Saturday, August 8, 2009

Doing a Bad Job

At the Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress (RoME) so far, most of the papers have been terrific, and the assigned commentary following each paper has been even more terrific. One notable exception: mine. Now, I am not falsely modest. I know when I do a wonderful job at something, and I leave the podium (invisibly) hugging myself. Yesterday I left the podium ready to wear a bag over my head for the rest of my life. I was giving comments on a paper that just wasn’t “my kind of paper” – it was extremely dense and theoretical, studded with zillions of long footnotes in teensy-weensy type. In retrospect, I should have contacted the conference organizers and asked them to re-assign me a paper that would be a better match for my talents and proclivities, but I didn’t want to cause them further work and hassle. So I ended up doing a bad job. In public. In front of colleagues, strangers, and friends.

Oh, it’s awful to do a bad job at something. But it happens. What to do now?

First, I’m going to make a never-again resolution. Next year, when I review papers submitted for the conference, I’m going to hand-pick a few I’m eager to comment on and insist on getting one of those. This time I was so concerned to be Miss Nice and Agreeable that I ended up being Miss Unfair to the Poor Philosopher Whose Paper I Commented On.

Second, instead of racing in this morning to hear the first two terrific papers on the program for today, I’m going to stay at home and do some things that make me feel good about myself. I’m going to post on my blog, work for an hour on revisions for a paper of my own, and prepare a first-rate introduction for Judith Jarvis Thomson, my former teacher, whom I’ll be introducing as the keynote speaker this afternoon.

And I’ll take a long walk.

And lick my wounds a bit.

And move on.

1 comment:

  1. I still think you did a great job, helping me make sense out of a very tough paper.

    Also great: "Antarctica is a good place for a boyfriend."