Final review at 1:30 — done!

Please to cross your fingers for me, to send good thoughts, to wish me well. At 1:30, I give my final semester presentation. It’s been an exhausting week, between long papers and my first Ph.D. application (and more than that–I’ll post later).

But. Think well of me at 1:30. This is the most exhausting presentation I do each semester. It’s scary. I hope it goes well.


It was okay but not great — because right now, my thesis is at a not great point.

The good part of things were our critics: it was a great jury. As visitors, we had Hadas Steiner from SUNY-Buffalo, who works on architecture, technology and the neo-avant-garde (way relevant for me), and Spyros Papapetros, a Germanist from Princeton, who we had met during our visit there in November (he published a translation of Siegfried Ebeling’s 1926 Raum als Membran — Space as Membrane — in a recent publication and I flipped out: I’ve been looking for it for a decade.) They were both terrific–very thoughtful and played off each other nicely. Also, our beloved chaired visitor, Kurt Forster (who chaired the 2004 Venice Architecture Biennale) joined us, one of my favorite characters. He had many useful, thoughtful things to contribute. Overall, the other people on our committee were both supportive and appropriately challenging. I think the first year students got better feedback than we did a year ago, but they had prepared for weeks for the presentation.

It is obvious to me how much work I have to do. As he was leaving, Emmanuel (my advisor) told me and Federica, “Do not be afraid of criticism.” He went on to say that the criticism would never stop. Maybe it was just a Luxemburgian moment of nihilism, but I appreciated his comments. The thing is, from the very first time Nick Tangborn tore my review of the “Tubular Bells” remix to shreds in 1992, I’ve not really been afraid of it. When you write it, it’s no longer yours. If someone edits it or gives you criticism, your work gets better.

But. My work needs a lot of work. I need a heavy handed editor and some help finding direction for the rest of this project. I’m tired out right now and I don’t know which way it should go. I had an illuminating conversation in the bathroom, of all places, with Peggy Deamer, the (departing) associate dean and the faculty’s theory torchbearer. This afternoon, I’ll talk to Emmanuel again and I hope to at least figure out what to focus on over the holidays.


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