Tuesday, October 31, 2006

halloween novelties

A magical thing about this world is that you can type a sentence and feel some certainty as you are doing it that no one in the history of the world has ever before typed exactly the sentence that you are typing. Especially if, like me, you are prone to long sentences, which had I stopped at the comma would have been a sentence that had probably been typed or said sometime but now once again I am off into a sentential terra incognita. Strange things come into your head when you are working at 3:07am, which seems improbable enough also to have never been previously typed, especially when I add the preceding clause and the fact that I am typing it on Halloween 2006. (Happy Halloween! Nothing new in that.)

I was thinking about this because I was here in my office writing away and had a thought about what I'm working on that I realized was probably something that no one had ever really thought before. Nothing particularly profound, nor even necessarily correct (I'll need to think about it more tomorrow). But that the things I was working with were such a motley and intellectual-biography-contingent collection of things that no one else would ever have reason to put them together. Anyway, it's not like I've never thought anything that, to my knowledge, nobody has ever thought before, per se, but my usual conclusion from that is that it's more or less something that has been thought before and I'm just rediscovering it unwittingly or otherwise, with perhaps a new coat of paint particular to whatever issue I'm working on. Like how there are only really like 11 plots of novels, or how I only really have like 17 different funny things to say--total, lifetime--but spring them on people in different guises.

In any case, it's an magical thing about this academic world that you can read an eclectic bunch of things and put yourself in a position where you feel like you are thinking about something that nobody has ever really thought about before; even more that you can reflect and conclude the feeling is probably correct, at least in terms of particulars, rather than delusional. It's like the boy detective gets to feel like he's an explorer, without having to leave his office or risk malaria or scurvy.

That said, I should really leave my office and go to bed. I have been trying a nocturnal gambit while I work on this paper. Still, it's past 3 and I'm still in my office, feeling slaphappy and blogging, both of which are good indicators that it's time to go home.

Update, next day: As I expected, upon further reflection, neither so new nor so clever.

7 comments:

Winston said...

Methinks you may have dismissed "delusional" too quickly, my dear Watson...

rps said...

YES! I *love* this sort of creativity. I think that one of the reasons I so enjoy studying science is that it increases the probabiity of novelty when one is focused on new modes of knowledge production, new technologies, etc. If the answers are already known, if someone else has said it all before, heck, if you've said it all before, why not do something else, right? That said, there are certainly lots of academics who specialize in the reproduction/recycling of their own ideas. So, I'm glad to be reminded that there are also boy (and girl) detectives out there, making new things happen in fields of knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Yep, sparking off new thoughts all the time. Now the trick is to convey them in a way that sparks others. No mean trick (or treat).

dorotha said...
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Anonymous said...

This is reminiscent of Natalie Portman's character in Garden State who stands in a special spot in her bedroom and does something silly and then revels in the fact that no-one has ever done that in the history of the universe.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy, truly -- like a speck of sand -- you are unique. Peace.

jeremy said...

Even when ideas don't seem so good the next day, the boy detective will not apologize for being enthusiastic about things he is thinking about.