Thursday, 14 March 2013


Alright, so this one is a little left of centre. After class today, I had coffee (decaf - I'm off caffeine) with a friend who was quitting smoking. I've only recently quit so and I was discussing quitting with a couple of the lads in class today (Ben, who quit earlier this year, and Steven, who was chewing on some nicotine gum as we spoke) and I forgot to tell my friend about our discussion.

Why did I forget that? It was only two hours before and it was directly relevant.

It was because we had a very stimulating class. Over our coffees, we discussed what we'd done in the day. My companion is a final year chemical engineer and, having studied chemistry at university level in a previous life, I found her input intriguing, especially about the construction of distillation chambers. She in turn found my rambles about different arts research methodologies and knowledge claims equally fascinating, quizzing me about my ideas for a presentation I'm preparing for Neal's class.

The two of us left with plans for a future meeting, she to return to a graduate employment seminar and myself to see my personal trainer (for the first time ever) - who just happened to be my brother.

At his gym, we went over a series of mobility screens. Liam (my brother) is a big guy, but he doesn't try to 'smash' his clients until their ready for it. Turns out I was the most physically balanced person to enter the gym thus far, so we got straight down to training.

I've never been keen on the gym, but just seeing the library across the back wall inspired me. Healthy mind, healthy body, and my brother is an obvious proponent of that maxim.

After the session we spoke about our days and compared the training and how it relates to learning in general - a teacher gets your measure, starts you off and then starts giving you more to work with, along with more freedom. The ideas filter out at different levels, and knowing how your body, your mind, your distillation chamber works makes for better application of these concepts.

This brought me back exactly to a big discovery in today's class. Adrian was talking about the two 'styles' that present within research papers, and I could only liken it to something that I'm experienced with - juggling.

The average onlooker likes pretty tricks. Most of these tricks are simple to do and to some degree bore the juggler, but that doesn't matter - it's how he entertains his audience. The tricks the juggler likes to do are difficult but far less flashy. The average onlooker is unimpressed but a fellow juggler will stop to watch an artist in motion.

When it comes to writing a paper, the same concept holds. You need to speak to the layman, to engage the 'average onlooker' and not risk alienating a potential new fan. In fact, if you're entertaining and engaging enough, you might create fellow jugglers, new researchers. But it's important not to neglect the seven-ballers, as what you're exploring is based in their tradition and the skills they have passed down to you. If you want to truly pay homage to the greats, you name them, draw from them and in turn create the new, because without them, you wouldn't be innovative at all.

A hugely roundabout way of learning a lesson, but a very important lesson to learn.

Just a juggler distilling his trick bag.

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