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Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Those who maintain the power structures of the academy, and particularly the humanities, might reply that of course Helen Keller would say such a thing. If they didn’t say it out loud, they’d at least imply that collaboration is helpful only to those whose infirmities and weaknesses make it impossible for them to stand on their own—those people really need help. But not so in the humanities! Where we all lift our own weight, and all of us speak in our own, strong voices.
Academic life in the humanities still bears the form, if not the detail and substance, of the monastic life that shaped the modern university. Our offices and library cubicles are like cells, places to which we retreat so that we can “read, read, read, work, pray, and read again,” as the philosopher Charles Peirce put it back in 1877, quoting an old chemist’s maxim. Our graduate-school training habituates us in burying ourselves for long hours in solitary seeking, emerging only for the austere hours of communal liturgy, where most of us sit in silence while one chosen from among us stands and reads from the holy text. The main difference between us and the medieval monastics is that they, when they went into solitude, believed they were not alone. We moderns decidedly are.
After philosopher Judith Butler’s fantastic commencement address on the importance of the humanities, a lament on the crisis of collaboration and cross-disciplinary communication in the humanities from The Chronicle of Higher Education.
It seems like the humanities can learn from science where, it has been memorably noted, “successful scientists have often been people with wide interests.”(via explore-blog)
You have to completely lose yourself in something, even if you have to lose yourself in something else 45 minutes later. If you try to multitask in the classic sense of doing two things at once, what you end up doing is quasi-tasking. It’s like being with children. You have to give it your full attention for however much time you have, and then you have to give something else your full attention. The secret to multitasking is that it isn’t actually multitasking. It’s just extreme focus and organization