maandag 3 april 2017
Last Friday's Walking Seminar
On the last day of March we had another Walking Seminar edition, this time on the topic When is good good enough? Although the weather was not as perfect as expected it was good enough to facilitate a good walk-talk. We walked through the beautiful dunes of Overveen. Rain and wind made this walk into a four-hour exercise of academic exchange, methodological thinking-along and body-mind stamina.
We talked about finished texts, enough work and different goods we encounter when writing; throwing out good pieces in order to better the text in general, focusing on one topic and (for now) letting go of other interesting ones and how to decide when we have done enough (fieldwork or writing). Sometimes we also talked about different goods that emerge in our field or different goods as a strategy to look at our field.
This was the topic that triggered are talks:
When is good good enough? One of the many enemies of a researcher/author is perfectionism. Obviously, we want to give good presentations, write good texts, make good films and otherwise be and do good. However, at some point striving after doing better, better and better still, turns itself against us. It may block the fluid writing of an outline and/or a first rough draft – as what comes out of your hands isn’t, you feel, good enough. It may lead to endlessly postponing the moment you invite others in to comment – as what there is to comment on is not yet good enough. It may fuel insecurity, give stress, what have you.
In secondary school you mostly got assignments with questions and these all had a right answer. You may have learned to like to feel intellectually in command. However, in doing research and engaging in original writing feeling in command is a rare event (and neither quite necessary nor even particularly desirable). How to work well without it?
In this walking seminar we encouraged each other to recognise when in our working lives the perfect is the enemy of the good and share strategies for letting go, accepting irreducible difficulties, facing our limits, for laughing, flowing and breathing. And, of course, for staying rigorous and persevering – for it is as well to also avoid falling for that other enemy – self-satisfaction.