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phds and Lord of the Rings (long)

This was was forwarded to me the other day as I am about to embark on such madness.
I thought it may amuse Suzi and anyone else who is doing or has done a phd.

Lord of the Rings as an allegory for the PhD.

The story starts with Frodo: a young hobbit, quite
bright, a bit dissatisfied with what he's learnt so far
and with his mates back home who just seem to want to get
jobs and settle down and drink beer. He's also very much
in awe of his tutor and mentor, the very Senior professor
Gandalf, so when Gandalf suggests he take on a short Project
for him (carrying the Ring to Rivendell), he agrees.
Frodo very quickly encounters the shadowy forces
of fear and despair which will haunt the rest of his
journey and leave permanent scars on his psyche, but he also
makes some useful friends. In particular, he spends an
evening down at the pub with Aragorn, who has been wandering the
world for many years as Gandalf's postdoc and becomes his
adviser when Gandalf isn't around.

After Frodo has completed his first project,
Gandalf (along with Head of department Elrond) proposes that
the work should be extended. He assembles a large
research group, including visiting students Gimli and Legolas,
the foreign postdoc Boromir, and several of Frodo's own
friends from his undergraduate days. Frodo agrees to tackle this
larger project, though he has mixed feelings about it.
("'I will take the Ring', he said, 'although I do not know why.'")
Very rapidly, things go wrong. First, Gandalf disappears and
has No more interaction with Frodo until everything is
over. (Frodo assumes his supervisor is dead: in fact, he's
simply found a more interesting topic and is working on
that instead.)

At his first international conference in Lorien,
Frodo is cross-examined terrifyingly by Galadriel, and
betrayed by Boromir, who is anxious to get the credit for the
work himself. Frodo cuts himself off from the rest of
his team: from now on, he will only discuss his work
with Sam, an old friend who doesn't really understand what
it's all about, but in any case is prepared to give
Frodo credit for being rather cleverer than he is. Then he
sets out towards Mordor.
The last and darkest period of Frodo's journey
clearly represents The writing-up stage, as he struggles
towards Mount Doom (submission), finding his burden
growing heavier and heavier yet more and more a part of
himself; more and more terrified of failure; plagued by the
figure of Gollum, the student who carried the Ring before
him but never wrote up and still hangs around as a
burnt-out, jealous shadow; talking less and less even to
Sam. When he submits the Ring to the fire, it is in desperate
confusion rather than with confidence, and for a while the
world seems empty. Eventually it is over: the Ring is gone,
everyone congratulates him, and for a few days he can
convince himself that his troubles are over.
But there is one more obstacle to overcome: months later,
back in the Shire, he must confront the external examiner
Saruman, an old enemy of Gandalf, who seeks to humiliate
and destroy his rival's protg. With the help of his
friends and colleagues, Frodo passes through this
ordeal, but discovers at the end that victory has no
value left for him. While his friends return to settling
down and finding jobs and starting families, Frodo remains
in limbo; finally, along with Gandalf, Elrond and many
others, he joins the brain drain across the Western ocean
to the new land beyond.

Oct. 12th, 2001

Well I have a had a fruitful few days in the West Midlands. Wednesday I went to meet the Sensing Sculpture officer at Woverhampton City Art Gallery. Had a very long chat about the project, I wrote quite a lot of notes, which is good prep for my thesis. Then I walked around their current temporary exhibition "Fluid", which is all about body fluids. There was some large photos of sick on pavement, they were abstractly beautiful in a kinda gross way. Also there was a talk by one of the artists, who had documented all the stages of his father dying from cancer, it was absolutely fascinating.

Then yesterday I went to the MAGDA (museums & galleries disability assoctiation) AGM and seminar. I took some more notes for my MA research, the talks were all relevent to what I am studying so I was v. glad I went. Also I got to do a bit of networking, I met the bloke who writes the RNIB leisure guides, so all in all a very worthwhile day.

In my lunch break I took advantage of the seminar being in the new art gallery, Walsall, & I went to see "Magnetic North" a photography exhibition from Finland. The horizon series was amazing, but I couldn't afford the catalogue cos it was 20.

Sep. 19th, 2001

I just did the cat test thingie that Smogo and Saiira wrote about. Apparently I am a snowshoe.

"The Snowshoe is gregarious and talkative. She is always ready for fun and will regularly try to instigate a game. While her strong intellect leads her to try new things, it also causes her to become easily bored when a task is mastered. Variety is truly the spice of life for this kitty! Affectionate with others, eager to interact, the Snowshoe is always the belle of the ball."

Sep. 12th, 2001

I can't believe the destruction of yesterday, whoever masterminded the operation had it very well planned and certainly knew how to exploit the lack of security within America's internal flight network.

I hope that there is compassion and understanding within the world. That people can mourn, remember, learn and rebuild. Tragedy occurs everyday, it is just that yesterday it was magnified on a gigantic scale. I hope that the terrorists have not instigated a world war which has the possibility to consume the entire planet.

Daily life seems even more trivial than normal, I feel happier now that I have sent a cheque this morning for all of my sponsor money for "Walk the Walk". I managed to raise 160 for breast cancer charities, despite me not being able to complete the walk due to hurting my foot.

Another thought for the day is; why do men, in particular "suits" take up so much room on the tube. They sit with their knees so far apart they look as if they are going to go into labour! and their broadsheet newspapers further impinge on space. Grrrrrr I feel like tieing their knees together and making them eat their newspapers.
Damn I did little work this morning due to ircing, still I hadn't been on for ages.

Today is quite relaxing, my co worker is on sick leave, I picked up a selection of Canterbury Tales for 1 (I love penguin popular classics), I intend to read the Knights tale before watching the film at the cinema and also I feel like a big grey fluffy angora rabbit in my new matching cardigan and knitted skirt.

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