The seemingly endless blog pause of the last three-and-a-half months completely happened to me. I was of course busy – first at Yale, then with moving back from New Haven to Amsterdam, then with getting back into the swing of things in Amsterdam – but also, I started to feel that, after such a long silence, I should come up with something momentous to say.
That took a while. The last months in America were fantastic in every way, but not momentous, just intense. Coming back from New Haven was momentous, but it was uninteresting blogwise (I taught the day after we got back, I was tired, we all got sick…). However. Today I submitted the first draft of my entire PhD thesis to my supervisors. Sure, there’s a long way to go before I’ll actually emerge as Dr. Polak, but still. Pretty momentous.
What would Roosevelt do? FDR actually died in the spring before he could finish his great project – winning World War II. Arguably that contributed to his heroic status afterwards: he became somewhat like Moses, as many people noted at the time. Also, he did not have to take the decision whether or not to use the atomic bomb against Japan.
Good autofabrication perhaps, but I don’t want to die just now. Given that nobody would probably finish my thesis if I did, it would seem especially wasteful. Instead, now that I can’t really do anything in the weeks my supervisors are reading my thesis, I have acquired a sudden obsession with what I want to research next. There is so much I would like to know, that it is hard to decide what one or two ideas would be worth developing further. How does one go about that? Many people at Yale asked me the dreaded “What’s next?” question, and I never found a satisfactory way out. Various very learned people advised me to just say something – “the third time you bluff it, it’s true”, but I don’t feel it works like that. Or does it? What’s your experience?