Enjoying a coffee with an old chum last week, he mentioned that he’d read my last blog. ‘Afraid I gave up after the first couple of sentences’, he said. ‘Went rather over my head. Might try it again when I’m feeling stronger.’
As said chum has a PhD and is on the faculty of one of our top universities, I wondered whether I should be happy or unhappy about this response. Actually that’s not quite true: I was immediately unhappy. I read my piece again and considered it both pretentious and obscure in the light of his comments. If you also found it so, I apologise.
Yet I very much enjoyed writing it. I was genuinely excited at trying to formulate some thoughts on a difficult subject which at that moment felt of real concern to me. I admit that if I had sat on the piece longer, and subjected it to some rigorous rewriting, I could probably have made it clearer and easier to read. But I was also rather revelling in playing the part of an intellectual, imagining myself heroically wrestling with tough concepts the way one might wrestle with crocodiles, and I liked the thought that I was presenting such an heroic spectacle to the outside world.
Dressing up in academic drag is great fun. But perhaps adopting such a disguise is also a way in which I can say things that I couldn’t say otherwise. Do you notice, by the way, how cleverly this is leading back to the theme of identity? I’ll let you finish the thought off for yourself.