jamais vu (n)

jamais vu (noun), Fr. — “Often described as the opposite of déjà vu, jamais vu involves a sense of eeriness and the observer’s impression of seeing the situation for the first time, despite rationally knowing that he or she has been in the situation before. Jamais vu is sometimes associated with certain types of aphasia, amnesia, and epilepsy…” and time travel—as Rasheedah Phillips uses the device in Recurrence Plot (2014).

“Jamais vu is most commonly experienced when a person momentarily does not recognise a word or, less commonly, a person or place, that he or she knows. This can be achieved by anyone by repeatedly writing or saying a specific word out loud. After a few seconds one will often, despite knowing that it is a real word, feel as if “there’s no way it is an actual word”. The phenomenon is often grouped with déjà vu and presque vu, or tip of the tongue.”


Maslow’s Hammer (n)

A phrase coined by Abraham Maslow in his 1966 book The Psychology of Science where he described the phenomenon:

I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.

or, more popularly

“if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”

This useful phrase (read as: tool) has many applications.  But for the purposes of graduate school, it relates to the remarkable ability of blinkered graduate students to inflict themselves on any given conversation, in order to demonstrate how the topic at hand indeed relates to his/her own dissertation.  Even if it doesn’t.  And it usually doesn’t.

Related: the propensity of early-stage graduate students to inflict a particular lens (i.e., whatever new theory, or old one they happen to be most familiar with) on any, and every situation, effectively smashing any productive conversation.

Thankfully, this is usually just a phase.

Related: Alexander Pope’s Essay on Criticism:

A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.

pazienza (n)

noun. Italian.
The capacity to endure with serenity.

Which, of course, does not mean you are not internally screaming; however it is critical that you may not be outwardly screaming, or appear to be internally screaming.

ety. Latin: patientia; ultimately, Greek: pathos “suffering.”

Related: grazie.


“I accepted the revisions from my adviser with great pazienza.”


footnote (n)

footnote (noun):

1. an ancillary piece of information printed at the bottom of a page;

2. the place where writers tell you what they really think;

3. a place writers hide easter eggs, and flaunt all the research they read that wasn’t, in the end, really necessary to the article.



kodawari (n)

kodawari (拘り) or (こだわり): obsessionfixationhangupdeterminationfastidiousnesspickiness about (trait, style, etc.)

Think: Ahab, White Whales, monomania, dissertations.

It’s also related to a passion for ramen (sidenote: this is where I get my ramen), which is not unrelated.  Apparently ramen only became a major American culinary obsession in the mid-1990s, and took off when Momofuku opened in 2004.  Before that time, Ramen was considered, well, cheap instant rations necessary to the survival of scrappy starving college students. Add a healthy dose of cultural kodawari to the ol’ Cup of Noodles and what you have is a 5000% increase on the value of a bowl of ramen over the course of two decades.

This, I think, is a metaphor for what we humanities grad students strive to achieve through our kodawari with our dissertation work: the alchemical transmutation of some boring overlooked research materials into, well, something profoundly interesting and relevant.  Through our archival noodling, we quest for the golden noodle.

Another related metaphor for graduate school:


lucubrate (v)

From Latin lūcubrātus, perfect passive participle of lūcubrō (work by candlelight), from lūx (light).

“To burn the midnight oil.”

“To make a deadline.”

lucubrate (third-person singular simple present lucubratespresent participle lucubratingsimple past and past participle lucubrated)

  1. (rare) To work diligently by artificial light; to study at night.
    • 1991 December, K. Boo, “The organization woman”, in The Washington Monthly, volume 23, issue 12, page 44:
      Instead, as Oklahoma’s tenure committee lucubrated over Hill’s future, []
  2. To work or write like a scholar.
    • 1846Nathaniel Chipman, in Daniel ChipmanThe Life of Hon. Nathaniel Chipman, LL.D.p. 261,
      [] I shall not hesitate to repeat some of my former thoughts, when lucubrating upon the same subject.


1.  A piece of work that is supplementary to or a byproduct of a larger work.

2. Something that is an accessory to a main work or subject; embellishment.

3. Work undertaken in addition to one’s principal work.”
Read as: deadly distraction. Life-threatening. MENACE.
Read also as: side-job, paramour, passion project, sidechick.
(also might get you a paying job in the real world)
Plural (Parerga) are all the exciting and fascinating things, like so many sirens, beckon you off the course of your dissertation, singing so sweetly their meretricious songs, dynamically tuned to your tastes and weaknesses, urging you to smash your dissertation-ship on their rocks.
par (variant of para- as in “parallel”; = to the side) + ergos (“work”). 1595-1605.


A notably difficult to pronounce word.


ultracrepidarianism (n)

Ultracrepidarianism is the habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge.

Cf. “bloviating”;

Cf. “mansplaining”;

Cf. “fundamentally“;

Cf. “thought-try

Cf. “Marxist Glam

Cf. “prolix”

Etymology (Wiki): The term ultracrepidarian was first publicly recorded in 1819 by the essayist William Hazlitt in an open letter to William Gifford, the editor of the Quarterly Review: “You have been well called an Ultra-Crepidarian critic.” It was used again four years later in 1823, in the satire by Hazlitt’s friend Leigh Hunt, Ultra-Crepidarius: a Satire on William Gifford.

(Dictionary.com) 1800-20; ultra– + Latin crepidam ‘sole of a shoe, sandal’ (< Greek krepis ‘shoe’); in allusion to the words of Pliny the Elder ne supra crepidam sutor judicare ‘let the cobbler not judge above the sandal’; cf. the English proverb “let the cobbler stick to his last.”

decathect (v)

The word of the day for Dictionary.com, January 16, 2018.

  1. to withdraw one’s feelings of attachment from (a person, idea, or object), as in
    anticipation of a future loss: He decathected from her in order to cope with her
    impending death
    .Related to imposter syndrome.

Decathect is an extremely rare word in English, used only in Freudian psychology. It is formed from the common prefix de-, signifying privation or removal, and the very rare verb cathect “to invest emotional energy.” Cathectis a derivative of the adjective cathectic (from Greek kathektikόs “capable of holding or retaining”), from the noun káthexis “holding, possession,retention.” The English noun cathexis is an arcane translation or partial translation of Sigmund Freud’s Besetzung, a common, ordinary word in German meaning “(military) occupation, cast (of a play),” from the verb besetzen “to occupy, stock, fill.” Decathect entered English in the 20th century.