i appreciate that various colleagues want me to stop making statements, especially in public, that are self-deprecating. i hear them, and i am honored that they see me in ways that compel them to urge me to avoid doubt. it's always such good adivce, it seems, at the time.
so i'm thinking about why i do it, especially given that i am fairly confident in the work that i do. i love my writing. i seriously love my writing -- labrynthine and rambling and full of pauses and ellipses and questions and doubts and lack of clarity (although i like some of the more polished stuff too). i LOVE my presentations (and agonize over them, seeing the live performance as Serious Intellectual Work for a rhetor). I am in love with mylittlefilms (and the whole process of imagining, discovering, making and delivering them). I am more than pleased with my teaching style, my mentoring work, and lots of other aspects of my (professional) self. BUT i don't believe that i could/can say any of that with any sincerity or confidence without also articulating (not just recognizing, but articulating) the various forces -- even, or especially the negative or uncertain ones -- that drive me and coalesce in ways that sometimes, often maybe, end up as confirmation or validation.
that is, to aritculate one's doubts about one's work is an important part of it; don't we sort of teach this when we ask students to publicly and in social networks share their doubts, assumptions, biases, preconceived and emerging ideas about their own work? isn't this what our own peer review process is at least in part about? isn't this at least part of what it means to engage intellectually?
yes, it's performance. yes. and so we must finally articulate with confidence. but. really? always? speaking only for myself, i'd much rather read a piece of writing or see a film or hear an artist admit to its own pomposity or weakness than to experience one that consistently asserts with absolute and unwavering authority (like the white paper recently released at my institution . . . seriously - our administration is now using "white papers" to share with us their sense of our intellectual work. help!).
and still. i'm the one who sits watching film awards shows just begging the winners to say something pithy and neat and inspiring (Helen Mirren is very good at this) and not, ala Halle Berry, to thank one's lawyers (omg) when accepting for a moving performance on a complex cultural plane of experience (participation, performance, spectation . . . moves made as a film actor representing a complicated human drama).
i continue to think about/worry this matter. at the same time, i'm negotiating my stance with regard to self-deprecation, still seeing it as part of (the) iterative processes of emergence and becoming. and i think it's p-r-i-t-t-y groovy.