It’s that time again when the masters thesis rears it’s queer face on this blog. A couple of days ago I managed to complete the final draft, which is essentially what it will be, albeit with some editing and revisions courtesy of my supervisory panel. An anticipated catharsis came over me as copies of the tome were spooled out and subsequently punched with spiral holes – a process I seemed to enjoy with a little too much enthusiasm. Now I can sit back for a few days, whilst my supervisors have a read of it and offer up their thoughts on the overall product.
How do I feel about it? Aside from the relief of finally getting to this stage (a process that has taken far too long for a variety of reasons), I’m feeling a bit conflicted about it all – on the one hand I’m happy the end is in sight at last and I can move on with things, whilst at the same time there’s a profound sense of unease and dissatisfaction with the whole endeavor. First of all, it should have been finished in 2007. If that had been the case a lot more people would be happier about the project, and my relationship with the University would certainly be a lot more amiable. It didn’t turn out this way – things went wrong early on followed by a series of personal and professional calamities that nearly threw everything off the rails. In 2007, things corrected themselves but things continued to get in the way and the project lurched along for another couple of years. It’s kind of like I dropped a conceptual anchor and bobbed about for four years gathering the flotsam and jetsam with the occasional bite.
Secondly, I’m not convinced the outcome has been as enriching as I’d first envisioned – was it really worth it? Could the process of learning and researching been more enlightening had I not been attached to a degree or a University? Sure it’s all hypothetical, but I’m seriously questioning how beneficial the degree and an affiliation with the University was in terms of gaining an insight into the research topic, since major insights were gained through extracurricular activities that had little or nothing to do with the University. A degree certainly applies a ‘template’ to any line of research and activities, conditioning and disciplining the findings into something that fits a set format. Which is a great thing, I’m not knocking the merits of post-graduate research via degrees and Universities, I just think to myself whether things would have been much better (personally and professionally) had I done it all on my own terms. What do mean by ‘my own terms’? It would mean no thesis for starters, though certainly a lot more artwork/product and in the place of a thesis, a lot more papers and attendances at conferences and events. I could even argue I might be a better artist, a better writer, etc. Though I might be running the risk of overstepping myself here. Like I said before, this point is hypothetical and daydreaming at best.
Let me say though, I do not blame anybody else but myself for the way things have gone – I’ve certainly (and somewhat unfairly) blamed the University for the many crises that have affected this project, mainly financial and professional issues that have arisen. I’m wholly responsible for the situation and I could have left the project at any time to pursue my interests from another vantage. I did actually go on hiatus for a few months towards the end of ’06 to gather my thoughts, though it didn’t really work out for the best. As much as I derided the project at times, something kept willing me back as I felt a bit lost and unable to apply myself without the ‘template’ of the degree and the University.
Aha! I just (sort of) contradicted myself didn’t I? Maybe the outcome of all of this wouldn’t have been as fulfilling had I gone it alone – I might very well have ambled away on the dole, eschewing my arts practice and weighing up prospective offers of a career as a rent boy or (G*d forbid) an accountant or something.
My feelings about it all are probably best summed up by what you, dear reader, have just trawled through – a need to vent and rant.
Hypotheticals aside; I believe I’m a much better person having gone through all of this. It’s taught me to commit better to things, persevere and overcome issues in a much more considered and ethical fashion. When it’s finalised and dispatched, the dust will settle and I’m sure my feelings towards the whole endeavor will be much more favourable and the inclination to vent and rant will most definitely diminish over time. Though I’m sure there will still be plenty of things aside from this project to rave about.