Posts Tagged ‘ fixxie-skiddaz ’

Fear and Loathing (and Doubt) in London and Glasgow

Yes, I know it’s been quite a while since I last posted to this blog. I promise I’ll try harder. In case you don’t know, here’s a rough overview of what’s been going on:

  • May: Got offered a job as a cycle courier.
  • May: Never started said courier job because I got a job at UCL Students Union doing impact assessment on voluntary projects the following day.
  • June: Decided with partner to postpone our wedding.
  • June: Left job at UCL after 5 weeks to pursue an as-yet-nonexistent academic career in a post at Glasgow University doing a ‘policy relevant’ research project on relationships between globalisation and community.
  • July: Submitted final PhD thesis and formally became a doctor.
  • August: Finalised new wedding date with girlfriend.
  • September: Started applying for overseas research funding for 2011-2012.

Um… that’s about it. So there’s the update. Generally quite dull (apart from the wedding thing which, of course, is awesome).

But what I want to write about is that last night I had an attack of academic doubt. It happens to us all, is never ever spoken about, and is utterly horrible. It started for me when i wandered onto Gumtree and spotted a job advert as a cycle courier for the same company that offered me a job back in May. Most people i know were very relieved to hear that i had turned down the opportunity to become a courier in favour of a ‘proper desk job’; i wasn’t fussed either way at the time, but seeing this advert hit me pretty hard.

What the hell am i doing?

Why do i spend my life observing life rather than participating in it?

Why do i spend what little spare time i have writing crap that no-one cares about, rather than a) enjoying what little time i have on this planet and/or b) trying to make it a little better?

Doesn’t my research just grease the cogs of academic capitalism, no matter how ‘radical’ or ‘subversive’ it is?

What real-life impact is my research having, if any?

How can i ever look myself in the mirror and say that what i do is anything more than regurgitating obscure and trite academic rhetoric and vacuous trendy theory?

It was a pretty self-indulgent moment, really. We academics have it pretty good, even people like me at the very beginning of our academic life: good pay, good benefits, good ‘social standing’ (whatever that means), good job security if you’re lucky. Most people out there would probably sell their granny to do what I do.

At the same time, there is a powerful and largely unspoken sense of ‘inauthenticity’ (for want of a better word). It’s a bit of an elephant in the academic room, and few of us like to confront our position, our subjectivity, our human condition. That is, except in the safe and comfortable confines of ‘reflexive’ academic journals.

I often have fantasies of running away to sea. No kidding. I also wanted to be a welder when i scraped through my GCSEs but teachers, parents, other ‘elders’ and social expectations forced me into sixth form, then university then to where i am now. I am now happiest on my bike, and often wonder “what if i did take that courier job?”.

Well, frankly, if I did take that courier job, i don’t know what i would be doing right now. A couple of wonderfully insightful blogging courier women – 24tee and thatmessengerchick – have both given powerful insights into both the tough life of a courier and the joys of blogging. They are both so eloquent in their writing style and sharp in their critical engagement with their own proffession, it should make us academics frightfully embarrassed. And this is another driving force in this current wave of self-indulgent middle class doubt passing through me right now, and the drive to start making real use of this blog.


Hello there…

Welcome to my as-yet-sparsely-populated blog. I’m a geographer currently residing in sunny Bethnal Green, East London. I recently completed my PhD entitled Organising Anarchy: Spatial Strategy, Prefiguration and the Politics of Everyday Life at Queen Mary, University of London. Please don’t expect me to explain it, as I wouldn’t want to disappoint you so early on.

Elsewhere in life I am a keen fixed-gear cyclist, rock climber, hill walker, bonsai killer grower and a hopelessly devoted partner to H., my long-suffering girlfriend. Without a doubt, all of these will feature from time to time.

I don’t yet know what will become of this little project, but i have a few things in mind:

  • Illuminating and discussing the role played by geography, space and place in the way this funny old world works.
  • Pondering the joys and pains in the everyday experiences of being a young, inexperienced and often un(der)employed academic in these times of turbulence.
  • Writing a little about my pet topic – anarchism – and the ways in which I feel it has big things to say about the aforementioned funny old world, how it works, and occasionally how I feel it should work. Related to this, I would like to talk specifically about how anarchist approaches to political thought, action and critique can enrich our everyday lives and the way we (geographers, bloggers, humans, fauna…) relate to and live alongside one another.
  • Sharing a few tidbits from my academic research, which focuses chiefly on – you guessed it – anarchist thought and action, but also a whole load of other juicy stuff.
  • Hopefully also peppering this rather dry political stuff with some little rays of humour and intrigue along the way. Over the years, those of us with a leftward inclination have gained an awful (albeit not entirely undeserved) reputation for being dull, humourless and a bit whiney. I’ll do my best to convince you otherwise.

Just like the rich tapestry of life, I suspect that this blog will meander, stopping here and there, bifurcating at points and converging at others; becoming a rather labyrinthine mish-mash of intrigue, stupidity and utopia. Failing that, I hope that it will at least be modestly entertaining in parts…