Stuff I do

by Lorenzo Piccoli


People have been starting to ask what is it that I do to make a living, exactly. I guess it is a perfectly legitimate question, even though for some reasons the way it was put never sounded quite friendly.

The answer is straightforward: I am a researcher. The temptation to qualify that sentence with an “I suppose” or a “whatever you might think” is almost overwhelming; it feels as though I just began a post with the sentence “I am very good at sex.” Unfortunately, the sex-thing will be supported by poor evidence, as I am likely to have sex with only a very small minority of you, for various reasons that we don’t need to go into here, some of them surprising, so word is unlikely to spread. On the other hand, it is proven that I am a researcher. The university which kindly offered to pay me a scholarship decided that Ph.D. students here mustn’t be called students; but, if fact, that’s what we are. Anyway. There must be an increasingly widespread belief that Ph.D. students are just a bunch of reckless spoiled scroungers; but, in fact, that’s what we are. Anyway. According to the university’s guidelines we should never qualify ourself – and never allow to be qualified as, for what matters – as students. Being encouraged to qualify myself as a researcher at least allows me to be able to answer these recurring question with something a bit more intriguing than “I am a student”; but after all I guess I will still go for the old “I make stuff up, I see people, I write and read. And, of course, I am very good at sex”.

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