Thursday, February 3, 2011


I evacuated from Research Country yesterday.  It got too hot for my comfort days ago; I bought a one-way ticket, packed my bags with essentials, and yesterday, I flew out of there.  I saw the internet for the first time in a week last night.

There are so many thoughts and emotions to sort through that I fear I have to babble even on the blog.  It's all too much.  My research project has probably been cut short permanently.  But of course, that's a small price to pay for my own safety, and for the reassurance of my friends and family, who were absolutely freaking out at the lack of communication in context of mounting violence and unrest.  I am proud to see many things that my friends and acquaintances in RC have done lately.  I am horrified to see other things that some other people have done and said.  That gets into some very painful and complicated topics that I suppose I should channel into a formal Pseudology article.  More painful still is the realization that Research Country is not having a brief spasm but is entering a protracted period of revolutionary change.  Revolutions are bloody more often than not.  But they have better chances of succeeding if people are willing, not to shed blood necessarily, but to have their own blood shed.  In the long term, I think this bodes well for the people of RC.  In the short term, I am fearful for the lives of my friends.  I hope I will see them again one day.

Most of my American colleagues in the various academic institutions in RC have evacuated, or are doing so now.  What I often said to them, as well as to my family, was that I was evacuating because, if nothing else, I've been out of email contact for a week, and I'm on the job market, and everything that happens back in the States has to be tended to online.  What broke the camel's back for me, though, was not the aggravating communication problems, but my apparently accurate analysis that certain political decisions taken in recent days were indicators of more violence, not less.  This is a skill that smart people need to develop in RC; it has little to do with my professional training.  It has been sorely taxing for my happy-go-lucky pseudologist brain to figure out on the fly how to interpret these things, but it is a survival skill.  It's no joke.

Speaking of colleagues, I want all my readers to know that I spent a lot of time over the last few days with Shedding Khawatir and her husband.  They are well, and last I heard, they were not evacuating just yet.  I'll update on them periodically if she stays offline and can't tend to her blog.

I go back and forth on feeling like a failure of a pseudologist, to just cut and run like this.  I don't want to be one of those academicians who flies into a research site, does his thing, and then decamps with no interest or concern for anyone still there.  But this revolution is not my project, and never was.  I'm hopeful that I can support it without actually manning a checkpoint or leading a charge over a barricade.  I'm not freaking Che Guevara.  I don't think I have it in me to be a soldier in anyone's revolution but my own country's, and as long as that doesn't become necessary, I can only devote so much time and energy to other people's, as horribly selfish and callous as that sounds.  It's not a pleasant experience to look into the abyss, is it? 

I'm wondering if there's any point in maintaining the pseudonymity of RC at this time.  Should I just stop that and use names?  Or, given my contacts with various people who say and do various things, should I keep that up?  Hmm.

It is very hard to think seriously about applying for postdoctoral fellowships when one is trying to get one's bearings as an evacuee from political strife.  I feel like emailing all the agencies for all the upcoming deadlines saying, "You have no idea what I've been through in the last week.  Don't tell me to send this in right away!"

There's no order to any of these thoughts.  I'm sorry for rambling.  I told you I would.


  1. Sending a hug your way, Dr. K. I'm glad you are safe.

  2. I'm so glad you and SK are okay. You've been in my thoughts since the internet went dark.

    The decision to get out doesn't make you a bad pseudologist--frankly, how much data could you collect under the given conditions? Sure, something of the air of a place, and you'd hear a much thicker rendition of the rumor flows than you might abroad, but nothing is settled or accounted for or...I mean, there's no work to be done. And I don't think this is a situation where having Americans on the barricades would make any difference. (I do a bunch of work to the east of RC, where USian bodies sometimes make a difference. Different politics.)

    You are so responsible! "I had to leave the revolution! THERE ARE POST-DOCS." ... OK, I would think the exact say damn thing.

    As for the psuedonymity of RC: Well, I've known since I first saw your name (why do you think I started following you?), but, well, it might be worth it to keep it obscured in six/nine months, when you might be talking about it again. But, IDK.

    Anyway. Glad you're back.

  3. I am so glad you are safe! I, of course, know what city RC is, but I have connections there. The average person probably doesn't know. Even if they do, there's no specifically identifiable info, so don't sweat it!

    Good luck with everything as you sort things out. You'll be in my thoughts!

  4. So glad to hear you're safe, Dr K! Don't second guess your decision one bit--you did the right thing.

  5. I'm so glad you're safe! Don't stress about leaving; there are other ways you can help besides manning the barricades, and one of them (that I think is very important) is teaching in the US and raising awareness --- my students can't find most countries on a map and anything you can tell them is helpful. Maybe that will translate over into better policy and less stupid elected figures? Maybe! You never know.

    And I am not sure actually where RC city is, but I do not work in your field(s). I vote for keeping the pseudonymity, even if it is gauzy, because you are still on the job market. People "in the know" could know, but people googling who are on a postdoc or job committee could not definitively link your personal thoughts to your real life name. I think it's a good thing. A prudent thing.

  6. Echoing everyone to say that I'm so glad you're okay. And I hope all your friends and colleagues who are still there are--and remain--okay too.

  7. Ditto. And ditto. And I've thought of you every time RC has been mentioned.