Mistletoe and Wine


I know some folks at work have wound down for Christmas already, but hah!  The PhD monkey on my back isn’t going to let me stop until the last-minute – indeed had a heated discussion with Mrs Llama over the weekend about working on Christmas eve.  She’s against it (as she’ll have stopped work then) but I was hoping to get in perhaps at least half a day’s efforts.  Maybe I’ll just come and hide in the computer room and pretend to play games whilst reading some papers?  I also managed to finally sit down and write something new for my cooking blog as well, which I’ve been meaning to do for ages.  Might have to pick that back up over the Christmas period to get back into the swing of it.

A critically good read
Anyway today I’m heading back into theory land again with some critical management studies (CMS).  I think once I’ve read another book or two this week I’m going to be ready to rebuild my research proposal again on a stronger foundation.  So that’s my plan for the week: read a bit more and then write through to the end.


Nose back to the CMS grindstone today to get through the rest of the books.  I think what I’ve taken away from this one is that there are a variety of ways for humanities scholars to approach CMS; and that every one of the approaches is disliked by people using other approaches.  Note to self, prepare robust defence for whatever theoretical approach you take with this.  Which in my case looks to be a blend of critical theory and post-modernism; not a sentence I ever thought I’d write in all seriousness.

Had a dental appointment mid-afternoon and I just knew they’d ask me what I was doing now, so practised explaining what my PhD is in brief and simple terms.  Considering the holiday period we’re about to hit, suspect this won’t be the last time I’ll need to have a pocket-handkerchief sized description of what I’m aiming to do.

And would you believe it, they didn’t ask!  Shame, but then a former professional colleague of mine got in touch to ask for a brief note on what I was doing for a society newsletter.  As the former Chair of the organisation I suspect at least a couple of people will be interested I suppose!

Eventually it looked like thisHighlight of the day had to be only tangentially related to my work.  When Mrs Llama came home she criticised me for using the wet logs to start the evening’s fire.  When I pointed out that I thought it was worth trying she espoused;

But every time I’ve used them they’ve not lit, so why did you do it?

I pointed out (in jest) that I rejected her positivistic based approach, and said that I’d done a humanities reading of the log situation and decided to go my own way.  Phrases like deconstructed, feminism and post-modernism flowed as I explained why is was a much more scholarly approach to take a different reading of the situation and make use of the wet logs.

Then I decided for the sake of world peace, to go and add another fire lighter to get it going again…


Foucault by default
Kicked off the day by writing up my notes on the CMS book, answering a couple of emails, working on my timeline and hunting down a journal article to read this morning.  After that I think I’m going to dive into another CMS book to really see if I can end the pre-Christmas period having a strong understanding of this area.  or at least as strong as I can get without actually employing it in anger.  Also ordered myself a brief book on Foucault, as his name and work has cropped up time and again in recent reading; along with Marx and Weber but I’ll get to them sometime next year!  Might be able to sneakily read the Foucault book over Christmas without Mrs Llama cottoning on that I’m actually working.  Here’s hoping!

Also added the 40th reference that I’ve read to my bibliography (which is actually missing 2 or 3 books I’ve only part read on theory) – the sum total of the past 11.5 weeks’ work – has it only been that short a time?  Feels more like a lifetime ago that I started out on the PhD trail!


Commonwealth: A Novel
Yesterday and today were spent in battle with Hardt and Negri’s Commonwealth; a book recommended by both my supervisors   It’s lain on the pending pile for the past month as the rather dull looking cover and brief flick through the contents didn’t exactly fill me with delight and desire to start in on it.  Also, as I’ve been focussing in on the theory for my work, rather than the broader knowledge for a while it’s not been critical.  However, since I’ve decided to walk away from the theory and methods until post-Christmas the time was ripe to try to read through something pretty meaty and challenging before the close of play.

Took me most of the second half of Wednesday to read the first 130 pages (the book has over 400) – and for a large amount of the time my eyes kept wanting to run out of my head rather than read the words.  It’s generated 9 phrases I need to add to my glossary (and probably another dozen I’ve decided aren’t too critical) and kept switching between English, Latin, French and German which somewhat challenged my linguistic skills!  However, today I made much better inroads – partly because I just discipline my self to take as little time away from studying as I could – even the postman turning up was an unwelcome distraction.

I was really glad I persevered though.  While I can’t say I completely understood the whole book (or even a large chunk of it), there was still quite a lot that I could see the relevance of w.r.t. my research interests.  I think I’d have been in tears if I’d spent a day and a half and got nothing out of it; but thankfully once again my supervisors were on the money.  Wish they’d warned me about the heavy Marxist reading of the various concepts I’d need wade through.

Still not overly clear on what biopolitics is though, isn’t all politics biological? Yes, I will be looking it up as they didn’t really define this in the book – despite it being the one substantive word they used more than any other!  And just don’t get me started on altermodernity!

I think, love it or hate it – I’ll be using this book as the subject of one of my assessed book reviews I have to do for the PGDip I’m reading for alongside the PhD; it certainly has sufficient philosophical content which is a requirement and I feel the need to go back and give bits of it a repeated reading.

Just not this year ok!


Well as we’re still here maybe we won’t need this tune, thanks Mayans!

Today to round out the year I read some of the pile of reports and journal papers as a spot of light relief; which ended with me trying to finish one on IPR, patents and copyright after Mrs Llama arrived home a little early from work.  I also returned to twitter after a three weekish silence (sulk) for a bit of a chat.  That said the odd thing about working from home in the run up to Christmas is there’s none of that having to wish people you never speak to the remaining 51 weeks of the year merry Christmas as they drift off in dribs and drabs from the office in the last week and the final hours.  Nor the awkwardness of getting out of the “Let’s go to the pub!” at closing time.  On the other hand, there wasn’t anyone to tell me to knock off early and so it was almost 5pm before I downed tools.

(And I’ll be sneakily typing up some notes on Monday, despite Mrs Llama demanding it be a holiday day – sorry my dear but I need to do this while they’re fresh in my mind, and I’m tied up all weekend!).

Christmas2012Anyway, I’ll be back next week with a brief post taking a quick look back at everything I’ve read this term.  If the Wife lets me!  Happy Christmas.


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