Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Calling me a "researcher" is just another way of saying I'm a giant nerd

Today was basically my day to completely nerd out.

First of all, I got to speak (over Skype) with Helen Hardacre this morning, which was pretty excellent.  She gave me a bunch of advice on graduate school applications (I contacted her because she's one of the people I'm looking at as a potential advisor), and also was Actually Interested in my research project, which was very exciting!  She'll apparently be coming to Nanzan in May, so hopefully I'll be able to meet her then!

Second of all, in class today we split into the "girl team" and the "boy team" to categorize different branches of pre-War Shinto philosophy, and so I got to use all those hours of reading about Yoshida Shinto and Ise Shinto and National Learning to correctly classify pretty much all of them.  (I said that Yoshida Shinto was a reverse honji suijaku type and National Learning was a shinbutsu bunri type when my advisor wanted us to say that both Yoshida Shinto and National Learning stressed the unique characteristics of Shinto and saw them as the source of all other religious traditions.)  The girl team (comprised of myself and the one other girl in the class) did much better than the boy team, in any case.

Third of all, I asked my advisor if there was a secondary library on campus, since the main college library's Shinto collection is one shelf of out-dated encyclopaedias.  He wound up taking me to the Nanzan Institute for Religious Studies' library, and I might have swooned a little bit.  SO MANY BOOKS.  And I haven't even read most of them!  (He also said that I can probably get into the closed area of the college library, where they keep all the interesting books.)
As we were heading out of the library, my advisor pulled a copy of Shinto: The Way Home off the shelf.  "Have you read this?"
I answered that I had read it.  It was one of the many (many, many, many, many) books I read for my thesis.
"The author's here; would you like to meet him?"
So I got to meet Thomas Kasulis, who was nice enough to actually sit down and talk to me about my project and grad school and what he's working on right now (which is a history of Japanese philosophy, as a companion to Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook).  When he discovered that I was working on shrines and the local community, he proceeded to introduce me to three other professors, two of whom have connections to chounaikai* and said they would be happy to talk to me.  So that was very exciting as well!  Plus, everyone's reaction to my research project wasn't "Why would you study that?" or "Oh, I'm so sorry" (the two most common reactions I get from Nanzan students) but "Wow, that's a really cool topic, and I can't think of anyone else who's worked on it!"  So that was a nice affirmation for me that what I'm working on Actually Matters.  Plus, now I have contacts!  And I know where the books are!

...basically, deep down, I am a giant nerd, and I will stay happy as long as I have books and people to talk to about academics.  I'm pretty sure it's Not Normal to prefer talking about Taoism's influence on early kami-worship to talking about The Latest Pop Culture Thing, but I don't particularly care.  I am a nerd and proud of it!
...I have a feeling that graduate school will make me absurdly happy, in some ways.  Who needs a social life when you have a library?

Also, three final notes:
1. For some reason, mosquitoes keep biting my ankles.  Or, really, my right ankle.  I have a perfect little anklet of bite marks right now.
2. While several people left excited comments about possibly microwaving mochi during Stuff Not to Microwave Night, I have to tell you that it's not particularly exciting about exploding.  I couldn't even tell that it had exploded until I took it out of the microwave and discovered that it looked as though someone had dropped a sonic rain nuke on it.**
3. This song has taken over my brain.

*Neighborhood organizations would be the Western equivalent, I suppose.

**Eheheh.  Ask your local brony for an explanation.

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