Tuesday, November 8

my job = reading and writing

today I interrupt my rambly little list of loosely scheduled things-to-review to talk about a book I just finished yesterday. my advisor recommended it for me, and I tracked down the ebook version and began devouring it a few weeks ago. it's called After Method: Mess in Social Science Research, by John Law. it was published in 2004, when I had just barely decided to be an English major.

Law's book was like beautiful blue, sparkly pools of intriguing untanglings of theory, critiques of standardized method, and invitations to crack open a bunch of dusty academic assumptions. he asks why we presume the world to be so definite in its being, so discoverable. he wants more scholars to wander around outside the usual boxes. to "find ways of knowing the indistinct."

not all the books I get to read strike me quite like this one seems to have struck me. reading this book is part of my job as a graduate student scholar-in-training, but it didn't feel like work yesterday. sinking my brain into this book was adventure. like wandering through a mountain forest as the sun comes up.

here, have some quotes I highlighted with digital yellow highlighter:
"...the world is not a structure, something we can map with our social science charts. We might think of it, instead, as a maelstrom or a tide-rip. Imagine that it is filled with currents, eddies, flows, vortices, unpredictable changes, storms, and with moments of lull and calm."
"The world could always be otherwise. Can we cope with this?"
in Law's opinion, we can cope, and in doing so we'll be better researchers and better humans. imagining and anticipating the many kinds of otherwise is arguably what makes us human. the capacity for conscious change. that seems important.

one more excerpt, from near the end, beautifully validates a belief I have reached for and reached for my whole life, it seems like.
"The answer, of course, is that there is no single answer. There could be no single answer. And, indeed, it is also that the ability to pose the questions is at least as important as any particular answers we might come up with." 
questions and answers are built together, after all. they are each the spaces that the other stretches into, around, across.

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