Tuesday, 2 December 2014


Parks and Recreation's moustachioed libertarian Ron Swanson says "never half-ass two things: whole-ass one thing". Today I worked for six hours in the library IT Helpzone, spent two hours recording a podcast (don't worry, it will be edited!), have done some reading for a seminar on Friday and have another article to read before bed. In the next month and a bit I'll be writing PhD proposals and a masters essay, while working two part-time jobs. Plus Christmas. I'm writing this while sort-of watching Spaced on 4od. I'm about as far from following Swanson's advice as I can get.

So, would I recommend this? Well, no, don't be daft. If you can find a way of studying full-time, that's almost certainly the way to go. Of course, if you've got a job which relates to the studying you want to do things might be different. But in general I'd go with Ron.

Which isn't to say it can't be done. I sort of play a mental trick on myself by thinking of all these various things as ultimately being one thing. While working in a supermarket is unlikely to help me study the peripheries of colonial cities in Africa, for the moment it is necessary for me to do the former to enable the latter. Having clear objectives allows me to cast everything I do as part of a greater goal. I'm also capable of achieving an incredibly little when I don't have clear aims ;)

Having said that, I'm not up for doing this indefinitely. By the time I finish my MA next September it will have taken two years of my life (really more like three) as well as all my money and a considerable portion of my creative energies. I am dedicated to creation of knowledge, which is the ultimate aim of academia, but there reaches a point where one's calling has to start paying. It can't be a hobby indefinitely. Quite apart from its affect on me personally, I can't see it being great for academia. The age of the amateur is long over. 

I am in the last university course that I will pay for. If academia wants me any longer, it can pay me.*

*[contains strong language]