This letter was written by an experienced academic at ANU to her PhD student, who had just presented his research to a review panel and was still licking her wounds.
The student sent it to me and I thought it was a great response I asked the academic in question, and the student who received it, if I could publish it. I wish all of us could have such nuanced and thoughtfu feedback during the PhD. I hope you enjoy it.
A letter to…My PhD student after her upgradeWell you did it. You got your upgrade. But from the look on your face I could tell you thought it was a hollow victory. The professors did their job and put the boot in. I remember seeing that look in the mirror after my own viva. Why does a win in academia always have the sting of defeat?
Inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s movie ‘Spirited Away’.
A bit like a fairy tale and also a bit like a fable, I feel that there are many metaphors in Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.
Among all the metaphors, I found one of them is the hardest to understand: “Don’t forget your name!” White warned Chihiro when Chihiro just joined and started to work in Mother Tang‘s Bathhouse. Whoever will forget his/her own name? I cannot understand this until I graduated from college and started to work in a company.
I realize that one staff in a big organization will easily forget his/her name. Because the staff handles his/her part of work on behalf of a project group or the leader of the group, and finally in the name of the company. In a big company like this, the personal significance is minimal. Everyone is doing a part of the whole job in the name of the company. Therefore, the NAME of individuals will gradually be forgotten by them, after not a very long period of time.
And Chihiro’s parents eat too much without any effort put in, so they became pigs waiting to be cooked into hamburger. It sounds familiar isn’t it?
And the faceless man, I think he is like a trap generated due to too much of desires. When you have too many desires for money, for example, he will eat you.
A freelancer artist will never forget his/her name, The name is always signed with his/her work.