23 April 2007

Further reflections on ancient history

When I was thrown out at the end of my ruined education, my only concern was how to get back as quickly as possible into an academic career that could lead to a Professorship, so that I could have the sort of life and social identity that I needed to have.

The DPhil which turned into a BLitt which I did with the grant from Trinity College did not lead to any way of re-entering a career. Professor H H Price was, actually, no more on my side than anyone else and made no attempt to help me do the sort of thing that they would have been forced to recognise, nor to suggest any ways in which I could get to be regarded as qualified for appointments in physiology, psychology or philosophy.

It should be observed that I got the Trinity College studentship very early on in my time at the SPR, less than a year after arriving there. Hostility towards me had been building up at the SPR throughout the writing of the thesis, and by the end of it there was little left of the initial reactions in my favour.

At the end of the BLitt thesis Professor Price did not help me to access sources of finance for developing any of the lines of research suggested in the thesis or, of course, any other research in any field which might have led to career advancement. I said to him that if a BLitt was no use for re-entering an academic career, as appeared to be the case, I would need to work towards re-entry by getting further qualifications, so how could I work for a D.Sc. He said that a D.Sc. was not something you worked for, but was given on the basis of your published work. This left me with an impasse. Would it be possible, outside of an academic career, to get one’s work published? I did not even bother to ask him, nor whether he had any suggestions for obtaining funding to do the work that might enable me to re-enter a career.

Rosalind Heywood ensured that all sources of funding, both personal and institutional, were closed against me, and I was soon condemned to doing tedious and futile work with a stroboscope in Oxford in circumstances in which it was impossible to increase my savings, although I strenuously defended my small capital from erosion except by deliberate expenditure on fundraising to discomfort Salter and Sir George. Nor was it possible to regard the work being done as of any use for academic career progression, either my own or that of anyone associated with me.

I had only two aims in life at that grim time, and everything I did was directed towards them; one was academic career progression and the other financial build-up, that also being necessary in working towards restoring myself to tolerable circumstances. Until I could get back into a hotel environment as provided by a residential college, I had to work towards building up money to provide myself with the equivalent of such an environment outside of a residential college.

Rosalind and all concerned were forcing me to enact, in the grimmest way possible, their preferred fiction that I was pursuing what ‘interested’ me instead of money, since they would not accept that I was debarred from the only sort of career I could have, and I could not get money by any sort of paid employment for which I was regarded as eligible. Which, as I have said before, also meant that I could not, and never have been able to, apply for what they call ‘social support’, which would not have gone far towards providing me with adequate living circumstances even if I had been eligible for it.

Unfortunately, my supposed ‘supporters’, Sir George and Salter, knew how much money I had managed to save while I was at the SPR; I don’t suppose they were discreet about it. Most of it went into buying my first small house, and no doubt all and sundry thought that if I was squeezed badly enough, I would get into debt, as other people probably would have done, and be forced to sell the house. Then I would have been totally destitute again, as they wished me to be and thought I should be.

Fabian has noticed people commenting about my blog and website that I have a very grim, or dark, view of life. They might consider that this arises from the fact that I have always been placed in the grimmest and darkest of circumstances that the machinations of other people could devise.

Exceptional ability, as I have said before, arouses hostility, and an exceptionally able person needs commensurate social status and recognition to keep such hostility at bay. It was fatal for me not to take the School Certificate exam at 13, and to go on from there with the rapid acquisition of qualifications which I had planned for myself.

I went to the SPR with the terrible handicap of a total lack of the academic qualifications and appointments which would have been necessary to avert direct hostility and opposition.