Shadow in the night (bliss)

I had the pleasure, honour, happiness, you name it, to print my PhD candidate’s works today to put them in my holiday luggage. And for two of them, I had to actually bind them in order for the leaves to stay together.

The progress of their scholarly work is reaching a new stage of reality. Now I see these meanders of sources, discussions, structures changing (or not), additional readings adding confusion, but then clarity, become something of its own, after wondering for a long time what I should do to make that happen. Obviously, the advisor has a small impact on the reality of a dissertation, being more like a presence than like a guide really, since the whole point of the thing is to become your own guide. So it’s more like the advisor is a shadow in the night, standing by the wall just in case, under some dim street light. Well, you never know. Might need help after all. Or not.

The shadow in the night thing – that’s a blessing really. Looking back at one year ago, when I felt broken by the system and only wanted out, I am back to learning, to writing, to reading, to doing, and I still marvel every single day about that. Didn’t have time to open a single literature book for years. Didn’t have time to think about doing what could be a good deed. Never wrote but grant applications or overdue papers, the only silver lining being papers delivered on conferences with uplifting discussions. Never had time to learn things I wouldn’t need to apply immediately. By what miracle did I manage to get out of this vicious circle, submit a habilitation, and still be – there? Meeting the right people at the right time is my only plausible answer. They should know my gratitude towards them is infinite. Being back to a more stretched perception of time is bliss, it is like being able to load batteries again after scratching at the last bar for years. I think every researcher should be granted that feeling, but I know that very few are.

So now. Been reading Vargas Llosa and laughed out loud at Pedro Camacho’s radio episodes turning to nonsensical apocalypse while eating turkish pizza on the playground. The kids play until dusk. It is summer.

Been thinking about editorial models that could save us from an Academic disaster probably close to Camacho’s nonsensical apocalypses – more on that in Vienna (TEI Conference), Antwerpen (ESTS Conference) and Prague (DARIAH Winter School) this fall.

Been thinking about ways of making research be about open, rich texts – more about the Data Re-Use Charter in a few days on this blog, and more about my kalliope cooperations by the end of the month.

Been happily developing plans to enrich my edition and hoping the funding agencies will see the “enrichment” thing like I do – namely that I need some of their riches to develop the multilayered editorial model I envision.

Need to write two more chapters and hope to have the book out in January. You know, the one book without which you are denied being a true scholar. So I’m only 6 months away from being a true scholar, which is kind of fun after it being an angry chimera for years. No rush now, never been so close.

I still don’t have the answer to one of my biggest questions (how can research infrastructures save research?), but I am convinced this is an important one – and more importantly, one that is thusly correctly formulated. We won’t make it to real research any more (and by that I mean research that is not project-hopping), if we don’t have infrastructures on our side.

That’s what I’m on, reading Vargas Llosa and eating turkish pizza on the playground. At dusk. Because it is summer.

Cite this blog post
Anne Baillot (2016, August 1). Shadow in the night (bliss). Digital Intellectuals. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from

Anne Baillot

I am a Professor of German Studies at Le Mans Université. My areas of research include German literature, Digital Humanities, textual scholarship and intellectual history.

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