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May 21, 2008


Bill Thompson

Ah, Will, you can only embrace the idea of abandonment - and indeed, will only be able to benefit from it - because of the cruel way you were treated at the fine university we both know so well. It's the point of the place - to push you to the edge (and abandon you with a shrug if you fall).

Once you've been forged in the fire of the supervisory encounter and quenched in the slightly oxidised sherry of a meeting with your morals tutor you're a changed person. No wonder you feel mollycoddled and suffocated by the support structures thrown up in a university more concerned with RAE than the prospects for the college rugby team...

Will Davies

Well, if it's merely a choice between kitsch conservatism (often quite anti-intellectual) and auditted communitarianism, I'll take the latter any day. It's just a shame that the latter can't occasionally have some sort of 'bungy jumping' moments, where every now and then, for a time limited period, the individual student is all alone and falling through space...


In my personal experience, as a student at cambridge and as a freelance writer later on, those moments of 'bungy jumping' were actually much less productive then those moments where I felt I was working with people, or at least alongside. Often working with people wanted me to run off and do work by myself. But that was better then when I was working by myself for long chunks as then I'd just slouch off and do precious little by myself. You're clearly not like that, but I'd posit that most people are, including people like me who were convinced that we weren't. Personally abandoned on my own I collapse. Abandoned with a few others, I come up with ideas.


There is a paper titled "Embodiment, Academics, and the Audit Culture" that you and your former companions might find funny. Here is a quote:

"The last email he sent out that day was to all the staff asking them to fix a time so that he could give them individual feedback on their publications from the Research Output Meeting. He ended the email with the following statement: ‘Please note, despite what many might have you believe, you are not your CV. You are so much more than your CV.’ Jim hit the send button. Then, absentmindedly, he took out his favourite fountain pen, found a clean sheet of paper and began to write, ‘I am not my CV. I am so much more than my CV.’ ... "

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