Wednesday, March the 30th, 2005

For those not tuning in often enough (you bad reader you), you probably need to catch the earlier piece to figure out what’s going on.

Summarizing the earlier exposé, the prospect of coming up with something bleh (technically speaking) has left me mortified.

Backing up a bit here to hopefully give you a better idea of what is going on, the thing that brought most of this uneasiness to the fore is the fact that I’m taking what’s called my “preliminary exam” (prelims) this term. This is something of an overall research plan articulation, where you officially declare your committee and let (these and any other interested) people know what it is you plan to achieve, where you’re at along the way, where you think you will be in a while, and why any of this is a path worthy of exploration. Loosely paraphrased again — let them judge if what you’re suggesting is new, and cool enough.

The problem here, you see, is that I am a lot smarter than most people I know (including you, obviously). The standards I can (and do) set for myself in these intellectual realms are only matched by my lack of standards in any other avenues. They are much stricter than what other people expect of themselves, or have their academic overlords expect of them.

Ego masturbation aside, as a first step toward determining my prelims proposal, I decided to jot down bunch of notes as to where I saw myself going with all of this and circulated it within my immediate academic overlords. The feedback I received, within moments, included among other positive things — “FIENDISHLY AMBITIOUS” and “A KAMIKAZE MISSION”, but always ended with something similar to “… but rightfully so.”

So, obviously, what I claim to be able to achieve is enough. More than being just enough, these people (who’re insane geniuses in themselves), honestly believe what I’m talking about is complicatedly cool.

My problem, you guessed it, is I that don’t see it as particularly cool, or worthy. Unfortunately, by definition, if I was able to think of this in such a short period of time (couple of years), how cool or groundbreaking could it really be?

I reiterate, for those kids at the back not paying any attention — Nothing I say can be “cool enough”, purely because it was something I “just thought” of.

This, ladies and gents, is the root cause of a lot of confusion in my life at the moment. I’m wandering in the dark sort of semi-lost-hope, semi-scared, semi-ego-bruised, semi-<insert anything queasy you want here>, and I don’t really have the fortitude to oft dwell on it here as well.

This is why there haven’t been any substantial updates to the journal recently. This is why the only few posts that do show up are to do with something arbitrary and not real-life pertinent. This is why there hasn’t been a picture posted on delineate for so long.

And I don’t believe any of this is going to change any time soon. Not until I come up with the next grand theory of something or the other that no one else’s dreamed of.

This is a printer-friendly version of the journal entry “Substantial and Original – 2 of 2” from actuality.log. Visit to read the original entry and follow any responses to it.

2 Responses to “Substantial and Original – 2 of 2”

  1. pul| says:

    Yes, I think a wise thing to do would be to reconsider why the “academic overlords” felt your goals were possibly a little overambitious. After all, that’s one of the reasons why advisors are needed, innit?

    This may not be relevant to the case at hand, but this is what Linus had to say when he was asked to give advice for people starting to undertake large open source projects based on his experience with managing the Linux kernel:

    “….You start with a small_trivial_project, and you should never expect it to get large. If you do, you’ll just overdesign and generally think it is more important than it likely is at that stage. Or worse, you might be scared away by the sheer size of the work you envision….”

    Although from your viewpoint I gather the last line is nowhere near your problem ;)

  2. wahgnube says:

    Clearly, that is nowhere near my problem. My problem is, among other things, I’ve set myself up to be (and I quite honestly believe this) much more capable than the average person. Therefore, I have to go all out to keep proving/verifying this, even though I don’t know who it is I’m trying to make the point to.

    I don’t know of a single person who who claims otherwise, after getting to know me a bit.

    It seems to be some sort of personal quest to assert some sort of authority or something, I don’t know. Things would have probably been easier if we were in cave-people times, and the dimensions of my kingdom were purely defined by the coolness of the club I can craft, or something. Real life is different now, staking a claim to a portion of the pie is… complicated.

8,709,015 people conned into wasting their bandwidth.