Marnie is so my Layna this year. I was hugging her the other night and saying i feel like i don’t see her enough, even though i see her almost every day.
I also adore my advisor.
I e-mailed him Tuesday evening and his reply Thursday morning began "Sorry to be so long in replying."
In Harlem Renaissance class on Thursday, Kevin said "I'm a gay boy; I like drama." This reminded me of Michael talks about "boy poets" and "girl poets," something which i've always found terribly endearing. I thought about how referring to something with child words is something of a distancing mechanism -- for example, i often jokingly say i'm "a [insert negative adjective here] child" and calling myself a child further distances myself from the modifier, almost saying "my child-self which is not my real-self is that adjective." I remembered the paper i wrote for Doug’s English Language class about the use of the word "girl" and how he mentioned in his comments on the paper that while i argued in my paper that it's a derogatory, belittling term, many students refer to their housemates as "girls" and i didn't address that. That aspect had completely not occurred to me before he mentioned it, but after thinking about it a bit i came up with something of an explanation: it has to do with the fact that we still don't really think of ourselves as grownups, so we don't think of our age-similar housemates as grownups either.
Anyway, this was all simmering in my brain that afternoon, particularly the idea of displacing ideas, feelings, etc. onto a child as a distancing mechanism, a way of not really having to own negative ideas about ourselves, and i thought about the "the emperor has no clothes" trope (also known as "out of the mouths of babes..."), of having children say what no one else will say. In real life children often say the uncomfortable truths, so it's a very convenient mechanism for an author to put politically or otherwise dangerous things into their mouths (kind of like using an "unreliable narrator").
I said all this in my e-mail to him, ending with “So, because i am certifiably insane, i wondered if there was a thesis to be had in there. Thoughts?” and his response was:
The long time in reply comes from thinking about your question about the ways we refer to, and refer to ourselves as, children. Would this make a good thesis topic? The subject is fascinating. Part of me wants to say, "Yes, goddam right, it's an absolutely superb thesis topic!" But another part creeps up and says, "How much would I actually be able to say on this subject?" It's the kind of dangerous subject that's hard (probably impossible) to research--you'd have to develop all the fundamental ideas yourself. In other words: it's the very best kind of thesis subject, because it's also the hardest.
On theses, incidentally--you're obviously somebody who should do one if you want to. (And ONLY if you want to--there's no point in doing theses for the honor of it. The ONLY reason to do one is interest.) I'm going on sabbatical next spring, and so won't be able to an advisor in such projects; but if you decide to go forward, please let me know. I'll ask to be second reader.
Hope all's going well (it's been awhile since we spoke)--
I need to e-mail him back so we can chat sometime.
OMG, just the idea that i might do a thesis is terrifying. I’m a junior. I’m gonna be a senior next year. I really doubt i’m going to actually do a thesis, but just the fact that i’m close to the time where one does such things.... And did you read what he wrote? I bounce every time i read it. He thinks it’s incredibly difficult, but also an “absolutely superb” idea. There may be no secret handshake, but i love my advisor.