an unpleasant situation that I couldn't negotiate because I - naively - expect humans to be polite individuals.

The situation reminded me of one I got myself into last year, at a banquet. A dissertation candidate was speaking about her research into European sailors in the Caribbean. I tried to establish myself as an intelligent person, and asked: "Have you been able to find more materials from ships logs, or captains' diaries,products lists? What sources have you been using?"

The girl gave me a withering look, and said, "I'm using primary sources. You see, there are two kinds of sources: primary, which are materials from the time period; and secondary, which are from previous researchers."

Step One: Peel Frozen Icarus' body away from the eighteen-wheeler that just blind-sided him.

Step Two: Reject all of the snotty comments that immediately come to mind, like: "Actually that's a reductive account of sources that doesn't call into account traces versus sources and historical errors from memory and the like," or something more blunt, like: "That wasn't my question, you [insert-derogatory-term-here]."

Step Three: Find a new conversation before facial muscles fail and the sneer developing reaches the surface.

Yesterday, I was introduced to a couple at a meet and greet, and explained my subject of investigation in some two or three sentences. The pair immediately launched into an attack of my methods, assuming that I am manipulating my sources and trying to prove "That Soviet architects think exactly like us."

The look of shock was apparently evident on my face (Step One). They "reassured" me: "Oh, we always talk about methodological questions like this, we weren't trying to piss all over your project."

Step Two: Faced with so many rejected possibilities, all I could say was, "No, they were legitimate concerns. I'll keep them in mind as I continue my research."

Step Three: Briullov arrived. Hurray!

I wish I had been quick-witted enough to say something veiled but still political, à la: "Please let me know if you still have those concerns after you've actually read my work!"

1 comment:

S.H.S said...

after ten years, you get to start talking down to the next generation of vain-paranoid-masochist-egoists?

WV: mycrysms
[my crying-spasms?]
[my crying SMS?]