This morning I was pulling my bike down from its rack, the beginning of my commute and my mental planning for the day. On two wheels or on two feet, I sometimes can compose a few thesis sentences or consider a strategy or make a mental list. Today, the lightning bolt that hit me was that my office is so much the physical disorganization right now that it is nearly impossible for my mental organization to be any better. Actually, I’m not sure which direction the arrow of causality points. I’ll pretend that correcting office clutter will correct psychological disorder.
That was the impetus for the lightning. I might simply need some kind of “office makeover,” and it struck me that there are too-many-to-count television shows with a reality-based, makeover theme. Home makeovers, wardrobe makeovers, exercise makeovers …
But no makeovers for the academy or the academician. It’s exactly what’s called for, though. Someone to come into my office a scorn me for allowing entropy and “temporary” stacks of papers to take over. Perhaps the fashionably dressed host of the show with the British accent would take me by the shoulders and yell in my face, getting me to understand how imperative it is to turn my scholarly life around. They’d finger through the stack of research pieces or flip through the files in the drawer: “You’re still citing the 1985 Strike and Posner piece??? That is so . . . so . . . so 1985!”* Or, “Where is your theoretical framework? No, you can’t match that method with that epistemological underpinning! Are you blind?”
It’s true. I’m the academic equivalent of a 40-something woman in old mom jeans and frumpy shoes. I’m flabby; my closet is filled with a disorganized pile of styles better suited for a generation prior. Worse yet, I’ve collected three generations of research work and have mashed them together, piled on a desk or stuffed into a file cabinet. I’m sure I’m not alone. Perhaps there really does need to be a show — or entire channel — to help the helpless scholar.
*Um, yeah. I still cite this.