I feel mentally and emotionally tired right now. Worn out a bit. I’m on campus, which means that I’ve been walking around outside in the heat, so that could be part of the problem. I’m sure it doesn’t help. But even aside from that, sometimes there are aspects of life that don’t seem very fulfilling and yet are very time-consuming and demanding and require a lot of effort. That sucks. I guess I should be grateful. Many people throughout history, and even throughout the world today, don’t have a choice about what life is like. Complaining that everything I do isn’t completely fulfilling and/or easy says something about the spoiled culture I’m a part of, I suppose. Even so, ‘tis my culture, so….
My students just don’t get a lot of what I’m trying to teach them. I’m not teaching an easy class, and it doesn’t help that it’s a condensed summer semester. But really, is it that incomprehensible? Is it me? Do I not know how to convey information in an understandable way? Or are they just dense? Really, I think some of it is that they don’t really put forth an effort to practice and/or read outside of class time. The point is, no matter what the excuse is, it’s a bit irritating and frustrating.
I was talking to a student after class about academic life. He asked about what I’m studying. I told him about the first draft of my dissertation prospectus and how the head of my dissertation committee said that I probably have way too much planned. My proposal outlined a five-chapter project, but I was told that my second chapter alone is probably enough for an entire dissertation. But the problem with philosophy is, anything could be a dissertation! Everything can be discussed and debated down to the tiniest little detail. It's exhausting, in a way. And a bit tedious. I feel like it’s all too common to have an idea in mind and have it in some sense squelched. Some of that goes with the territory—you may think you have an ingenuous idea, but if there’s a big gaping hole in your theory, then sorry, the theory fails. That can be disappointing. But it’s more than that. I feel like people always want you to narrow in or branch out from what you’re interested in. To offer an analogy, I feel like I had an idea for some portrait that I wanted to paint. I told my benefactor about it, and the benefactor says, “But, Ben, there’s enough detail in a single nostril that, really, you could and should just do a painting of a nostril.” Well, I wasn’t excited about getting into all the fine details of a nostril! I wanted to paint a face! And I liked the face I wanted to paint!
Anyway, that’s sort of how it goes. And that’s where my mind is at right now. I think I’m just tired. I actually got the feedback on my dissertation prospectus a week or two ago, and I haven’t felt down in the dumps about it. I sound like it now, but it’s just my mood. Still, I do feel like this accurately describes the way things go. And it’s not fun.