Monday, July 20, 2009

Existential Question

Dear Heather,
I was wondering if you have any advice for Dissertation Writers. I mean, I am writing a dissertation but NOTHING much seems to be coming to me. In fact, a LOT of nothing is coming to me. I wonder if the problem isn't my subject. You see, my subject is, well, to say it directly... my subject is nothing. I am writing about nothing; that is, again, to make it more clear, I am writing about being, which would be fine I suppose if those philosophers I am to discuss were Heidegger, or Satre, perhaps Camus. But I want to write about EM Cioran and he says it is no good to write. In fact he says when the last "illiterate" is taught to read it will be the "end of civilization"... He writes against himself, really; but if I take him seriously, and I do, he is against writing, even writing about "nothing."
What should I do?
Bewildered Grad Student,
Dallas, TX

Dear Bewildered,
You're probably not going to like this, but I'll say it anyway. I think you should change your topic. While some subjects related to nothing work out okay, as in the 1990s sitcom Seinfeld, writing a 200-page dissertation on the subject could be extremely challenging. Even though it might seem like a difficult detour right now, a change of topic could save you time & money in the end by helping you avoid a potential existential crisis and the years of therapy that goes with it. This may be hard to swallow, but I truly hope it helps.
Good luck with the writing,

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