Research Community

“It is only fitting then that I acknowledge the rich and sustaining network of friends and colleagues who have enhanced the writing of this book. Over the course of a year at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin I spent many pleasurable hours discussing Lucretius with the late Bernard Williams, whose marvelous intelligence illuminated everything that it touched. And some years later at the same wonderful Berlin institution I participated in an extraordinary Lucretius reading group that gave me the critical impetus I needed. Generously guided by two philosophers, Christoph Horn and Christof Rapp, the group. which included Horst Bredekamp, Susan James, Reinhard Meyer-Kalkus, Quentin Skinner, and Ramie Targoff, along with more occasional visitors, worked its way with exemplary care and contentiousness through the poem.”
“The Swerve” by Stephen Greenblatt

I just finished reading “The Swerve” by Stephen Greenblatt and the text above in the Acknowledgements section struck me. It shows what a research community/work group should be like — it should help you create beautiful and great works.

But what if you do not have such support?

You can be angry of not having (had) the support and feel betrayed about your scientific qualification (to quote Dimitri “Jimmie” Viner, in discussions with his flight test engineers: “Son, where did you go to school? If I were you, I’d write them and get my fucking money back.”), or you can either search for or create this support.

As a character in a Sandman comic (“graphic novel”) by Neil Gaiman said: “I think maybe hell is a place. But you don’t have to stay anywhere forever.” or to put it in another way: The devil you know is still a devil, sapping your energy and sense of purpose.

Don’t waste your life in an environment that works against you, after all, this life is all you got. Find out what you want to achieve and actively search for the environment to achieve these goals.