New College

When you upload a post to WordPress, it likes to tell you how many blogs you’ve already posted. How handy, how useful, how nice of the servile, the obsequious machine to provide you with more than you asked for.

But the Machine is not servile, so in its truer guise of dominance it appends an addendum: your next goal. When you have written forty-one posts, your next goal is to write fifty. Churn ‘em out. When you have written ninety-nine, your next goal is one hundred.

My last post was my ninety-ninth. The Machine has given me stage fright.

You ought to get a present (dearest of readers), for this hundredth post. You ought to get balloon and cavalcades, bunting, graffiti, brioche and circuses. Instead, you are getting this. Complaints forms can be picked up by the door and will be filed with our area manager for his collection.

When a batsman scores a hundred runs he raises his bat to the distant blur of fans and imagines himself a leader of legionaries, saluting his emperor, acknowledging his role in a glorious conquest. They even call them Centurions.

When a blogger blogs his hundredth blog he drinks more coffee, worries that he writes about coffee too often, then wonders what he has in his life to report.

Ward Sell, A., 0824872, reporting.

I have begun a degree. Already having a degree, this could reasonably strike you as gluttonous. I have begun another.

The main panic thus far has been fitting my library work, my studies, and my on-the-side blogging job around each other. I think I’ve figured it all out, for this semester at least, but it could be an ongoing battle. So that sets the stage for phase 2: The First Assignment.

I have to acknowledge, they’re being really nice! They’ve given us a “research skills and methods” course to do alongside the core “literature and modernity” seminars. Effectively, it’s a mini-course in how to do a Master’s degree that runs alongside the actual Master’s degree. I mentioned this at a party last night (I was at a party! I must be getting back into being a student. Although it was quite a small party and we all left around midnight), and everyone in the conversation had the same response: it would have been nice to have an equivalent course at undergrad. Not hand-holding or spoon-feeding or any other hyphenated noun-verb compound, just a few compulsory lectures in first year on essay structure and research resources, basically to put people from rubbish schools on more of an even footing with those who’d already had a grounding in such things.

My first assignment is for this research methods course. I have to compile a list of sources for researching a particular topic relevant to my overall degree, along with annotations to say why they’re good sources. Basically it’s like doing all the groundwork for an essay, without having to do the essay at the end.

So far, I’ve got as far as staring at the list of topics, and scoring some of them out. Getting back into the zone could take an effort. I think I’m probably going to compile research on “Modernism and History”, focusing on Eliot’s critical writing, and of course on dear old Jimmy Joyce. I’m back in the game, and that feels good. But I’ll admit to feeling …rusty.

Still, at least I’ve posted a century of posts. At least the Machine will be happy, about that. At least I have reached that goal.

(EDIT: I was expecting it to congratulate me more heartily, I’ll confess. A simple “You have published your 100th post on this blog”? Don’t you love me, Master?)

2 thoughts on “Century

  1. Congratulations on the 100th posting! And good luck on the degree. I’m thinking of law school myself … me with a Ph.D. already (in geeky stuff). Any particular reason you’re seeking the new degree?

  2. Thank you! Well, it’s an advancement on my current studies really — I have an undergraduate degree, now I’m going for the Master’s. It’s in c20th Literature, so possibly not quite as intimidating as law school…

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