Saturday, February 26, 2011

Can't stop won't stop

Know where I'm going next week?  Research City.  Know why I'm going?  Because I'm a motherfucking pseudologist, that's why.  And, to be fair, because I caught a lucky break with the workability of my postdoc's administrative office.  That the admins are on the scene again and have our back for getting back to our research helps a lot.

Now that I've bought my ticket and can count down the days, I can stop feeling so much like a displaced person here in Evacuation City, and enjoy this final week as more of a proper vacation.  I'm going on a sightseeing trip tomorrow, because why the hell not?  Why not go see a few things that I don't ordinarily get to see?

I'm just a tiny bit anxious about the political situation in Research Country, which isn't anywhere near as bad as it was when I left, but could certainly be better/quieter/stabler/more democratic/etc.  But of course, this is partly why I'm going back: a lot of pseudologists would give their right arms for the chance to spend some months chronicling a period of revolutionary change up close.  I'm actually really lucky, to put it cynically, that I can get paid to do this and acquire a huge amount of data that could only be gathered at this historical moment.  This excitement balances out the fear.  I'm not a front-line guy; I don't have the temperament of a war correspondent, as I seem to recall someone else saying recently.  But between the intense desire (to say nothing of financial necessity) to complete my fellowship, my sense of obligation to my RCian friends who have been busting their asses to enact real change, and perhaps even a dash of egotistical pleasure that I will be doing for months what other pseudologists are paying through the nose to do for a week, I feel like it's time for me to step up and do it.  (Assuming, of course, that all hell doesn't break loose, a la a certain unfortunate country close to RC.) 

This also brings up a hitherto unknown issue for me in my research: my political commitments and my sympathies with one group of RCians over another.  (Anyone who has read the last month's worth of blog posts here already has a fair idea of where those sympathies lie.)  Until this year, none of that mattered at all; everyone could – and did – paint themselves as oppressed by the state in one way or another, and everyone saw me as a welcome opportunity to air complaints that they couldn't just blurt out loud in public.  Now push has come to shove, and some people have belied their early complaints by, um, taking the wrong side of history. 

Never mind what this implies about my personal relationships with some of these people; that can always get worked out somehow or other.  What comes to mind is that, depending on how certain events proceed, I may – in a very hypothetical and not-very-likely, don't-think-I'm-beating-my-breast-about-this way – find myself annoying some of the powers that be, owing to things that I have publicly said in easily traceable formats.  It would absolutely suck to blow this opportunity by being kicked out of RC by some irate functionary.  But, since I feel like the time has passed for staying officially neutral about all this, I don't see any way around the public statements.  All I can say is that I have no official voice as a foreign national, so it's not strictly my business, but I have personal loyalties to my friends who have taken great risks for their country in a way to which I, as an American, respond deeply. 

In any case, I rather doubt that I would be ejected for what amounts to posting a bunch of links and comments on Facebook.  But, since we all know now that Facebook played a more than casual role in these proceedings, it is technically possible that someone is monitoring such things, and may call me to account.  But seriously, even discussing this feels self-aggrandizing to me: I regret that I have but one Facebook account to give for Research Country!  I'm not some hipster douchebag trying to pick up chicks in a coffeehouse by broadcasting my personal sacrifices for a political cause; I'm a very junior academic researcher trying to build a career.  The point is that I am aware that my political statements now carry more weight than they used to; it's not just a theoretical exercise to run while killing time at a café.  I have a lot less to lose, and perhaps even something more to gain, from speaking my mind than have my colleagues who work full-time in RC, which is itself a curious state of affairs.  For pseudologists, who often* get very comfortable posing (unconvincingly, as a rule) as radical activists while maintaining the most conventional and conformist of professional and personal lives, it's actually kind of freaky to confront the possibility that their academic privileges and more could be rescinded for the most modest levels of political engagement.  And, maybe, a needed splash of cold water.

*Discounting, of course, the pseudologists who knowingly put themselves in serious harm's way out of their professional commitments.  People get killed doing this job sometimes.


  1. I was just thinking, that depending on where "safe haven country" was, it could be just as dangerous now, what with the entire area going up in craziness.

    Good luck! Stay safe! Rock the unprecedented research adventure! And keep us posted if they don't shut off the internet!

  2. Oh Sis, I'd be deeply shocked if anything like that happened in Evacuation Country any time soon. The only people I've seen here who even half-heartedly want revolution are the anarchist alterna-kids who all hang out in that one café.

    Rocking the research would be good. I'll orient for that!