The Illusion of Mastery

This blog entry is brought to you by my intense desire not to clean my workspace, which I badly need to do in order to make further progress on my talk for next week. It’s one of those things: I think I’m just getting on top of all these administativa and my seminar is going well, and then I take a look around my workspace and think “holy shit what a mess!”

The thing I hate about cleaning is paper. I have so much of it, and no matter how I try to organize it, it is never organized enough, there is never the right place for the right document. And so the paper accumulates and then eventually gets in the way. It’s well documented that the electronic fantasy of the paperless office has actually led to the proliferation of paper in knowledge-work work spaces, of which professors’ offices and home offices are a part.

Anyway, here’s the before picture. Take it as metonymic for my experience of September.

<p>Items of interest:</p>
<p>1.  duct tape is falling off the edge of the A/C unit.  Probably time to take it out, anyway.</p>
<p>2.  the windows you see actually span the whole length of the room and are only the bottoms of much taller windows which make it almost unbearably sunny in the morning.  Even with them down, the loft literally shines in the morning.  It’s actually very inviting when I get up, except during the summer when the sun rises earlier than I’d like to get up.</p>
<p>3.  kleenex box close at hand.  Jesus my allergies have been bothering me lately.</p>
<p>4.  the orange book is the Chicago Manual of Style, used for looking up proper discographic citation of CD</p>
<p>5.  Lesbians on Ecstasy CD on top of Chicago Manual of Style, waiting to be imported into iTunes.  No relation to discographic query.  Orange day planner on other side of kleenex box — I still prefer analogue to digital.  I am booked solid tomorrow from 10-5 with meetings.  Silver cordless phone from the mid 1990s — it looks big and clunky now, but I use the hell out of it and the battery lasts a long time.</p>
<p>6.  Papers on desk: drafts of essay on sound and time I finished revising on Sunday (currently in the hands of coauthor, to be delivered to editors at the end of the week); flight options for trips in November, three different “to do lists,” receipt for National Communication Association registration, and so on.</p>
<p>7.  Those Sennheiser headphones I got for free when I bought my radio for the office.  The sound great, and they feel really comfortable on my head.  For when I want to listen to music but can’t run the stereo for whatever reason.</p>
<p>8.  In a pile occluded by the kleenex is Aidan Evans <i>Sound Ideas</i>, a book I desperately want to read but instead just keep moving around my desk. </p>
<p>9.  Awesome 20″ monitor with browser open to <a href=The Smoking Section, which I was reading just before I decided to break the silence here. Warning: it’s exquisitely written but also pretty raw. She’s having a rough life these days.

I’ll update with an “after” picture when there is one.

One reply on “The Illusion of Mastery”

  1. allergies, man, I feel you. I have been snorting and popping things for months now. I have gone back to good old nasal rinsing. It makes me feel like a great big hippie but seems to be a relatively low impact and fairly satisfying way of managing mucus.


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