Saturday, February 17, 2007

Non-trivial pursuit

Have you ever thought about the phrase 'pursuing a degree'. As in "Harry Wainwright is currently pursuing a degree in Diacritical Uncertainty from the University of That Little Bit of Florida That Doesn't Look Like your Appendix".

Isn't it a wonderful way of putting it?

What form does this pursuit take, one wonders. Is it a hot-footed chase after a delinquent qualification, complete with screeching tyres and pistol shots gone wild? "Calling all cars, calling all cars. Suspected PhD currently heading down Route 83 between Oaktown and Ashburg. Degree may be armed and dangerous. Pursue with caution." or "Quick driver! follow that dissertation!"

Or is it a more metaphorical pursuit - something out of Browning - a degree to be wooed and won over? Does one show up at the beloved qualification's door bearing bouquets of ideas, does one stand under its window on a moonlit night, singing citations till dawn?

Or perhaps it's a more zoological thing. The PhD not a malevolent or demanding intelligence, but a thing of nature, arbitrary, fickle. Must one wander through forests of regression, net in hand, seeking the butterflies of statistical significance? Must one sit crouched in a machaan over the dead horse of one's thesis topic, waiting for a contribution to emerge?

And is it really we who are pursuing the degree? Is it not the other way round? Are we not, Acteon-like, hunted by course requirements, hounded by time tables, laid low by committee? Who is the predator here, who the prey? Are we really the wolf that follows, and the degree the fawn that flies [1]?

Ah, the chasms that yawn beneath the most ordinary phrase.

(exits, pursued by a PhD)

[1] Bonus points for knowing where that particular gem comes from.

7 comments:

Just Mohit said...

Don't tell me you saw a performance of "Atalanta in Calydon" ;-)
BTW, dissertation nearing completion one hopes!

Heh Heh said...

Must one sit crouched in a machaan over the dead horse of one's thesis topic, waiting for a contribution to emerge?

Apparently it works.

Aurita said...

Beautiful. Whimsy indeed. thank you!

Revealed said...

And time remembered is grief forgotten? :)

Patrix said...

Couldn't have put it better.

"Quick driver! follow that dissertation!" Unfortunately, it is pulling away but hope to lasso it in sometime soon :)

Perspective Inc. said...

Brilliant.. lol!
Pursuit as in chase is on..??!!!

Anonymous said...

and then you lasso it with the wai-wai noodles?

n!