Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Am I "sincere"?

Actual Photo of Gypsy Scholar
Lecturing in the provinces of Korea...
(Image stolen from Wikipedia)

In my search for new employment, I have a few friends looking out for me, including a friend and professor at a top Korean university in Seoul, who tells me this:

I had several times to talk about you with a ... collegue. At least, this collegue is convinced on your academic sincerity and genius. They are preferring younger new ph. D. from the Eastern Establishment including England, I guess. A person suggested me to give you an information about a univ. in province. But I declined, because it does not match your academic sincerity. I'm also looking for a post where you can concentrate your energy to your intellectual passion with a maximal condition.
I've deleted the colleague's affiliation, which is not relevant to this post (though dismayingly relevant to my careerlessness).

As for my friend, he's Korean -- and more fluent in French than in English -- so I sometimes find myself mulling over cryptic notes that he sends my way.

Like this note above.

Since my friend spent years in France working on his dissertation, my first association to his mention of "a univ. in province" was:

"A university in Provence? Hey, I'll take it!"
Until I realized that he was referring not to a region in the land of good bread, great cheeses, and fine wines but to some provincial Korean university. No thanks. I've been there and don't intend to go back. My friend is right:

"[I]t does not match your academic sincerity."
But what does he mean by "sincerity"? Evidently, not what Koreans often mean by "sincerity," a topic upon which I've previously blogged.

I think that I understand what my friend means by my "genius," and he doesn't really mean that I'm a genius, which I'm not. He probably means that I'm "brilliant." I'm not that either, but it's nice to imagine the hypothetical case in which I would be brilliant ... or even a genius! But that would be a 'me' in some other world among those hypothesized by the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics -- a world in which I would actually understand quantum mechanics and its many implications. In this actual world, I'm blessed primarily with two gifts: willpower and endurance. And just enough intelligence to make these work for me.

But not quite enough intelligence to figure out my above-mentioned "sincerity."

So, I had to go find a Korean expert to find out what my friend meant. This Korean expert, who shares my blogging office, laughed at the "genius" label as ridiculous but did suggest that by "sincerity," my academic friend meant "seriousness." My "academic seriousness." That would make sense, for I never joke about serious academic stuff, so I thanked my treasured lady Wortschatz and got back to blogging this seriously self-referential blog.

Now if I can just find that academic "post where ... [I] can concentrate ... [my] energy to ... [my] intellectual passion with a maximal condition."


At 6:40 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

"preferring younger new"
Those words should be banished.

Been looking for another job for over a year.

At 6:48 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Alas ... no one treasures the riches of wisdom earned by hard experience.

Or maybe I'm just an old fool ... therein being the problem.

Good luck on finding a job.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someday I hope to achieve, "passion with a maximal condition," but it doesn't sound very legal...

At 7:07 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, sadly, victimless crimes are still so misunderstood...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:55 PM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

How can there be any sin in sincere?

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Kate, what are you accusing me of!

Actually, I'm looking for the cure to all sin -- a sinecure.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:40 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...

Be sincere and accept that you are brilliant. You may not be a genius, whatever that is, but you certainly have a genius. You also have a breadth of common sense that is unusual in a person with such depth of intellect.

There are some people who have remarkable capabilities, savants we often call them -- people with computational skills, people able to memorize masses of information, polyglots, polymaths, wunderkinder. These oddities just lift the skirt of human capacity ever so slightly as to reveal an appealing foot and ankle. The body of human skill is less remarkable, perhaps because it remains concealed. If, however, we allow ourselves to speculate on the hidden portion, it becomes somewhat more exciting.

Computer scientists tell us that the easiest skills to reproduce electronically are those which we as humans find most impressive, and the hardest are those which appear the most natural. For instance, artificial speech comprehension is vastly more difficult for a computer than playing chess. Likewise, the peculiar talents that we have are often not recognized by ourselves because such accomplishments have an internal aspect of ease ... and they are not recognized by others, perhaps, because no one has enough of the same talent to measure its extent in others.

The gift to see ourselves as others see us can never be given, because none of us has the capacity to see clearly. Judgments must be made, but the process is idiosyncratic and stochastic. Asteroids strike and we all get jobs eventually.

At any rate, I wish you good luck on your job search. I suspect you are very good at what you do. Your blog is certainly interesting to me.

At 4:05 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JJ, thanks for the kind words, but you really should address them to Mr. Gypsy Scholar, my alter ego, for he is the brilliant genius -- though I do occasionally wonder about his sincerity.

As a child, by the way, I was sometimes accused of having no common sense. I guess there's been some grade inflation since then...

Jeffery Hodges

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