Friday, July 10, 2009

The Eye of Joy

On Wednesday we put the final touches to my AHRC nomination form. I can at last breathe a profound sigh of relief and think about the fact that I HAVE FUNDING FOR MY PhD STUDIES NEXT YEAR!!!!! I can hardly believe, after such a long time - this is the third consecutive year of applying - that I have finally been successful. I am enormously buoyed up by the whole thing and immensely grateful to all those people who have contributed their time, efforts and encouragement. I shall do my utmost to prove myself worthy of them and of the award. At last I will be able to immerse myself more fully into the academic life and feel that I am truly part of that community.

There is a part of me, however, that is very reluctant to rejoice too much: a little worm of caution gnaws at me telling me that the money isn't actually in the bank as yet, not to count my chickens etc.

This is where I appeal to that little-known 'Eye of Joy'. The 'Eye of Joy functions in much the same way as its better known talismanic cousin the 'Evil Eye'. Anyone who has been to the eastern Mediterranean cannot have failed to observe the dark blue and white symbols that are liberally on display, particularly on things like the prows of ships, or hanging from rear-view mirrors. They are to ward off the 'Evil Eye', a malevolent force that can invoked to bring misfortune to the unwary (I've got one hanging in my kitchen, brought back from Greece). Just as being unprepared can lay one open to the force of evil, so can overconfidence and the premature celebration of good luck. It is customary to receive good news with an acknowledgement that things can go awry, that events lie in God's hands and that he can withdraw a blessing as well as bestow it. The uttering of a brief apotropaic formula ensures that the expected good luck or anticipated event will materialise, and that the utterer's confidence is not misplaced. And that is what this last paragraph has hopefully ensured: that I shall receive my dosh!

No comments: