There are a lot of things that were unexpected about undertaking a PhD of this type.
I thought that it would help me to feel more like I knew things; that it would orient me in my field in a way that was empowering and connecting. I hoped that I could reconcile several different fields that I love, along with their methodologies and paradigms. Maybe I still will?
I am besotted with the history of ideas, not solely for the ideas themselves, but more so for what it represents, whenever a human being tries to form their lived context and experience into a coherent system or text. Each attempt occurs within temporal and perceptive limitations, within a specific individual’s experience of a specific cultural moment.
And yet, as we each live out our tiny sliver of the collective human experience, we have, habitually, sought to articulate absolutes, universals, and general truths.
In our era, we distrust the activity somewhat. We are broadly conditioned towards skepticism, especially as we reach out beyond ourselves into the connected global community. Our paradigms are shifting: our senses of cultural authority, ethics and communication are built via vastly different experiences to the generations preceding us.
There is no script.
And yet, we are not all qualified for this new freedom, the primary evidence being our ongoing frailty and discontent. Society’s connectedness has the capacity for cooperation and collaboration in social formation on an unprecedented scale. And yet, whilst we are not necessarily individually rudderless, we struggle to choose a common direction. We are afraid, lost in a sea of voices, and still broadly powerless, unless we cooperate.
I know slivers of the history. I find beautiful things, sometimes. Ideas, poems, pictures, fragments… a beach-comber, with seashells to show you, and questions to ask. But still, essentially, a vagrant: not merely in the ideological sense, but someone who remembers sleeping in cold, hungry places, wondering how this could have happened.
But I find beautiful things, sometimes. Seashells to show you, and questions to ask.