This blog began as a writing outlet when I was processing my experiences with academia, why I left, what I’ve encountered outside of the university cloister, the trials and tribulations of my attempts to regain access, and how my ventures with independent scholarship have shaped my goals. Along the way, I’ve addressed learning and pedagogy approaches, touched on religion & spirituality, and politics, noting a few areas of interest along the way.
My writing and research are currently, self-consciously, at a crossroads between New Age metaphysical thought and academic scholarship. My new project, entry pages (a sort of ‘hybrid’ of approaches) combines literature, personal journaling, and tarot reading to reflect on these sometimes contrasting sometimes agreeing influences, neither of which I have completely been able to commit myself. Previously, I was unable to conquer an anxiety that to chose one would be to lose something crucial of the other (something to do with the requirement of belief in one direction and suspension of belief from the other direction). It took stepping away from academia to realize that the writings of Judith Butler–whose work I related to with a sort of approach-avoidance while in school–are actually in line with the metaphysical research that currently occupies my thinking–I’m not prepared to parse my understanding of this yet, and this is not the place. It has to do with the way she asks questions about language and her discussions of the psyche; I’m not sure yet that we’d agree on any answers, but I like the way she questions, which is in line with my questioning of to what degree spirituality and psychology can successfully parallel. I’m only beginning to read her work in-depth (and probably with a somewhat contrasting approach than those who read her from a strictly academic perspective). I’m increasingly conscious that it is rare to find an author who can successfully bridge both discussions, as I experience them, and it isn’t necessarily a matter of a work being branded as ‘spirituality’ or ‘theory’ or ‘religion’ or ‘academic.’ In other ways, those distinctions are as relevant as ever, and I’m becoming increasingly purest about both my approach to literary scholarship and spirituality and getting serious requires relinquishing an element of the experimental, which this blog was intended to express, so it makes sense also to bring this particular process to a close.
I have also expressed the disappointments and sometimes miseries of employment ups and downs in this blog. Not to usher the violins excessivley–I’m really fortunate to have had the opportunities to be involved in a variety of diverse work. Now, I find myself back in education, and if I have been hiding from political controversy somewhat (as discussed in the previous post “Awkward Activism” where I also referenced Butler) grading freshman comp papers requires me to stay current. These fully online classes also allow me to more easily manage some of the health and other issues that I have struggled with in traditional employment, as does freelancing. Working with animals prevents me from staying closed up indoors all day, and I love the three-fold balance of this “solution”–though none of them offers much security in terms of predictability or reliability. The hope is that if one falters, the other two will be sufficient.
The PhD question that constitutes the elephant in the room of this entire conversation will have to remain unanswered. It is increasingly conspicuous in some of my work not to have that degree, and it is increasingly irrelevant in other work whether I have a degree of any sort–sometimes it’s almost a liability. Various complications prevent me from making that decision at this time.
Thank you to those of you who have offered support and encouragement. Perhaps we will meet again in other pursuits.
©Melanie Sophia, 2017