No Time Like the Present (Blog)

This blog started out as a PhD blog.

At the moment, I will just call it a 'blog'.

Since July, 2016, I have been on what one might call an 'academic hiatus'. Being a doctorate candidate in London, while living and teaching part-time in Sweden, and being a parent, finally took its toll on me. I felt, in lieu of a better word, homeless. I had a home, but I rarely felt present; I had a home institution, but I was rarely there; and I had a part-time job teaching, but my mind was not really there.

Time off and just part-time work has enabled me to recuperate and given me new strength. Unfortunately (mostly in regard to my future CV), I do not think I will be able to return to King's College London, what used to be my school, and therefore I have begun new PhD candidate applications, much much closer to home.

So in other words, this blog post is written from the place which is known as in limbo. At my age, I am supposed to be all orderly and have most things figured out. But I have always been a seeker, an adventurer of sorts, and a small part of me enjoys this uncertainty. 

My wish is however, as always, to move into a way of life where my zest for writing and research can somehow be combined with my ever-growing love of photography.

David

No Rest For the PhD Students

Everywhere I go, I am reminded of the work ahead of me.

At the Jönköping museum I noticed this painting, hanging, despite its size, somewhat hidden.

It is called Utflykt i det gröna (The Luncheon on the Grass), 1972, by Swedish artist Gerhard Nordström (b. 1925). From the suite “Sommaren 1970” (”Summer, 1970"), oil on masonite, 190 x 435 cm.

It is reminiscent of Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass) by Édouard Manet from 1862/1863. To the left of the frame the artist has included victims from the My Lai massacre, something he said he could not leave out of the idyllic scene after hearing about it, and seeing the photographs.

The painting, and its peripheral place in the museum, speaks volumes about memory and forgetting.

A Brief Interlude Between Literature Review and Methodology

Despite my being completely ignorant about all things practical, we (that is my wife and I) are trying to renovate the old house we usually stay in during the summer months.

The task at hand is new floors in the two rooms visible in the photo.

Although far removed from my customary duties – reading and writing about memory –, there are nevertheless distinct similarities which I enjoy immensely. For instance, digging into the ground and uncovering layer upon layer of memories. The remnants of a shoe, an old newspaper, pottery. Hardly archaeological in any real sense, it is however, in principle, not that dissimilar. And it is a welcome, albeit brief, interlude between literature review and methodology.

Field Notes

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be field notes. I wanted to publish thoughts and ideas publicly for others to read. And, more importantly, for me to read. Too often, one forgets to actually read one's own texts.

However, my first year as PhD student at King's College London has been extremely difficult. On one level, it has to do with balancing studies with family life and extracurricular work (teaching at a local high school) to put food on the table, at least once in a while. On another level, it has been my project itself which has been difficult to pin down, narrow down, and get down to. Luckily I feel that my last session with my wonderful! supervisors solved many of these problems, and once again I feel positive and excited. My work at the high school is almost over, and I'm looking forward to spending the summer with my family and my books. This fall, we have planned a three-month research trip to Australia.

Therefore I hope that this blog will become what I initially wanted: field notes and ideas, a brief update on my progress. Even though I have a distinct feeling that I am one of very few readers, I will try to update it from time to time in order to be able to go back and actually 'read myself'.