Saturday, August 07, 2004

in other weblogs

Belated supportive shout-out from JFW to proc freak, who is scrambling toward the finish of her dissertation. One of the comments to her anguished post, from an anonymous party (you? who knows?), was a paraphrase of the old saw that "The best dissertation is a done dissertation." I'm sure, of course, the anonymous commenter had only the best intentions.

But, still: back when I was struggling to complete my own dissertation--and, oy, did I struggle--there was this affable-avuncular guy who was frequent witness my tortured progress and would say, inevitably, with the kind of perfectly predictable timing that would have made him famous if he were a geyser, "The best dissertation is a done dissertation." Readers who know me know that I am about as non-violent as men get outside various Amish-ish or lama-like spiritual persuasions. And yet, it became such that, each time this guy would say it, I wanted to rip his [expletive deleted] head off. Like to where I would contemplate if it could be more easily/painfully accomplished by grabbing his head with my right hand and his body with my left, or vice versa. This guy has no idea how close to death he came.

I think the phrase probably was helpful the first time I heard it, whenever that was. I mean, it's good to be told that you can't let perfectionism get in the way of completion. However, as I was closing in, no one was more eager to see the thing done than I was, and perfectionism had long since yielded to goodism, then to adequatism, and then to atleastnotrepugnantism. By this point, I could not have been more thoroughly aware that the best dissertation was a done dissertation, just like I was thoroughly aware that my dissertation was not yet done. Instead, the only way it was going to get done was not by telling myself that the-best-D-is-a-done-D, but rather the only way (honest) dissertations ever get done: butt in chair, hands on keyboard, words on paper, one hour after another, one day and then the next.

At the time, I vowed that I would never, ever tell someone working on their dissertation that "the best dissertation was a done dissertation," unless I had taken stock of the situation and thought there was actually reason to believe it possible that they have never heard this before and could benefit from it. And, yes, I have so far stuck to this vow, and without invoking the weaselly and presumably-actually-unnecessary "unless" clause.

Anyway, proc-freak-ph.d.-elect, whoever you are, you have the official JFW best wishes for a speedy and sanity-preserving sprint to the finish line.

BTW: proc freak has also weighed in on the raging debate regarding what going to Boston College Law School says about one's general cognitive capacities, offering the perspective of a proud BC alum.

1 comment:

procfreak said...

thanks for the pat on the head!