我为什么读博士 – Why am I writing a PhD?

对于一个已经不年轻的人来说,再去读个博士的确是个艰难的决定,尤其作为学生离开教室已经接近20个年头时再要硬着头皮复习迎考,然后花费几年时间少者三年多者五六年完成博士论文。并且在作出这个决定前,还必须做好充分的心理准备在就读过程中抵制多种诱惑,比如经济价值高的建筑设计项目。此外也需要做好准备花费大量的时间阅读和补课,弥补多年来的不读书不看报,孤陋寡闻。再有就是准备涉及的课题,在读之前就要对未来的博士论文课题有个基本的认识和向往。面对这一系列的挑战,要跨出那一步是不易的。
其实早在2000年时就曾准备攻读博士学位,但是因为种种原因而一拖再拖,终于有一天我的老师对我说他准备次年退休,你还年轻,应该读个博士。这才又一次唤起了我的念头,也许这是我读博士的其中一个原因。但是另外一个更重要的原因或许人们会觉得不可思议,那就是为了给我的孩子一个勤奋、毅力的榜样的力量。那时孩子在语文课上做一道造句练习“一。。。。。。就。。。。。。”,孩子的造句是这么做的“我爸爸一有空就玩电脑!”当我在他的练习本子上看到那句话后起先一惊,继而陷入沉思。我将给孩子一个什么样的形象?这是需要我认真思考的。我的确一有空就坐在电脑前,但是绝非游戏,而是绘图、写作、填表、整理材料等等,当然有时也经常会在网上下一盘围棋或者四国大战,还有令人兴奋的红色警报和挖地雷。然而一个小学生不会懂得需要电脑完成工作,而且偶然他看到我还真的是在下棋,有时还和他用不同电脑对下几盘。因此给孩子留下这种感觉和印象也很正常。但是为了给孩子一个好父亲的印象,我必须改变这种在孩子眼里颓废无聊不求上进的形象。那么,高龄再去读个博士将会是一种说服力。自然,在之后的复习迎考过程中我的刻苦精神,以及后来撰写博士论文时的异乎寻常的勤奋和劳累,终于改变了孩子对我的看法,树立了光辉伟大的榜样。此外,我读博士的还有一个原因也许有点虚荣,那就是在名片上可以印上PhD,那会觉得很荣耀。不过现在假冒伪劣博士多如牛毛,估计那个PhD也贬值甚至起到相反作用。(此处因考虑有人的情绪作修改,顺便也把相关留言删除,请谅解。不过现在的理由同样也是真实的,只是排序在较后一些而已。)
不要以为这些原因是玩笑,而是我真实的想法。当然博士学位会带来额外的作用,不过这并不是我所最关心的。在一种貌似非主流和不体面的理由驱动下的读博行为,却带给了我快乐。当经过十多年的日夜赶图、为柴米油盐而四处奔波,没有思考的可能,也没有时间思考,之后,能够静下心来再次走近课堂听课,躲进图书馆看书,暗夜探究奋笔,那种生活状态所带来的愉悦是难以形容的,非切身体验者无法理解和体会。
当然我的这种攻读博士学位的理由和目的不具有广谱性,因为我没有就业的压力也不为生存所迫。然而就是这种让人觉得有点荒唐的想法却使我的整个读书和学位论文过程都显得很轻松,老师的宽容又使我能够选择自己一直在思考且早已有所准备的课题。可以这样说,我是带着问题和研究方向来读博士的,并且从一开始博士论文内容的大半已经成形。
离开了课堂很久之后,当我再次走进课堂后夹杂在小朋友之中,有种获得重生的神奇感觉。很多知识对于我来说是曾相似但是仍然具有新鲜感。比如我知道了城市建筑学的罗西原来还是个后现代主义分子,盖里的美术馆原来可以被人嘲讽为受到梦露裙子的启发。即使是一堂政治课,我也会认真地听讲。期末政治开卷考试,坐在我旁边的同学统统沾光,我可以快捷准确的找到每个问题的第几页第几行。
事实上没有树立“正确”的学习目的性并不影响我读书的热情,读着读着我渐渐忘记了起初的理由,而是沉浸在研究和学习的快乐中。那段时间,院图里翻阅杂志书刊年纪最大的人大概是我,小朋友经常会看到一个白发苍苍的人占着外文书刊部位的整张桌子,又是拍照又是扫描。在大学的图书馆里,我有时会花费一整天就是为了在似垃圾堆一样的书库中寻找一个证据,或者找到一句引用的原始出处。痴迷于研究的惯性导致我后来看到绝大部分的拥挤建筑现象都会不自觉地联想到我的研究方向,然后进行一番深入分析和考据。当然,也渐渐地明确了“正确”学习目的性,那便是至少能在这个领域里说得上几句研究经验,为日益拥挤的环境提供一些寻找空间的方法,为需要空间的人们找到一些出路。整三年时间便完成了博士论文写作并答辩通过。而最近在做的一项公益设计活动,其实也是我研究内容的具体实践和运用,很欣慰。
未读博士之前以为如只想成为一名建筑师,本科或硕士已经足够。但是如果把读博士不当作功利,而是依据自己爱好或思考的内容做点比较系统和深入的整理,那么是会有所收获的,且最终使得自己的设计更有理由,独特的理由。

For someone who is no longer so young, to contemplate studying a PhD is a difficult decision. As someone who hasn’t been in a classroom for nearly 20 years, to put your head down to pass the entrance exam is no easy feat, and then you must spend 3 to 6 years before you finish. Also, before making this decision, you must mentally prepare not to be tempted by distractions such as lucrative architectural projects. In addition, there is all the time spent reading and in lectures, and the preparation necessary to compensate many years of not studying and being out of the loop of current events. You need to prepare a relevant topic for your thesis, and have a basic understanding and direction before studying. It is difficult to face these challenges.

In fact, from as early as 2000, I’ve been planning to write a PhD, but I dragged my feet for many reasons. Finally, my teacher said to me he is preparing to retire and that I’m still young and should do a PhD. This re-ignited my desire and may be one of the reasons I’ve decided to do a PhD. But perhaps a more important reason, that people may find hard to believe, is to provide a diligent, determined role model for my child. At the time, my child was writing sentences in Chinese class including the sentence: “Once… then…”. My child wrote the sentence: “Once my Dad is free, he plays on the computer.” I was shocked when I saw this sentence and lapsed into deep contemplation. What kind of impression have I given to my child? This requires some serious thinking. I definitely sit in front of the computer when I’m free, not playing games, but drawing, writing, doing ad hoc work, etc. Of course, sometimes I do go to the internet or play Chinese chess and online games, including exciting red alarms and minesweeper. At the time, he was a primary school student, he was not able to undertstand the need for a cimputer to finish his work. Sometimes, I even played a couple of games of chess with him using the computer. Because of this, it left the child with the feeling and impression that this was very normal. however, in order to give my child a good influence as a father, I had to change his bored, uninspired perception. I went back to school as I got older to demonstrate this. Studying diligently for my exam and writing my thesis, although exhausting, finally changed my child’s point of view and served as a model that hard work can achieve great things. Additionally, there was another reason I got my PhD, that was vanity: I get to put PhD on my business card, how cool is that! However, there are a lot of fake PhDs out there, I reckon this is diluting the significance of having a PhD.(Here, considering the feelings of some people, I have made some modifications, and incidentally, I also got rid of the ‘contact me’ option, I hope you will understand).

I don’t want to imply that these reasons are a joke, it’s really how I feel. Of course, the PhD degree will have an additional use, but it’s not my greatest concern. Studying a PhD for apparently uncommon and possibly shameful reasons still brings me great happiness. After ten years of working night and day under pressure, and running around for daily necessities, where thinking was not possible, and there was no time to think, after that, the possibly to calm down and get into a lecture hall again, hide in the library to read, and spend the night holding a pen, I can’t describe the kind of pleasure this kind of life brings to me, and those who haven’t experienced it themselves can’t understand and appreciate.

Of course, my reason for studying a PhD is not common because I don’t have the pressure of looking for a job or earning a living. However, this odd way of thinking made he process of learning and writing my thesis more relaxing. Because my supervisor gave me the freedom to choose a topic which I had been reflecting on for a while and was prepared for. In other words, I’m doing a PhD with my own research questions and in my own field. Moreover, most of the thesis is already developed from the start.

I haven’t been to university for a while. When I return to the classroom among young people, it makes me feel amazing, as if I was reborn. Most of the things I learn are like old acquaintances, but still like new. For instance, I learnt that the urban architect Rossi was part of the post-modernist movement, and that Gehry’s Museum was mocked as being inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s skirt. I listen carefully even if it’s only a politics class. In the final open-book exam, the student sitting next to me gets ‘extra benefits’, because I can find out the pages which contain the correct information not only quickly but also accurately.

In fact, not having a ‘proper’ goal for studying did not affect my enthusiasm. As I started reading and reading, I forgot my initial motive, but immersed myself in the joy of researching and learning. During that time, I was probably the oldest person reading books and magazines in the library. The little children would often see a white-haired old man with his tables covered with foreign books, and photographs, and scans. In the university library, I would sometimes spend a whole day looking for evidence in books that were like piles of garbage, or to check the original source of a reference. 痴迷于研究的惯性导致我后来看到绝大部分的拥挤建筑现象都会不自觉地联想到我的研究方向,然后进行一番深入分析和考据。Of course, gradually clarifying the purpose of the study, 那便是至少能在这个领域里说得上几句研究经验,为日益拥挤的环境提供一些寻找空间的方法,为需要空间的人们找到一些出路。整三年时间便完成了博士论文写作并答辩通过。And in a recent series of public service design activities, I actually put into practice what I’d been researching – that made me very happy!

Before doing a PhD, I thought that if you want to be an architect, an undergraduate or a Masters’ degree is enough. But if a PhD does not serve a utilitarian function, but the possibility to conduct systematic and in-depth thinking on a subject of interest does have its fruit, and will ultimately make your designs more justified – more distinctly justified.

4 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

julien.leyrereply
March 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm

This translation was completed during a Marco Polo Project translation workshop held in Melbourne on March 2nd 2013.
I would like to thank participants here for their contributions:
1st/2nd paragraph: Gareth Durrant, Xin Hua, Christine Lai, Steven Liu
3rd paragraph: Sherry, Chris, Alex
4th/5th paragraph: Ada Jia, Cyrus Leung, Lisa Wang

Marco Polo Project Newsletter #8 | The Marco Polo Projectreply
April 29, 2013 at 9:51 am

[…] In our first two workshops, we translated this text about friends having small children, and this text about starting a PhD late in […]

匠之道reply
June 1, 2013 at 12:36 am

我尝试翻译下:Extending from being obsessed with the studying promotes me to take the vast majority of the phenomenon to be related to my research target while I am confronted with the congestion of architecture, which I am accustomed to analyzing and verifying.痴迷于研究的惯性导致我后来看到绝大部分的拥挤建筑现象都会不自觉地联想到我的研究方向,然后进行一番深入分析和考据。

与哲世界reply
June 4, 2013 at 12:00 am

中文的我看过,这里的英文稿翻译的非常好,很贴近原文中文。无论是内容、含义、还是韵味、语气和幽默,都非常贴近。赞!

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