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03 October 2010

Ikebana Practice

Tim Morton has been sharing his hard-won wisdom for getting that elusive academic job (here, here and here).  He says that the process of presenting yourself, whether in a proposal, interview, elevator, or othewise, should be thought of as a work of art - like Ikebana flower arranging, specifically, the three principles of which he outlines as:
1) Heaven.
2) Earth.
3) Child. (What happens when heaven and earth have sex)
In other words:
As members of the hiring committee we need to know:
1) what the big picture is in your work
2) how you did it (ethnography, close reading, exploring ideas x, y, z, history...)
3) ONE discovery/original conclusion 
I suspect this applies just as well to getting accepted into graduate school, though, lacking a substantial body of work, it might come out sounding a bit more nebulous.  Anyway, since I'm working on writing applications for my Doctorate, I thought I might give Ikebana a try.

1) I'm interested in bridging gaps between different groups, and increasing democratic participation in decision making processes.
2) I've done ethnographic research on environmental controversies including coal power plant construction, and the Las Vegas water grab.
3) I've found that the ethnographer is often in a unique position to bring different and divergent groups together, to facilitate communication, and help construct viable and sustainable solutions.

Is that too much?  Should I be more specific?  Less specific?  I definitely need to think more about how I would explain it further once I've said it - something I need to focus on now, since I'm writing proposals for all of these applications.  Any suggestions for how to refine this would be appreciated - particularly from those who are familiar with the grad student review process.


Timothy Morton said...

That's great actually. Heaven and Earth are very good. Heaven should be a little bit smaller than Earth. That feels right. Child should be more specific. One example of that kind of facilitation.

Yours, the flower arranger

Jeremy Trombley said...

Thanks, Tim! How about this:

1) I'm interested in methods for increasing democratic participation in environmental decision making.

2) I've done ethnographic research on environmental controversies including coal power plant construction in rural Kansas, and the Las Vegas water grab.

3) I found that using field visits to traditional cultural properties in the Great Basin region helped bring BLM employees and Tribe members together to work out problems and develop a shared understanding of the sites and what would be required for their protection.

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