i felt reasonably good today, because there's some semblance of flow to my research proposal, and i like how it goes from a small, tractable empirical research question to larger questions which i don't have the chutzpah or skills to tackle yet, but i will once you give me the money and space on your course.

but what i can't shake off (or why this entire endeavour depresses me) is that i can't help thinking it's work for nothing... sure, you're supposed to enjoy reading papers and thinking and i would love to say the entire experience is edifying in itself but it's not! it gives you mild moments of joy when you're making progress, but still after it's done and it looks nice to myself i can't help thinking, will it look nice to the selector? will this be good enough to get me into graduate school? because that's what matters in the end, and that's what i'm doing it for, right? you almost think that the incentives in a research career are to come up with things your supervisor likes. err professor poincaré, it's true, you're right, there must be an ether somewhere and there just must be something wrong with our instrumentation. my proposal is to make a better instrument to detect the ether... can i join your lab? i CANNOT deal with such insecurity, or i feel i can't. it's killing me... it was easier just to want less... but i'm halfway there, aren't i?

it must be so comforting to work for money. every day brings some validation that what you do is useful for someone somewhere. hell, even if it isn't, money sure is useful to me. still, part of me recalls a quote, a pastiche of william easterly's book and amartya sen's review of it. we have a system which delivers medicines to rich people most of the time. we don't have a system (yet) which delivers medicines for under a dollar to people living under the poverty line. but we want a system too where j.k. rowling delivers fantasy teen wizards to young people who want to read them everywhere (and sen is quick to point out, that she wrote the books while on welfare and an arts grant, so it's not just the market!)

it's just the sheer terror, of putting something out there which people may or may not like... i don't know how people do it. and having your income and esteem depend on it. it blocks me, personally, i'll take it way too seriously, and that's why the extent of my contributions will probably only be to journals or student publications. maybe that's why many people start out as journalists first, to be paid for writing something in demand.

and so you're supposed to say, this entire experience has been good and wholesome. but while i was doing it, i was missing out the opportunity to apply to xxx other pwnage finance courses to try to further my career, or i had to miss out on schoolwork, and if it doesn't work and i all end up with an edifying experience there's nothing in there to pimp my cv. that's how it works innit? i'd have a story to tell though, but they'd occupy only a few trips to the bar before getting old anyway.

resourcefulness and resilience is meant to get you back up there... i'm pretty lucky, i have stuff to fall back on. i look around my life and i look at the papers and i see credit constraints, norms, a zillion things keeping most people moving where they want to be... if you were more realistic, you'd have to think... but someone's got to be the peon anyway?

but i guess when i do fail and become a wage slave (noooo, never! capital rules in capitalism. selling labour is serfdom!), i will be able to look up at men of ideas and say with a glint in my eye that i can respect them because i know how hard it was (although if their ideas are bullshit and they talk a tad too much you start to think if it's effortless for them and they were just born doing it). sometimes i think that's what dissertations are for, and i still can't believe that our school doesn't mandate one. but i think they realize that they can't think of enough research topics nor have the time for 200 eager economics students (who can't be arsed cause they've got a job with their predicted 1sts or 2:1's anyway). the research is going to be empirical trivia (except for a few brilliant people, maybe), or an extension of a professor's work, but i still see some value in that, after all, it's meant to be exposure... if everyone were able to be original, there wouldn't be any value in that isn't there?

although part of me thinks that originality isn't a characteristic of a person per se... ideas are original, but there's nothing deterministic predicting if a person will produce path-breaking research. a lot of guts to throw up ideas and the intelligence and application needed to correct them or produce more daft ones at an alarming rate until one of them is right (and in the meantime, having the right mix of self-deprecation and self-confidence to deal with evil colleagues). being around the right people and having great conversations. being in the right lab. noticing that some really useful mold is growing in your petri dish and it's not just an irritation. i guess they all play a part.

einstein's the poster-boy, because he never did go to MIT/Harvard/Princeton, but he thought up relativity in a Berne patent office. that was then and now is now though. i would like to see how i could get something published in Econometrica without the necessary credentials. (to be fair, i don't have the necessary skill thus far anyway.)

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