14 May 2009

Dr. X

I've been involved in some stalking lately.

I'm stalking a lecturer in fact. Mind you, it's only mild, harmless stalking. The Google type.

Besides, this lecturer, he maintains a blog. On Blogger that is.
He's also conveniently the sole person with that good name on Facebook and Twitter. He even has his own web page.

So you see his profiles are all very public and I guess you could coin my stalking 'research'.

It begs the question though, who would do that? Stalk their own lecturer, I mean. Unless they were infatuated...
Please believe me, I'm not. Not a single attraction there. No, it's something else altogether. I've a one track mind about a novella concept that I've toyed with for over a year. And well...let me explain.

I have my reason for being interested in this guy.

What fascinates me is his psychology research interests.
They are frighteningly similar to mine: the neuroscience of social behavior, studies on intergroup relations and prejudice, psychophysiology of emotions... It's disturbing. Disturbing it is, because in addition to this similarity, according to his blog, he seems to show a vivid interest in film analysis, music [lyrics] and culture. It aroused my curiosity instantly because these are the two areas that I've focused on in the last 5 years: film studies and psychology. Meanwhile, because of my background, I have also had an almost personal (arrogant) interest in culture and intergroup relations. Finally in my blog, I often present lyrics and lyrics translations. So overall, my intuitive gut feel when I viewed his blog, is that we must share a common outlook on the world, at least in some ways. I realise he's much more educated and that his blog is a wealth of well integrated research on many subjects that I'm mostly ignorant about. Still, I maintain that there are common interests.

As an aside, the combination film/psychology is not unusual, not only in terms of personal interests but also in the creative industry.
For example, I've read of many successful writers and directors who had studied psychology (note the distinction: they are psychology graduates, not 'psychologists'). The french thriller "Hidden" was written by psychology graduate Michael Haneke. And beyond this, film analysis does borrow from psychoanalysis.

I'm digressing. So this lecturer shares some of my interests. So what. This similarity shouldn't be given salience. I mean many people also like cinema and music so why shouldn't any old social neuroscientist also enjoy watching and analysing film and posting music lyrics? What's so curious about them if they do?

Why, you ask? Because this lecturer gave me full marks in my psychophysiology proposal. That's the scary proposal I wrote recently and which I mention here. This guy gave me full marks for a 40% third year psychology assignment. Far out, I've never had that happen to me. How does that happen?

I'm modest but still, I honestly don't think it was the best work I ever did. Ok, I liked it, but that's only because I love that research subject, I still gasped when I saw my mark and wondered whether there had been an oversight. Maybe because I have mildly low self-esteem, I've been attributing the mark to something else (alongside my hard work). I think, having considered everything, that he must have really liked the proposal, that it struck a common chord there and that he felt good (understood?) reading it. Of course he did, it's the type of work he enjoys and it was well written, I might add. I noticed he made a mention in happy red (red ink can often look angry... but that was happy red) that his lab was looking at similar issues. I was excited to know that. Very excited.

If, one day, I need professional feedback for the concepts in my novella, I will turn to him. I know he would be thrilled. He likes science fiction. Right now, though, I'm too shy. So I prefer to remain incognito for a while.

Maybe I could even make him into a character in my novella.
I'll call him Dr. X.

In one of his Blog posts, my lecturer laments the lack of academic references to his research papers by researchers whose work he values and who he wishes would also find interest in his own material. He communicates that he often feels that he doesn't exist and that all the work he has done in the last 15 years has been for nothing.

That post was written last year so hopefully he got over those dark thoughts since then. Either way, it made me very sad. I could not reconcile that someone whose professional work and values I put on the highest pedestal, could somehow feel, even in a moment of online melancholy, that they didn't exist.

Anyway Dr. X, don't worry. I'll make you eternal.

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