07 May, 2014

Eight Chapters of an Academic Life, V-VI

last minute shopping
before the viva exam
do you sell hoods?

donning white bowtie
once I was the student now
I am the master

1 comment:

Hobbes said...


I am always surprised that, even coming to my university some 15 years ago, there are still items of bizarre academic dress that I don't seem to own, and which seem to be required for functions that crop up as I move through the university from student to faculty. There is a particular type of hood that I have had no call to own in the past, and which yet, when examining graduate students by viva, seems to be necessary.

Realising this at the last moment, I had a rushed "last minute shop". As you might imagine, our city has a number of tiny little oak-clad shops that seem to exist on the needs of university folk - specifically, they have made a business out of selling bizarre items of clothing to hurried people who suddenly realise that they need it.

"Oh yes, we have examination hoods in your size. Would you like silk or polyester?" A dusty drawer in an old cabinet is opened, and the mysteries of the universe unfold from within.

The student passed his examination, I'm glad to say, after three hours of grilling.


The switch from student to faculty only becomes obvious (to me) when I have to approach the viva from the other side of the table. Once, I was sitting on the "little side", all alone, my thesis in front of me, my (bizarre graduate student) gown sticking to my perspiring skin.

Now, I am on the other side of the table. I still use the same bowtie, but now, when putting it on, I hear the words of Darth Vader, from Obiwan Kenobi's final encounter, as recounted in this haiku.


The image that makes this haiga is related, in a tangential way, as is the "game" with haiga. This is a sketch from last year's main machine learning conference (NIPS), held in Lake Tahoe. The science was great, the lake was lovely, the settlement of Lake Tahoe - well, I think I've described that before. My frivolous sketches seem to act as a travel-log of their own.

Perhaps I should knock up an irreverent "haibun", my favourite variety of travel literature...