Various feelings about my thesis illustrated by Twin Peaks

Intermittent crying regarding frustration finding sources because archives are hell and horribly organized and nobody gets back to you. s1_e6_crying

Somebody suggests you might actually need help on the damn thesis but you’re feeling hostile and defensive so you ignore their advice and later collapse even though you are actually a nice person underneath it all. s1_e4_hulkingboob

Ravenous bouts of hunger that make you feel productive because at least you’re fueling your next bout of angst and guilt-filled procrastination that will end with you falling asleep reading a source at 3 am. s1_e3_omnomnom

When you think you’ve been really fucking productive but then realize how much more is left to do. s1_e2_distant_thunder

When you try to do things you enjoy like beach walks and making photographs but are consistently hounded by the reality that you’re not working on the thesis and you suck and it’s all futile and life is cold and the universe indifferent. s1_e1_sobbing

Trying to explain to your family who doesn’t really get it that this is really really hard and that all of these problems actually matter. s1_e1_ohdear

More sobbing because for some reason Andy sobbing matters a lot and feels relevant because he’s so pure and good and at one point you probably were too. s1_e1_cryingagain

At some point you’ll reach the stage where you feel cold and emotionless and more like a shell of a human. But since you have good skincare routines and a decent sartorial sense you’ll at least look decent. cooper_s1e1

 

What it feels like to write a thesis

USEFUL

Step 1: Turning in a proposal and experiencing gut-seizing fear.

You wonder “Why did I ever decide to do this?” Your emotions will revolve around a mixture of apprehension, excitement, and wanting to vomit thinking about all the RESEARCH!
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko a

Step 2: Sitting your ass down and researching.

THIS IS THE WORST! You get so mad at the world, kind of like Dictator Lukashenka, because you spend 83.9% of your time ELIMINATING sources rather than FINDING sources! Your advisor asks for “1st person sources” and you want to scream “Those are as hard to find as the rich husbands I need to fund my future doctoral degree!” (Just kidding…)

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Step 3: Realizing how weird and specific your thesis is.

By now you’ve got some semblance of data. You’re done being bitter and now you’re actually sort of excited about what you’re writing! You want to tell people and nobody really thinks it’s that interesting but you still tell them about it. You talk about it at parties and to strangers and when you pet dogs outside of coffee shops you mention it to them. You spend your nights lying awake re-organizing your outline and wondering if the coffee shop will have your favorite roast for your next hard-core thesising day.

(Also at this point the verb “to thesis” becomes a reality. You are always thesising, about to thesis, etc.)
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Step 4: You’re in too deep to give up! 

Now you should put on a false sense of bravado. Even if your adviser hates your stuff, even if you’re potentially screwed, you have to just act like everything is peachy and you’ve got it under control! (Because you totally do. Obviously. Even if most of your thesising is spent making effective study playlists…)

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Step 5: Realize how quickly the semester is going and have a single, graceful moment of panic.

You are scared s***less and you frankly have no idea how you will make it through. You might occasionally cry in Target store aisles looking for shampoo thinking about how little time you have left.

431px-Judith_mit_dem_Haupt_des_Holofernes_2Step 6: VANQUISH!

I’m not here yet. I’m still in the false bravado stage. I hope to get here and have the damn thing bound and slap it down triumphantly in the library and scream “HELL YEAH” and then erase all my favorited research links and burn all the old drafts! Then I fully plan on having a large helping of wine and cake and being sufficiently praised for my hard work (although the praise probably won’t happen).

 

Thesis Pieces

My current thesis topic is the comparison between various Spanish-Colonial Virgins from Cuzco and Mexico City.

I’m absolutely entranced by both of these pieces. The three pictures at the top are of the Virgin of Guadalupe enconchado piece (enconchado is mother-of-pearl applied directly to the canvas) by Michel Gonzalez from 1698. This style came from Japan, as the Spanish had a trading route with Japan and much of the art and furniture, although meant for Spain, ended up in Mexico!

The other three pictures are from the Virgin of Belan by a Cuzco School artist from around 1710. Obviously she is a very different depiction of the Virgin Mary- hers incorporates Incan and native symbols and styles learned and developed in Peru.

Both of these pieces are in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and I hope to see the enconchado piece! (The Virgin of Belan is not on view right now, gah!)