The Laursonian Institute

The Laursonian Institute

An exercise in thoroughness

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I keep on slipping, slipping, slipping…

It seems around now, at the end of each quarter, this void opens up in my head. It’s a place I know I shouldn’t go, because I can’t be there and here at the same time. It’s full of thoughts: unorganized, murky, recursive thoughts. My papers live in here. I can dip my toe in, and pull out paragraphs like seaweed. But I can’t organize a paper, and think it at the same time. Today, I’m slipping in. I’ve organized, organized, organized… I’ve outlined, I’ve re-outlined, neatly stacked my books, prepared my topics, summarized my readings. This is as far as this line goes. From here, you must disembark, grab your paltry outlines, and step into the fog. If you’ve done a good enough job you’ll have stashed food in your pockets, water in your bag, and brought a map of the right city, in the right time. You gather this fog in your arms, package it, label it, store it, and arrange it. Three weeks pass, and you can’t remember why you were here, or why it seems like so much time has passed and there’s nothing to show for it. More weeks of silence, relative freedom, organized thought returns after a restorative period of languid disinterest. At the end of it all, someone gives you a grade: an A. The same grade you would have gotten regardless of the sequence of events that lead you here. Not because your paper earned it, but because your graduate school admission came with this clause: you’ll spend the next several years writing papers no one reads, compelled to do so by a sense of duty and a fear of the unknown, which will earn you in all circumstances the letter signifying your continued acceptability: an A.

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