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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Thursday, January 14, 2010


What recharges your batteries? What depletes them? I want you to make your own list.

For me:

Being around really smart people. Traveling to Spain and buying books. Reading or re-reading really great primary texts of literature. Having a productive day of work. Receiving very good reviews of my own work. Being cited by other scholars, even if they don't agree with me. Cleaning my office and getting rid of clutter. Eating really good food. Working on the "scholarship base." Music. Reading novels in languages I don't know. Exercise. Sleep. Stupid motivational tricks.

Teaching bad students. Grading papers. Reading crappy scholarship. Evaluating crappy scholarship. Bad dissertations. Department meetings. Having too much "dead time" when I'm neither working nor doing anything particularly enjoyable. Isolation from other human beings. Being around human beings I don't have much in common with. Aimless web-browsing. Waiting around for other people to do things. Stress in relationships.

Now that you have a list similar to mine, figure out how to maximize the battery recharging part and minimize the depletion. Here's the thing: you won't be able to eliminate everything that depletes your energy. Nor will you be able to maximize everything that replenishes you. I believe, however, that there is always something you can do to change the balance between replenishment and depletion. Looking at my own list, I see that I can check out some German novels from the library and read them rather than surfing the net aimlessly; I can continue to rid my office of clutter and eat something excellent for dinner. This stupid motivational trick works best if you can make a direct trade of something good for something depleting or simply neutral.

1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

Watch out, I'm about to stop reading SMT and go pick up a poetry book ...

But I LIKE reading SMT (as well as reading poetry books). :-)