Wednesday, May 09, 2012

show's over, folks: it's time for a new act.

i feel like i've gone on a kind of speaking tour, across various cities in finland:
jyväskylä and espoo in october,
lappeenranta and helsinki in january,
espoo again in february,
helsinki again, this month; also turku. [1]
it's a fine thing to travel within finland, because the train becomes a viable option.  on a related note, i'm starting to hate airplanes.

it was a good april, which i spent not traveling.  i worked steadily, went back to reading, and became frustrated with new ideas.  strange as it sounds, i think that's fine .. maybe even the way it should be, for a mathematician. [2]

having gone back "on the road" this and last week, i've realised something: it's not just the traveling.  there was and is an additional, wearying aspect that's interwoven into these trips.

it's not been so many times, but i've nonetheless lost count of how many times i've given this particular talk about measurablε differentιable structures.  it's in my head now and i can deliver it well .. maybe a little too well.
today i realised that it would take another half-hour to fully explain some details, so on the fly i came up with a new, more succinct sketch of the ideas involved.

in particular, i drew many diagrams and pointed at them a lot.

nobody complained,
but it's not clear to me how much of the audience i lost.
there was a period in my life when i attempted to give every talk only once .. foolish, i know .. but i like to think that my intentions were honest and of the good:

it's similar to my current rule, that i have something new to talk about, every semester: the point is to stay active in research, to keep moving, to keep creating.

There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
~ t.s. eliot

so i think i'm getting complacent.

i still like the ideas in the paper i wrote, but giving the related talk poses no real challenge anymore.  i don't get as excited about presenting the details again, and that isn't very fair to the audience.
if i can't get as excited as before, as i would like,
then how can i expect an audience to be interested in what i have to say?
it doesn't seem honest, not anymore .. which is why i'm shelving this talk from now on.  so unless a colleague invites me and explicitly requests this talk, i plan to never give it again.

it was a good, long run and i think my audiences enjoyed it well enough.  like a good comedian, though, it's only right that i come up with new material .. (-:
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

[1] 10 talks in 8 months, accounting for madrid and the united states, too. everyone tells me that i'm young and that i should travel a lot when i can .. but ye gods: it's exhausting.

[2] frustrated is probably the wrong word, here.  what i mean is: just as a writer is one who writes, edits, and rewrites, a mathematician should ponder, innovate, polish, and write.  

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