i've decided to keep a journal just so i can writer the various ideas and theories and notes that occur to me as i begin university again. it's been a while (two years, actually) since i finished my honours degree. my mind has become dusty, cobwebbed, no ones footprints to be found. i'm a bit worried that any ability i had to engage in debate of the academic nature has been lost. (it was never looked after.) so part of the reason to have this journal is so that i can write down the various things as they occur to me, and if i am vastly wrong or need some sort of direction, then one of the lovely people reading this would be so kind to point me in the right direction. or just engage in dialogue.
i begun my phd a few weeks ago, when i decided that enrolling early to beat the rush would be a good idea. i could be sitting around reading books, watching movies, and complaining about no money. eventually i would have enrolled and people would have demanded things from me, but i could have delayed this. because i am basically a slacker, this is naturally what i prefer.
but it is not what i did. i enrolled: they gave me a card, i met the head of the english department, and now i am working. somewhat.
my phd is in a work of fiction. as with all fiction based things in academia, there is a discourse behind it, which is just one of those things you have that happens. like children, old age, taxes, and the inability of the media to be an independent tool--it's best just to not look too hard at it, swallow, and go on. of course, i am being unfair: academic work is much more preferable to sitting through the evening news and supposed current affairs programs.
anyhow. where was i?
my aim for this phd is to create a giant sprawling portrait of sydney: every race, age, sexuality, and anything else that is part of it. music, books, sport, crime, death, birth, marriage. name it. in the back of my head i have this painting (which doesn't exist and unless i paint, won't) but this painting is a huge thing, covers a large white wall. on this painting are hundreds of people, ranging from children, to old people in death beds. a giant sprawl of people, all looking outwards.
i want to give all these people a voice, and thus, in doing so, provide a portrait of sydney.
and yes, a university is letting me. ain't life grand? part of me wants to take them aside and tell them that i'm not really into the academic lifestyle, and i just don't want a full time job. but you know, that's probably not true. at least seventy five percent of it isn't. after all, i began doing this stuff on sydney two years ago. you may have seen a pamphlet called the urban sprawl project. if you didn't, don't feel too left out: it was a localised thing given out in the suburbs of sydney that they were based. it was free. it was a barely noticed.
but the urban sprawl project was where i began my wanting to show a vision of sydney. i stopped doing it because i couldn't afford it, and if someone wants to offer me, N. and C. millions to start doing it again, then please do. reactions to it were fairly non existent, but then that's not why you do that sort of stuff.
at any rate, for better or worse, this is what i am doing my phd is. if i survive the year, much less the full three or four, is completely up from grabs. there is some question to if i have it in me, but only time will tell. this journal is... well, it's a journal of all this phdness. it will run why i am doing the phd. it will be updated every couple of days, with interesting or not so interesting information. i promise nothing.
i am someone who likes to encourage debate. (or at least conversation.) if you've got something that you think might be interesting for me, such as a place in sydney, a view on sydney, whatever, drop it towards me. if you've read any interesting books on sydney, let me know. if you've read any books that present a city in an interesting way, let me know. same goes for movies, poems, whatever. i've left the option for comments and you can email me because, well, basically because i am creating a portrait of sydney, of people in a city.
and people in a city--any city--have voices.
a few extra notes about this journal:
this isn't one of those blood and guts exploration of myself. if you're looking for what i spend my days doing, who i am fucking, what my regrets in life are, you won't find them here. i'm an essentially private person, who is amazingly boring. (i am a phd student after all. that doesn't exactly scream vodka, cocaine, women, men, and parties in which midgets walk around with a bowl filled with drugs on their head, does it now?) i'm going to aim to keep it interesting, but this isn't The Real World or any other derivative.
second. if you happen to appear in my mentioning here, i'm just going to assume your privacy and call you something else. my supervisors for my phd, for example, will be known as A. and B. (i was tempted with B1 and B2 but really, do i want to start with the pop culture references right now? hrm. i might. but of course, they might be insulted by this and they do seem like good folks, so lets not.)
third. my name really is ben peek. that much, at least, is true.
fourth. this journal might wander every now and then. it won't stay on the phd business all the time. i might just decide to rant. i rant pretty well. rants could be things like Why Don't We Hear The Name Osama Bin Laden Anymore? or, to be more localised in australia, Who Cares What The Old Fart Said, Is Anyone Noticing That The Whole Government Lied To Us About Children Being Thrown Overboard Is Being Overshadowed By This? Don't Call For The Old Farts Retirement, As He Represents Nothing. Call For Howard To Step Down! Out With Howard! and so on and so forth. but i will try to keep them to the minimum. it's just that this livejournal thing is so easy.
introduction is over, i think. probably for the best. do i have quote to send us out on? no. i'll spare you all.