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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, August 9, 2012


What are the factors that hold you back? Criticism from others leading to self-doubt? Fear of rejection? An institutional culture discouraging research and intellectual pursuits generally? A lack of adequate knowledge or training? Your own bad work habits?

How much of this under your own control? You can control your own work habits to a large extent. You cannot prevent people from criticizing your work or rejecting you, but you can develop strategies for dealing with this. Clarissa, in a comment to the next-to-last post, says she uses the culture of complaint about "how hard research" is to motivate herself to do more research! An unusual response by highly effective. In my first job, I used the fact that some of my colleagues didn't think I was very good to spur myself on to greater things. I was going to prove the assholes wrong in spectacular fashion, and I did. I know it's hard to believe, but not everyone has always worshipped my superior intelligence or praised me lavishly. It's a good thing too.

So your anti-fuel can be your fuel too.


Professor Zero said...

Anti-fuel used to be some untruths I learned from bad psychotherapy.
Antidote: unlearn; this took a long time.

In another era, an incredibly draining and negative work environment, in a place with no outside to it (for example no other neighborhood to go to for a change of air, unless one actually went out of town). Antidote: regime change.

Now, it's the incredibly unstable financial situation of the university and the consequent precariousness of everything. Antidote seems to be activity around finances and mobility, increase feelings of autonomy and peace of mind.

AHA. Feelings of autonomy and peace of mind. Creating enough of these to be able to have a clear mind and think straight is where half my designated research time goes (at least), and has gone in *all three of these eras.* That is why I want to conserve and expand these generally, 24-7, so as not to have to keep rebuilding.

Professor Zero said...

Oh, yes: the nagging idea that, although you should produce things, it should not take time, because all visible time should be spent helping others, not on your own work. Hence, I am to be found staying home and up all Saturday night to read!!! When I am invisible and cannot be caught!!!

Where this comes from *in part*: all the discussion of time, saving time, making use of time. Antidote: it does take time, and some of that time will not have an immediately visible product -- the result of some of it will just be that you know more, or have discovered some lines of reasoning that do not work, or something like that.

(This is one of the other things I *used to know* -- the things even elementary school students know, I think.)