Encore un petit poème

You deserve to put research first and also to recognize and honor the conditions you need to have in order to do so.

I took these ideas for granted until I became a professor, after which they were eroded — in part by other professors who alleged one should be able to work in any conditions at all, if one were “serious.”

Arguments I have had repeated to me about not putting research first include, but are not limited to:

– “You were not hired for that, we only said so but we did not mean it;”

– “It is so very painful to others to see that you are more successful than they are;”

– “Your work will never be truly worthwhile, only acceptable, so there is no point in making it a priority. For personal satisfaction, you should seek other activities;”

and most shockingly,

– “Your academic and professional success is a major symptom of personal failure. To have done what you have done by this age, and in particularly to be conducting research in the precise area you are, is necessarily the result of needing to hide from major trauma and also sin on your part.”

All of this is, of course, ridiculous, and you should not take it seriously, either, when you hear it. I resisted very well for several years, but when I got the last piece of bad news listed here I stopped being able to function so completely.

You deserve to put research first and also to recognize and honor the conditions you need to have in order to do so.




Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman

2 responses to “Encore un petit poème

  1. Vero

    Wow Z,

    Having heard all those things must have been very depressing. The one in your list that I recognized having said to me is #3 and it was phrased in these terms: “You should not work so hard; it is stupid because you’re not going to get the Nobel Prize and you should seek doing other activities”.

    The person who used to say this to me happened to be the wife of the Division Chief who had worked as a technician in husband’s lab but had a lot of power in giving access to critical common instruments for research.

    Her statement didn’t bother me at all and I continued to do what I thought I had to do but had to put up with her obstructionist behavior may times.

    • Z

      As though getting the Nobel Prize or something like it were the only possible point. It is interesting to me when people say you should stop doing things you enjoy for the sake of doing the things they think you should enjoy.

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