Why you should not undertake Doctoral studies

Prologue by the Artist
I would have thought that J, an avid reader of my blog, would know that articles here are short. She went off and wrote a whole bunch of (insert a swear word) that I doubt anyone will have the patience to read. But, I have a rule about not editing work from my guest writers', so there it is exactly as she wrote it. 

J consoles me because she is way worse off than I am. 

J's Woes
From my humble opinion,  nope, I had to cut that, from my esteemed point of view; again cut; from (blank); really I still have not figured out why L asked me to write something about my doctorate.( A word used to signify the complexity and intrigues of the study to make it sound exclusive.) Yet I have absolutely nothing to say! Either positive or negative; as this is one thing, that I am most  indifferent to, yet everyone around me seems so excited that a girl from their land is pursuing  difficult studies in a foreign land with a very difficult language albeit closer to my native tongue in phonetics.

The Mistake
Some of these – I prefer to use a generous term; ‘supporters’ for lack of a more derogatory word, and this being a year that we have just been to the ballots. These supports call me ‘doctor’ I wonder doctor of who or what? Ignorance at its highest display. Anyway can I live up to the name? I don’t know! All I know at the moment is that a stupid voice inside my head (I normally hear voices; I hope that sounds normal to you; if you don’t hear voices inside your head, go get checked; you must be insane.) commanded and convinced me to do a phD; and a more stupid/sillier action on my part was that I listened!

Not only did I listen; but I went ahead and looked for a promoter who is a happy go lucky man; who has never even looked at my proposal, even though I have sent the different updated versions more than 10 times. Yet this guy has a name; many people prefix his name with the word prof before – both in speech and written form.

My dream
I guess I thought  that my studies would entail  (i) carrying a camera around- those ones with many detachable parts, with long black zooms and lenses for every panoramic short and light, the ones which are damn expensive and every accomplished tourist carries to the Mara. (ii)taking a plane to a distant land with my only possession being a dirty overstuffed ruck sack  (iii) A pair of hiking shoes and a never ending supply of scholarship money tagged ‘to  be used only for euro tour’. And for good measure I thought I would need to throw in a guide book or two plus a map. Or better still a recorded guide tape which tells me and shows on the little screen all the monumental attractions of the 8th-16th century – how medieval!. Then my task was just to take photos of them or of me posing in front of them and them acting as a background for a well earned postcard that will be sold in the stands of an African Maasai Market. Afterwards I needed to take a few extra minutes to post them on my facebook page/ instagram or picasa so as to sound more serious. ( I really want fame; hence the need of my photos being online.) actually I would join the ‘been to’ group of my friends who have photos of all the places they have visited besides Nakuru.

In fact when planning and thinking of this euro tour, I had some words ringing in my mind (the voices again); Baruch/ impressionist/Romantic/Gothic/ Enlightenment. I thought that from henceforth my conversations will be couloured and punctuated with such words. I would speak with authority and drop one or two in the middle of a not so harmless conversation over a cup of KENYAN KETEPA TEA NOT LIPTON!  And make it sound so natural without any effort.

By the way, all my colleagues seem to have toured the whole world, coz as we walk towards the next studio or over lunch, they always have to say “ When I was in Belgium… Singapore… UK… the list is endless.” And they sentence you to a one hour unwelcome  lecture  about a stature with miniscule dimensions. If it is big maybe 0.2m2 * 0.2m2  * 0.2m2 in dimensions; they give you a whole description, inscription and any other ‘cription’ (very boring). The only response on your part is  to look awed with your jaws very wide open and an occasional mmh , ahh, ok. Which unfortunately encourages them to continue.

Imagine I thought that is what a phD was all about; it was a very simple formular- travel the world, sound a little bit knowledgeable and engage in abstract conversations which an ordinary patient mortal would get bored in the second paragraph and then join a group of profs and docs who talk only of their next publication and conference and the prefix Dr. automatically comes in front of your name without too much sweat.  No one had told me of the term hegemony and the other complicated sounding words. In short it takes one fool to listen to another foolish voice inside the head to do a phD.

The supporters  again – I wasn’t quite done with them before…
Of these supporters of mine, I get very jazzed, because they seem to know my phD content more than I do. They explain to anyone and everyone who cares to listen (or otherwise), in intricate detail about my study site, my dissertation, the background and sometimes even the conceptual framework. I wish they could explain it to me; it would make my life easier or better still explain it to my promoter who will be very proud of me on this accomplishment, that someone else besides me understands what I am doing.

And now to the famous question: ‘So doctor, when are you finishing your phD?” Arggggh.. the answer is the same one I gave you last month… and nothing has changed so far. Not even have I added a comma to my writing!  When it changes I will let you know. These supporters/fans of mine seem to have selective amnesia, because they seem to have one resounding question every time you meet them, but unfortunately you meet them on a cycle of every 30 days, and they see it fit to ask you very uncomfortable questions about this doctorate, as they think that you really should have finished by now since the last time they met you. I wish they could wear my shoes for a single moment. Nowadays I have learnt the antidote; after the pleasantries of greetings and introductions I usually add ‘ Let me ask the question before you do…. Utamaliza  lini? And I go on to answer it: ntamaliza 2020.’ So of late I have fewer compromising questions from my fans. I wish they could all read these and just know; that is a question I hate being asked by one who is not a scholar, because I will explain and they will not understand or better still they will label me as ‘lazy’; they judge me by their own standards and not by mine……

My other life
Sometimes, like today, I wake up really early to sit in front of my computer (my best friend), to pretend that I am so busy and need not be disturbed because I am reading Lefbre, Le cobussier and other authors of the 18th century, since my work has to be grounded on philosophical principles. After all my promoter reminded me last week on Wednesday at 3:13 p.m. that I am doing a doctor of philosophy…and my work cannot be based on my own theories, it has to be anchored and supported by concepts, theories, philosophies… and any other crazy thing like that….

So why I like this presence is because I am not actually reading… I am facebooking and reading snippets, which makes me sane, to know that other doctorands also go to facebook and use the net for not so academic purposes… In other words it affirms to me that I am normal; I am that species that needs a diversion most of the time and the phD to be worked on, on the remaining time. So I really need to squeeze and  find time for my doctorate coz it takes up the time I should be on facebook.
  
Ok .. really why are you reading this? And why am I writing?

My promoter always says that academic writing has to have headings…. And punctuation marks.. hence all the above…

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