We just turned in a paper where we were supposed to explain selected aspects of Chinese worldview and culture and their implications for Westerners who want to live within Chinese culture, in 15 pages. But at 1am, I had 30 pages. Something had to give.
So I started clear-cutting. Whole paragraphs, nay, whole sections, sub-headers and all, 13 pages worth, representing untold hours of my recently-overly-caffeinated life, ripped out and discarded like so much pumpkin guts at a jack-o-lantern carving. It’s a feeling similar to what you get after watching TV: I want those hours of my life back! Every time I highlighted paragraphs and pressed delete… Aa! my life! it’s gone!
It’s not my fault cultural subsystems are interrelated. It just feels wrong to talk about one without talking about the others.
Of course, it’s not the first time we’ve done this, and although we only have a few papers left to go, I doubt it will be the last time. But this paper is unique. Instead of turning it in to an American university professor for grading, our practicum on-site supervisor is grading it, and he’s Chinese. We’re writing a paper that’s (supposedly) about his culture. We know we don’t know what we’re talking about, but we still have to write like we do. I hope it’s entertaining for him, anyway.