Thesis Re-Visited

[It’s] a popular notion, that it is exclusively suffering that produces good work, or insightful work.  I don’t think that’s the case. I think in a certain sense, it’s  a trigger, or a lever. But I think good work is produced in spite of suffering, and as a response, as a victory over suffering.

Leonard Cohen

I had the idea to read through my thesis, and post excerpts on my blog; I may still do that.  As always, I hesitate; I think that some of this work is of high quality, but I wonder how it will be received. I talked about my thesis and agonized over it for so long, that I’m not sure anything I could have created would have been worth the fuss I made about it. Then again, the only arbriter that really matters at the end of the day – my supervisor – gave me an A- on it. So I’m not really sure what I’m worried about in that regard. I suppose putting one’s work out there will always feel like an act of incredible vulnerability.

Reading my thesis in preparation for posting it reminds me of how far removed I am from the academic world; I admit that this reminder is somewhat disheartening. I’d have to read and study for months before I would become as well-versed in the theoretical language and literature as I was when I wrote the thesis. Furthermore, I don’t see myself having the opportunity to write something like that and become immersed in the acts of learning and creation anytime soon; I may not have an opportunity like that ever again.  I suppose my hesitation to post my thesis is borne from that sentiment as well, which isn’t exactly regret; I’ve just become aware that there’s a gap between where I am, and where I want to be, and I’d rather not think about it.  At the present time though, I’m a still a little too weary from the struggle to get through school to knit that yarn into motivation to go back.

Although there are ideas and passages in this piece that I wish I could have developed further, in some ways, that doesn’t really matter; what matters most to me about this work is that I finished it at all. I wrote it during a tumultuous time in my life, during which I was suffering from clinical depression and anxiety disorders. Hence, the Leonard Cohen quote above: this work is important to me for its merits as a piece of undergraduate-level scholarship, and because I see the completion of this project as a “victory over suffering.” I may always struggle with my mind, but this serves as a reminder that I can still (with a hell of a lot of effort, time, and support) complete the work I set out to do.

That’s what I’ll remember this piece for; this piece, with all of its glorious imperfection. Maybe one day I’ll regard the time of my life during which I wrote it as being “gloriously imperfect” as well.

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After thinking and writing about it, I’ve decided to post excerpts from my thesis after all. These can be found on the following pages:

Dance Macabre: Women’s Experiences in Burlesque Excerpt 1 (Introductory Chapter)

Dance Macabre: Women’s Experiences in Burlesque  Excerpt 2 (Research Methods Chapter)

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Note To Self

Today I learned that if I allow myself to do the “fun”/”unproductive” activities that I actually want to do (in this case, it was writing and drawing), I’m less grumpy about the tasks I have to do in order to keep my life from falling apart (eg. maintaining my student loan).  Neat.  I can work with this.

Now what?

So the confluence  of a number of factors has created a something of a gap in my life. The factors are as follows:

Due to being sick when I had otherwise planned to update my resume and apply for a full-time job at my workplace, I missed out on that particular opportunity (I have reason to believe that I would have been in the running for the position, had I applied for it).  Although I can likely make enough money working casually to pay my rent and meet my basic needs, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll earn enough money any time soon to do that and save up the tuition I need for my remaining classes.  Consequently, I seem to have a bit of time on my hands, and I won’t be filling that time up with academic work in the foreseeable future.

So, given that:

  • I’m not working full-time
  • I seem to be able to keep the bills paid at the moment, so I don’t need to go looking for another part-time job (not yet, anyways)
  • I won’t have academic work to worry about (for the first time in too many years),
  • …and there’s a really good chance that even the cat would appreciate it if I got a life, or a hobby, or both, so she could watch the traffic outside in peace

I’ve started to consider the idea that now might be as good of a time as any to develop my “hobbies”.  I’m even entertaining the wild thought of getting into my “arts” (dancing, music, creative writing, visual arts, photography, and experimental programming) and/or teaching yoga more seriously. No shit!
I’m also kind of hoping that when I explore any of the aforementioned options, I might even stumble upon a vocation that makes me happier than academia evidently did (indulging my intellectual ambitions while simultaneously reaching the limits of my sanity and living like a pauper wasn’t nearly as fun – or fulfilling – as comic books and movies made it seem; it turns out Maslow and Marx might have been onto something, while Plato gave me false hope).

So it turns out that when I grow up, I want to be an artist/yoga teacher. I get the last laugh, government/society; you’re never getting your money/investment back, nor will I ever be a role-model for poor kids everywhere that you can “beat the system” while working within it (although I’ll be damned if I don’t teach the economically/socially disadvantaged kids – many of whom also have psychological problems and struggle with addictions – with whom I work in my day job  everything I know about how to survive in it, as a person in the margins).

Once a jaded punk, always a jaded punk, it seems.