Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What’s up Doc?

I have received the official letter from the University of Bedfordshire telling me I have been awarded my PhD. I guess I ought to be in an ecstatic, celebratory mood. However, far from dancing in the aisles as Dr Feelgood I find myself somewhat closer to Dr Strangelove. If I am absolutely honest, it has all gone a bit armageddon in my head at present.

This is not to say that I did not enjoy some of the experience. There were certainly some high moments. Papers that went well, chance meetings with like-minded poets and artists, the unlooked for gifts of help and advice from friends and colleagues, and the opportunity to be involved in my small way in the great digital revolution (I think of myself as being like one of that flock of sheep who looked on as the small lambs were taken off to see the baby Jesus). However, it has taken a toll; on me and on the many people who have helped me get to this place in time.

Five years is a long time to be doing anything (I wrote my first preliminary notes for my first project a few days before 9/11). It is definitely too long to be doing a PhD. Worst still, it feels like I have been riding a merry-go-round for most of that time (a fun experience to start with and then an unwarranted blur). This was partly due to the fact that I picked a remarkably exciting time to studying computer-mediated textual art. Each week brought a new book to read; a new work to engage with; a new technology; a new subject area. However, it was also because of a number of unplanned changes in my institution, department and supervision team. These changes had the positive effect of introducing me to many new perspectives, introducing a lot of serendipity into my thinking. The final team of Dr Adrian Page (from London Met), Prof Garry Whannel and Prof Alexis Weedon proved to be a winning formula. However, these constant shiftings also required me to adjust my thinking mid-thought, to hold my creative urges dammed-up for years at a time, to find funds and employment in all sorts of strange and exciting places and to justify, justify, justify myself (to myself more than to anyone else) …and that dear reader can be very wearing. It required me to work more analytically and more methodically than I thought possible.

I guess, in the end, doing a PhD proved to be the ultimate experience of betwixt and between. I really am neither here nor there at present. I am hoping that some time in the future that I will arrive at a sense of feeling pleased (proud/bearably pompous) to hold such an esteemed qualification. However, just at the moment I am glad that it has finally stopped.



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