Time for the real work!
- debbie ding
Welcome back to Debbie’s writing blog after an unexpected one month hiatus! It is Day 75 of my PhD and it has been a super busy month – I have never read so much or written so much in a long while! Because I am embarking on a practice-led PhD, I very much feel as if an enormous amount of making MUST accompany the writing since I certainly can’t be writing in a vacuum! – so I’ve been churning out lots of prototypes in Unity this month.
But how best to allocate my time between writing, completing coursework, AND making lots of new work? I was thinking of what projects I had to prioritise, and the reason why this blog slipped onto the backburner was that I realised that writing a blog can become an all-consuming “project” in itself and a weekly blog does feel like me inventing low stakes work for myself. The blog’s purpose is DOCUMENTATION, and I suppose, you could describe it as a kind of “warmup” for the writing I seriously need to do.
Even though it is “productive” to write a blogpost, it might be also a kind of procastination from the most high impact thing I could do with my time. If I think about it, maybe I really need to dealing with the PhD writing directly as my first priority – and you could say that focusing on writing the PhD is also the most direct route to achieving the objective of… completing the PhD!
PhD Progress: One step forward, two steps back
Well, the thing everyone told me would happen has finally happened. I somehow decided I had to throw out most of the words I had been writing for two months and then I rewrote almost everything from scratch again. But I think it was worth it.
Last month, I thought I was interested in researching about psychogeography in virtual reality and what it means to drift or flaneur in virtual reality, but along the way, I realised that by wanting to write my research about PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY – this would mean I was metaphorically hitching my wagon to a somewhat niche and obscure theoretical footnote in time, a very french 1950s marxist moment in time that I would very likely keep having to justify and explain over and over again to others.
To be frank, I really thought that I would not have to explain “psychogeography” or “situationism” to so many people. But first let’s acknowledge the biases in my previous education. Why is it that I had assumed that everyone would know what I was talking about when I talk about “psychogeography”? As noted in an earlier post, recently the Dingparents revealed to me that they had preserved my undergraduate notes until now (almost 20 years later) and when I perused this time capsule I realised I had archived away many reads which could go towards explains my current research interests today – hello Marx-Engels Reader, hello giant paperweight of a photocopied volume of the Situationist International Anthology, hello psychoanalysis, sociology, and new media studies notes!
I suppose that I had assumed that since I had absorbed many of these critical theory reads in the course of a very normal education in Singapore, I thought them to be generally common intellectual territory. (No, no, but that’s ridiculous, of course this is all extremely niche…)
This month, I think I am becoming more interested in the question of whether it is possible to get lost for real in virtual reality and what are the stakes involved. I’ve also spent considerable time trying to piece together my Literature Review and somehow this has also involved going back to read about cinema and photography and other older immersive mediums, since they too share an intertwined relationship with contemporary digital cartography.
I think I’ll stop here for today’s update. I think writing a full-on blog can consume an awful lot of time that I don’t have, so I’ll keep each post pretty short, just so that it mainly serves the purpose of quickly crystallising my thoughts into words. In the next post I’ll briefly document the projects, events and happenings of the last month!