Monday, 29 January 2018

PhD Antidote - what's your athelas?

Kanuka? or Athelas (Kingsfoil)
A recent post from a guest writer on the Thesis Whisperer caught my attention. Genevieve Simpson used the Gilmore Girls Netflix specials as an analogy to her PhD: the glowing spring of potential - the original 7 seasons - fast-forwarded to a disappointment with how it all turns out in autumn rather differently to what was 'promised' - the Netflix, ten-years-on thing.

Expectations may differ from reality in all walks of life :-)

I have never watched the Gilmore Girls, so following reading the post, I pootled off to YouTube and watched a few short clips, but it seemed pretty empty and air-headed. From that, I guessed I was not the target demographic. I did however, then watch a clip at from a guy's perspective which roundly enlightened me. The show seemed indeed empty and air-headed. No need to waste more time here.

However, what really interested me about Genevieve's post on Thesis Whisperer was the need for an empty and airheaded thing. I think this is a necessary antidote - an Athelas (Tolkien, 1954) - for the full-on, thoughtful and focused nature of PhD writing. Genevieve reminded me that I need to schedule in my own athelas to repair my 'wounds'; to recover. 

And on reflection, I think that my athelas is a listening fix of murder mysteries & espionage thrillers: Jo Nesbo, Felix Francis, Daniel Silva, Ruth Rendell, Georges Simenon, Louise Penny, Adrian McKinty, Chris Brookmyre, Aline Templeton. I seem to remember a great fondness for Shortland Street - taped, to watch as a reward at the close of day - while doing my undergraduate degree.

My mechanism is different to Genevieve's, but the outcome will be - I hope - the same: providing a counter-foil - Kings Foil - so that balance is kept until the PhD process is complete.



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