Sunday, August 19, 2012

I spent a summer wasting

Well, that felt unproductive. I think I never get as much done as I think I will during the summer, but this one was worse in that respect than usual. Going on vacation didn't help, nor did losing power for a week. Then there's been the distraction of committee work connected to redesigning the English major at VMI, and the extra yard work that comes from an unusually rainy and hot summer. It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under, as someone once said. And then there's the fact that I might have June and July off (when I'm not being called in for committee meetings) but so do my kids. Read a couple of books more slowly than you need to, tell yourself that blogging is work, and before you know it all those weeks have gone, with little to show for it. But the kids go back to school tomorrow, so normal life might return if the committee work ever slows down to normal levels. Then I might actually have something to say about philosophy.

All of which sounds much too moany. (Poor me, I own property! Poor me, I have children! Poor me, I'm lazy!) I just need to be more realistic about the goals I set myself in the summer. Probably my best summer for research was when I had almost no expectations at all because I had a baby daughter to look after. Apart from gathering materials from libraries while she sat quietly eating Goldfish, i.e. not for more than a few minutes at a time, the only time I could work was during her nap. That meant three hours a day at most, usually only about one hour, and sometimes no time at all. But I made sure I used every minute of the time I had to catch up on Wittgenstein scholarship from the previous five years or so, which led  to my working up some old material and adding some new material to it to produce Wittgenstein at His Word. Knowing you have precious little time can be helpful. The illusion of having more time is a dangerous thing.

Neil Young said that a man needs a maid, but really a philosopher needs a maid, and a gardener, and a babysitter. Except that I can't help feeling that one should do these things oneself. Or at least the babysitting part. Be a philosopher, but amid all your philosophy be still a dad (or mum/mom). Or something like that. Of course everyone's circumstances are different, and my feelings-based priorities might be all wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment