Having “boiled” down the purpose of this blog to four aspects of my identity and thought, I still feel the necessity of qualifying each of them still further. I’m not sure which of the four is more presumptuous, but from one perspective, scholar takes the prize. Yes, I own a lot of books, to the chagrin of my accountant and the delight of Jeff Bezos (haha–as if I had an accountant.) But at present, I’m merely a lowly graduate student, a Ph.D not-yet-candidate. Moreover, I’m in an applied and interdisciplinary field, Education, which by some lights at least is chronically under-theorized and -developed. I beg to differ. Being an educationalist means a necessary interdisciplinarity, as well as a necessary engagement with praxis and pragmatism, as well as a reflexivity about scholarship itself, that conditions us to a unique kind of epistemological rigor.
Dewey and this quotation headlines my contemplations about and as a “scholar” because, instead of entrenching more deeply in the institutional structures that ensure/enshrine safety for an academic, I hope that my scholarly work does not merely describe, but changes. That presumptuous verb change lacks an object, and it is underspecified to suggest why “scholar” or even “scholar-activist” cannot stand alone as an identity. When it comes to disciplines and discourses, personally, my ambition is to be a bridge-builder as a researcher, to exercise grace and civility in an often cold and contentious academic culture. Yet, I would not sweat the tedium of academia if not infused with the belief that from one perspective, “we at war.” Our science must be strong (even us interpretivist, phenomenological, qualitative types) because the stakes are so high for our product, for what we hustle and grind for.
The hand that signed the paper felled a city;
Five sovereign fingers taxed the breath,
Doubled the globe of dead and halved a country;
These five kings did a king to death.
The mighty hand leads to a sloping shoulder,
The finger joints are cramped with chalk;
A goose’s quill has put an end to murder
That put an end to talk.
The hand that signed the treaty bred a fever,
And famine grew, and locusts came;
Great is the hand that holds dominion over
Man by a scribbled name.
The five kings count the dead but do not soften
The crusted wound nor stroke the brow;
A hand rules pity as a hand rules heaven;
Hands have no tears to flow.
As a scholar, I hope I make the choice again and again, to choose life. My meager contributions are the smallest drop in the largest bucket, but we had best mind the currents we flow in, because they shape canyons.