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Late at night, sitting by a desk piled high with books, and books all around me that I’ll never ever get to finish reading

February 23, 2010
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I look at those books and think, gosh, how the heck did I manage to amass that many books? I didn’t really start buying books in a big way until after college. I guess doing an MA in English got me into that book-owning mode. This of course was exacerbated when I graduated and no longer had access to the best library I could find in the country. Of course, trips abroad always bring back new treasures. I’ve sold quite a lot of the books I’ve amassed since high school when i had to make the move to thousands of miles away from there I’ve lived for decades, but there are still enough left to start a public library. I shipped abroad with me some of the best of my collection. And I am still waiting for two more boxes of shipment to come in, hopefully really soon. One day, I’ll take a picture of some of the books that meant the most to me and talk about them. After all, so many iminent writers always talk about their books, their act of reading those books and what that means to them. Books are my most faithful companions, more faithful than any relationships I’ve ever had in life, save for that of my family. I am happy now that I finally have time to explore, cherish and feel them with less distraction, one at a time, even while also having also to read books I do not already have (courtesy of the classes I’m taking). Not to mention access to some of the best libraries in the world. Books recommended by others, books I discovered along the way.

And I am reading stuff that others are doing that I will be doing too, though not replicating what they did. It is interesting when others are interested in the same objects of study, exploring the very many possibility of inquiry, each informed by their own disciplinary interests and methods. I guess the question I’ll ask myself is, how many kinds of methods would I need to know before I could successfully pursue my research? How widely and vastly must I read outside of my field before I get too distracted? What is the object of a dissertation, what sort of scholarly (as oppose to academic) contribution do I wish to make? What is the reason of my choosing to leave all to come here? Inspite of the growing cynicism surrounding the life of a mind, even from within the very folds of academia, especially as professionalization is pursued with relentless vengeance, how can one build a research that is fulfilling rather that burdensome?

These are the questions in my mind as I sit here, on this spartan desk cluttered with books, residues of my food next to me, and an uncovered highlighter lying in wait to continue its task.

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