Saturday, 24 March 2007

Having a bit of a think

This week I have undergone two separate job assessments. (The picture on the left is Canterbury Cathedral after dark; I like it because it makes it look like the east end is made of flames.) I didn't get Tuesday's job but it's too soon to tell about yesterday's.

I'm afraid it's just rather putting me off the whole notion of paid employment. (I was going to critique the depressing things about the two experiences here but I imagine most people can fill that in for themselves.) When I think about the people I really respect, a good number of them don't have official academic jobs and would most aptly be described as "independent scholars". To many academics this is a euphemism for something undesirable. However, people of discernment know that, say, Michael Gullick and Nick Orchard are about the most learned people alive on the subject of medieval bindings and twelfth-century script on the one hand and Anglo-Saxon liturgy on the other. I would quite like to be one of those respected people. To know something really well, and to be able to publish it honestly without worrying about RAEs and such, and to be free to work on the details, only saying things about the big picture when there's really something worth saying about it.

The problem is that one looks for two things in a job: a way of spending the majority of your time in which you can achieve stuff and develop your mind; and also a way of getting some money into your bank account. I don't know how to get the two things together, and I'm not exactly unusual in that. Probably letting go of the idea of status would help. Recently I've seen enough middle-aged men behaving like troups of monkeys to put me off the whole status thing, anyway. I could work part-time in a library and live very frugally?

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