Friday, February 06, 2009


this past week has felt like damage control for the upcoming midterm exams. sometimes i wonder what teaching would be like without an exam, every month or so. without grades?

i feel like i haven't had a good research idea in a while, that nothing's been working.

maybe i'm not spending enough (uninterrupted) time thinking about the situation. maybe i'm not looking at the right problems. maybe i haven't read enough and i'm making my life all the more difficult by unsuccessfully "reinventing the wheel."

(admittedly, too often i feel like i don't know enough.)

last night i asked myself how i managed to do enough research to write a thesis -- a rhetorical question, of course -- but the answer is something like this:

i spent months and years collecting little lemmas i proved,
then, one night, i get this one idea;

in the ensuing months i reworked it,
rebuilt it, polished it,
wrote pages and pages explaining it,
and in the end, a thesis came out of it.

that causes two reactions in me.

  1. crap. do i have to wait for inspiration?
    was that one good idea really luck? i can't count on luck!

  2. the lemmas did come in handy;
    the day to day work does have its payoff,
    so it does count for something.

i suppose it is like anything else in life: good news and bad news, at the same time.

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