All I Do Is Read and Write

I’ve been writing the most brain destroying essay for the last eight days.  Here’s a sample:

The necessity of the Co-operative principle, being central to Gricean theory, is often disputed by theorists. Relevance Theory, as proposed and outlined by Sperber and Wilson (1995) does not ascribe to this idea of co-operation in communication being the focal issue, but does concur with Grice’s opinion on the essentiality of expression and recognition of intentions in human conversation. (Sperber and Wilson, 2004: 1)
Sperber and Wilson build upon Grice’s foundational model of inferential communication but offer an alternative approach in many respects. Whilst they also agree with Grice’s intuition that utterances create expectations of relevance, (ibid.) they reason that ‘the expectations of relevance raised by an utterance are precise enough, and predictable enough, to guide the hearer towards the speaker’s meaning.’ (Sperber and Wilson, 2004: 2)

I am truly about to just hand it in, whatever state it’s in, though I know it’s not quite finished. Part of me finds it difficult to continue to do these assignments when the end is so near, and I know that this degree isn’t really going to mean much to me anyway. Certainly giving my opinion on whether Relevance Theory is an improvement on Gricean ideas won’t help me to pay whatever bills await. I suppose you never know. There is a higher plan, of that much I’m sure.

Aside from this essay, I’ve been writing for other projects, catching up on emails that I ignored while I was away, writing reports of the trip for, and finding myself sitting here writing a blog when I should be finishing my abominable essay. And I don’t even want to start on the amount of books I’m in various stages of reading. My bedside table looks like a book sale. Currently I’ve got all the bookmarks I own on the go (plus paper scraps), with Vaisnava Compassion by Satsvarupa Maharaj; Krsna, Israel and the Druze by Dhira Govinda Dasa; A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth; The Art of Sadhana by B.P. Puri Maharaj; Songs of Three Great South Indian Saints by William Jackson; The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton; Jaiva Dharma by Bhaktivinode Thakur – I could go on but there’s no point. Perhaps I should just face up to the fact that this entire blog is blatant procrastination that I can’t afford to indulge in, and get back to the dry debate on conversational maxims.

But I shouldn’t complain. I chose this after all.


Filed under Linguistics, University Coursework

8 responses to “All I Do Is Read and Write

  1. I’ m sorry to insist that you go through all this. At least afterwards you’ll have a clear conception of what studies you don’t wish to pursue – which always serves to crystallise the mind’s real object of study.
    To mix metaphors: every pearl requires some grit to start it off.

  2. oh how i miss school…enjoy it enjoy it enjoy it.

  3. I know! I’m sure I’ll only complain more once I’m out. I’ll try and enjoy it on your behalf 😀

  4. Want to finish off my essay on my behalf?

  5. Hahahaha! That’s classic.

    It takes us a year or more to train people out of academic writing once they start with us in the Technical Writing group where I work. Academic writing is some of the most obtuse, obfuscated communication out there. It’s written less to communicate succinctly and effectively with a wide audience and more to sound smart.

    One of the biggest things is the use of the passive voice. I spoke with Sri Prahlad about this, because he’s doing his Masters in Psychology. He told me that his professors prefer the passive voice because it’s “more objective”. Active voice has an actor, therefore it’s subjective.

    I thought about this for some time, and I think it’s a coverup. Of course, whatever you write comes from a particular viewpoint, so passive voice is not any less subjective, it just hides the actor. In that sense, by presenting itself as somehow neutral and objective it’s actually less reliable.

    I’m currently rewriting my Psychology textbook because I just can’t read it. Every time I start trying to engage with the subject matter my mind automatically starts editing…

  6. Priya

    Ooh what a lovely list of books, is A Suitable Boy any good? I may actually get round to reading it at some point…

  7. Jahnavi

    Sitapati prabhu, I totally agree – academic writing is hopelessly obtuse. It’s one of the main things that puts me off further study – I just feel like everyone’s constantly trying to outsmart eachother – in quite a shallow way. I suppose the technical writing you has the exact opposite aim – surely to communicate effectively to the widest range of people possible?

    Priya – A Suitable Boy is so far really really good – surprisingly easy to get into considering its overwhelming length!

  8. Priya

    Fab I will pick up a copy! :o)

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