Day spent examining strings of 26 different shapes, along with gaps and dots


in Daily updates, Oxford, Travel, Writing

Nuffield tower

I am feeling increasingly as though journalism will be the thing to do once I finish my M.Phil. I want to travel and one of the things that I am fairly good at is writing: especially the kind of writing that must be done quickly and consistently. I am fairly sure that I would be able to get a job in the field, even though I know nothing of its inner workings, and it may serve many of the purposes that I have for myself in the coming years. There is only so much, after all, that can be learned from books. Academia is, in general, somewhat terrified of talking to people – a fear that I have grown to share, outside the narrow confines of fellow students and other members of a close cabal. Even where we deal with outsiders, it’s behind the bulletproof glass of case studies and surveys, interviews with pre-selected questions vetted by ethics committees. My perception of the greater authenticity of journalism is a draw, even if journalistic thought and action is not immune from other forms of criticism.

This is not a thing that I see myself as doing indefinitely. It’s something I would want to do in a roving fashion: out seeing things rather than sitting behind a desk in Manhattan. I don’t think it would be sustainable over the long term, but I do think it would be a really effective counterpoint to what I have done so far. Perhaps it would also be a good lead-up into whatever is to come after.

Talking with Tristan and Meaghan Beattie tonight was really good. One of the oddest things about living in Oxford is my near-total lack of people with whom I have substantive, personal conversations. The closest it comes is discussion of the M.Phil program. It’s something that will come with time, I hope….

I learned today that, since the tour she is going on may already be entirely booked, I may not be going to Greece or Malta after all. That said, the possibility remains and I will have to wait and see. I very much hope it will come together.

Scheduling conflicts continue to plague the mooted bloggers’ gathering.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous February 2, 2006 at 2:12 am

I think you would be an excellent journalist, but then, you could do almost anything you wanted to.

Journalism is a lot of fun. It’s not something you really need formal training for, although that helps. But I’ve done freelance work.

You could write for the Economist!


Milan February 2, 2006 at 2:29 am


The big project for the next ten years or so is to build up a base of knowledge and experience sufficient to begin to act with at least a modicum of wisdom. That way, I figure, it will be something like half and half: half of life spent learning, the other half spent acting and learning more. We shall see what comes of it.

I hope we see each other soon.

B February 2, 2006 at 2:35 am

Good photo today.

David Gourlay February 2, 2006 at 3:38 am

First off, this is a great blog and I applaud your clear commitment to intellectual capacities.

I am struck by your statement of, “near-total lack of people with whom I have substantive…” conversations (with). Interesting given the reputation Oxford has as one of the most prominent intellectual environments and naturally, we would assume that the students would put a face and name to that.

Those of us who enjoy these conversations constantly face societial barriers regardless of the environment around us and what we may think is institutional nurturing.

I find this all too unfortunate with ideas and public service; ironically, the very field where substantive discussion should always thrive. If we don’t demand more of the quality of our public discourses, the policies, programs and services that the public sector provides to our societies will suffer and then we will all as well.

Reading your statement reflects this reality, but hopefully fora like blogs gives us all an opportunity to raise the bar higher.

Milan February 2, 2006 at 8:50 pm

In the phrase “substantive, personal conversations,” ‘personal’ was the key word. What I meant is that I do not yet have the kind of friends here with whom you would discuss relatively intimate personal issues. This statement was mostly a lament about my distance from the people who I trust the most – generally, people who I’ve known for a very substantial chunk of my life. Having been here for only five months, it would be extremely unrealistic to expect anything like that here.

Oxford abounds with stimulating intellectual conversations. An infamous case is the lengthy argument I got into at one of Claire’s parties about the relative merits of Superstring Theory and Quantum Electrodynamics.

Anonymous February 2, 2006 at 9:01 pm

The kind of situations where you tend to open up – really long walks at night, primarily – don’t seem to be overly common in Oxford. At least, not now.

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