Today, I was exploring the eBook version of Fred Shapiro’s (2006) The Yale Book of Quotations (Yale University Press), trying to verify that oft-used William Gibson quote, “the future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed”. A sleuth blogger, Quote Investigator, indicated it was poorly documented and so it seems to be. But it was not entirely wasted time. While I was in there, I found this delightful quote, by Daniel Dennett, U.S. philosopher (1942– ), which gave me a big laugh on this grey day:
The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task, it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn’t need its brain anymore so it eats it! (It’s rather like getting tenure.)
Consciousness Explained, ch. 7 (1991)
Sometimes I do feel like a sea squirt, but it is also worth noting that sometimes our ‘spots’ do change on us. Every academic home I’ve ever had has either disappeared or been amalgamated in some way during my time. Charles Sturt University’s School of IT and School of Science and Technology (from my days as a spatial scientist) are no more, each collapsed into other multi-campus schools, and ANU’s beloved CRES (Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies) amalgamated with another unit and became the Fenner School of Environment and Society as I transitioned from PhD to postdoc. There are always debates over where such interdisciplinary environmental or geography units ‘fit’ in the university, and that conversation has been ongoing at Dalhousie, too. SRES, where I am now, is about to be picked up and moved to another faculty, like when my son moves rocks on the seashore that have creatures in residence. Hopefully we don’t get left high and dry.