Friday, December 02, 2011

Gratitude Memetics (Part I)

For some time now, in the world of academia, some academics have taken to tracing their 'academic descent' — who their doctoral supervisor was, who their supervisor's supervisor was, and so on until you reach the earliest recorded node. The doctoral thesis is an interesting carrier of this memetic record because it is normally the defining moment of the typical academic life.

Strictly speaking, the doctoral dissertation is a meme. A really good one will propagate itself while evolving into a book, a roadshow, a seminar, a conference, and eventually perhaps an institution of its own. As it propagates itself through the citation/reference system, thorough the cells known as journals, in the wombs known as committees, they infect the human race for good or for ill.

Today however, I was just content to be looking at the master's thesis a former student of mine submitted, in the field of theatre. What really made my day was when this student told me how, when speaking to colleagues about goals and ambitions, memories of me would emerge. Those colleagues would then be treated to a short spiel on how my teaching was an eye-opener and something worthy of emulation.

I was speechless. And very, very grateful. We who are confident, positive personalities sometimes look as if we don't need kindness, or that nice words and memories are superfluous to our requirements. But we're human too, and I felt good, and I thanked this ex-student from the bottom of my miserable heart.

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