If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance …

by clasqm

Hi peeps, long time no blog.

I now have a first draft of my conclusion. Yes, I think I’ve managed to show that there is a context, a way of looking at things, in which online ordination actually makes sense.

No, it didn’t take the last two weeks. I’ve had a birthday, and all sorts of distractions. Just because you are on sabbatical does not mean that the university isn’t constantly trying to draw you back in. Tomorrow  am going in for a Performance Management meeting, and there are Honours exams to mark.There are recurriculation meetings I simply cannot miss – their results will be with me for the next ten years.

Next sabbatical, I will concoct a yearlong research project in the Gobi desert. Though it wouldn’t surprise me if Unisa told me to take a sat-phone along. Mars. They won’t be able to get hold of me on Mars.

But I’ve always had this thing where I stare vacantly into space for three days, then when I actually start writing, the argument just flows out of my fingertips. Just lucky that way, I guess. And all through the distractions, my conclusion has been bubbling away in my unconscious. When I finally sat down, the screen and keyboard formed their usual feedback loop with my eyes, bypassing the brain entirely. I looked up two hours later and there was a conclusion on the screen. Don’t ask me how it got there.  In Japanese archery they say “it shoots”, “it” being the totality of archer, bow, arrow and target. Well, “it writes”.

Now I’m going back. I go to the body of my article and start introducing little forward-looking clues, rhetorical flourishes that will prepare the reader for my bold and forthright conclusion. By the time you, dear reader, get there, you must already be in the frame of mind that will have you wildly nodding in agreement as I display my exegetical brilliance. Or at least not having a deep belly laugh at my expense. The last thing I will do is rewrite my Introduction and Abstract (I am famously bad at writing abstracts, but that is a story for another day).

Does this mean that I am prioritising style over substance? Truth is, I’ve never been able to separate those two successfully. How something is presented will always affect my perception of what it is. What something is will alway affect the way I will show it to you. Smarter people than I may be able to strip these away from each other. I don’t even try. I am a researcher, but also a writer. I have a voice.

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My trusty 2010-model iMac is starting to show symptoms of Cybernetic Alzheimer’s, though.  The screen flickers from time to time, occasionally it reboots for no reason whatsoever … time  for one of those lovely new wafer-thin models. Damn, there goes my performance bonus.