Cem Komen

Sentiments are comfortable but sound arguments require humility. Dimas Muhammad opinion in the Jakarta Post on the omnibus bill (Feb 19) proves the former but not the latter. His frame of analysis is not only extremely flaw but also, unfortunately, negligence. The problem with Dimas Muhammad’s article is not his position towards the bill but his train of thoughts. Economists, law experts, researchers, and journalists already discuss the bill more constructively. The Jakpost guide on the bill by Esther Samboh is a useful reference for readers who want to know more. Thus, this response does not discuss the omnibus bill because the core of Dimas’s writing is not about the bill but false compliance of making a sound opinion. It merely takes careful reading to see that his opinion and his frame of thinking is idle.

In the first two paragraphs, he cited an article in the New York Times, written by Nicholas Kristoff to raise a strange sentiment about jobless people. Kristoff’s piece, however, must be read in caution because he is not necessarily apparent on why people in Phnom Penh scavenging at the garbage dump. However, the author used the piece arbitrarily as an invitation to think that probably working in a factory is a dream for jobless people. Maybe he forgot that the title of Kristoff’s article is not “Where Factories Are a Dream” but “Where Sweatshops Are a Dream.” Change the words into “Where Factories with Low-wages and Bad Working Environment Are a Dream,” then a question appears: is it a dream or because there are not so many choices?

The author then continues his writing by putting the bill “in perspective.” What he means by “perspective” is the bill’s normative aim to reform the 2003 Labor Law. It is true. The omnibus bill is drafted to serve such a purpose. But in the next paragraph, he is baffled when mentioning a survey saying that “60 percent of Indonesians supported the bill.” Readers may question which survey he refers and by whom but more importantly, what kind of “perspective” he wants to convey? That the majority of people agree with the bill? The survey result is highly contentious and one must treat it with extra care. Instead of asking who are these 60 percent of Indonesians and how the survey works, he insists to using such flaw results as a “perspective.” I believe he is aware of the limit of the survey but retaining such narrative proves an inadvertence.

The article then invites readers to see the bill not “exclusively on its labor rules.” He then continues with a question of whether the bill is anti-labor. He answers it by saying that the bill remains covering some benefit schemes. It is strange that he asks readers to see the bill as a whole but cherry-picking the bill contents. If the author wants to see the bill less “exclusively on its labor rules,” he then should include, for instance, other regulations and laws on labor, the politics behind the bill, and the shady bureaucratic process of drafting. A piece of bill document is not a whole; it is a fraction of something bigger.

Further, he discusses the condition of the regional/global labor market. He uses data from 2015 to 2018 to expose the Indonesian status of labor productivity compared to Vietnam. His reading, however, is overly simplistic. He writes, “our workers are too expensive but not productive enough” without a doubt or a single question, why does it so at the very first place. He then implies with another sentiment that the voices of the victims of factory relocation are “often unheard” in the debate about the bill. It is misleading. Labor unions and activists have discussed this issue for years. Perhaps the author does not listen enough.

The author continues to discuss the importance of labor rule changes to attract investment. However, he omits the fact that the problem of investment in Indonesia is never about the labor regulation per se but also about regulation and environment for doing business. While he refers to the 2015 World Bank Enterprise surveys, he forgot to mention that according to the survey, the top obstacles for private firms in everyday operations are informal competitions, tax rates, political instability, and licensing. The way he read the survey by the Japanese company is too narrow as well. The whole survey mentions that the business confidence of Japanese-affiliated companies slowed down in almost all countries/regions.

The attempts to see the limit of the omnibus bill is appreciated. The author sees how the omnibus bill is necessary but not sufficient. Industrial policies must be in place as well. However, a question is raised. What is necessary, the omnibus bill itself or a real reform in labor regulation? Making an implication that the omnibus bill is the “reformation” Indonesia needs to improve its foreign investment is teleological. A growing threat of business relocation is one thing but a threat to human dignity is more than a thing. We can name a few of it: health and safety, inclusion to women and our rights including during monthly period and pregnancy, environmental rights, fair wage and pension, rights to unionized.

While demand for a fair analysis is understandable, hiding behind the faux moderate narrative of “don’t be too emotional” and nationalistic jargons only creates a chain of loopholes and erroneous inquiries.

Lunar New Year

It used to be about the economic storm of the 1930: how people respond to the crisis, especially the Chinese in Java. I didn’t know why the Chinese popped up. Maybe because they owned small-middle business. It was an intuition, I was too ignorant. Social history is not my fort but I respect testaments. So, memoirs should be great sources, I thought again. Worldcat then helps me to find dozen of titles, of first-person memoirs, of memories left in written words. Then I arrived at Tjamboek Berdoeri. Ah, a giant intellectual once searched him for decades – thanks to him I knew the thorny whip as Kwee Thiam Tjing. So I looked at Thiam Tjing’s writings too. This guy was hilarious but maybe there is something more. I don’t fully trust a narrative overglossing reality. I looked. And looked. Scanning newspapers, reading his words. I delve deeper. And now I’m lost in the middle of cobweb that I have avoided for almost all my life: the story of Chinese Indonesians.

your pecinan neighbor

A classmate said to me once, “Thank god your mother is tenglang. If she’s not, my mother would not allow me to come to your place.” I stayed silent. My mother is not Chinese. She is a Javanese from Sidoarjo, East Java. But people think she looks like one. Or maybe because my father is Chinese, so people assume she is too. I never bother to explain to people about my mom, although I know some people are not necessarily racist but merely curious.

There are a lot of rules. If you see someone older (but not too old) and they’re Chinese call them “koh” or “cik” but if they’re not Chinese call them “mas” or “mbak”; if you’re not sure, call them “kak.” In elementary school, it looked easier: most of my schoolmates and seniors are Chinese. In junior and high school, it got harder. Once I went to university, I barely used cik/koh outside the church.

I still remember many remarks about my outside appearance. “Really? You don’t look like Chinese.” “You look sooo Chinese.” But I never really bother to take it seriously. I feel safe when I’m not declaring “I’m Chinese,” I feel safe when I’m declaring “I’m Chinese.” Ethnic card is useful for me everytime I need comfort in social relations. Pragmatic.

I never really know why I particularly avoided the history of Chinese Indonesians. I felt reluctant. My father’s stories about his childhood in Madura, Jember, and around is enough for me to see how hard it is strolling around cities, scavanging chances, scrapping for life. He is lucky. His family is lucky. His love of math and God allows him to survive. So I thought being a Chinese descendent is already enough to understand what does it mean being a minority with all of its problems and conflicts. The burden of history has been weighed within our existence. I was wrong.

I’m trying to redeem my ignorance: reading as much as possible, studying it, writing about it. I see historians of Chinese Indonesians, academic and public, have done a lot of things in the development of scholarship – more than half-century of scholarship, covering hundreds of years of history. One camp celebrates heroic narratives, one camp uses critical approaches, one camp offers more complex nuance. The body of knowledge is rich. But the storm comes for me. A feel of bitterness lingers, creating a big question I’m not sure how to articulate. The history of Chinese Indonesians overwhelms me, a kid who once didn’t bother about manifesting descendent/lineage/blood/heritage. They say knowing history makes you wiser. It makes me blue.

Maybe someday I will find a better way and becoming a better person to understand all of this. Maybe someday I will know how to resolve the tension of being a person labeled as minority but want to escape from its complex. A pressure to understand self-positioning in a society makes one lost. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m just too overthinking it, maybe I was trapped in my own way to stay safe, maybe it’s only a projection of my survivorship bias, maybe i just miss my family, or maybe I’m too privileged to even say something like this. History, where is thy greatness?

On Reading History: An Attempt

Disclaimer: A bit sotoy.

A couple of years ago, I found X, an emerging Indonesian historian, citing a small part of Quentin Skinner’s Vision of Politics, Volume 1: Regarding Method. X cites Skinner’s book (specifically page 57) to say something about the importance of historians to study and interprets canon classical texts. He also includes the notion of “fundamental concepts” and “abiding concepts.” I was puzzled. I was not sure if that is Skinnerian thinking. I checked the page, and turns out I’m not entirely wrong. Indeed, Skinner writes those things, but in the next paragraph (still in the same page) he writes, “These are the assumptions I wish to question, criticise and if possible discredit in what follows.” I doubt he checks the footnotes, because the part he cited is actually full of footnotes referring to other writers. X’s citation is, I’m sorry to say, a bit of sloppy. But this problem actually makes me think about an issue bigger than a mere problem of inaccuracy: it is about the way we read.

A professor once corrected me for reading a book incorrectly. She said that we, historians and scholars in training, must be careful to pass judgment with due diligence. Since then, I’ve tried to be cautious about everything I read, to not take out things from books to confirm my assumptions or opinions; to re-visit each argument and self-challenge it. Reading academic works of history this way is (exhaustingly) difficult. Yet, at this point, I appreciate her correction. It’s not that she blatantly said I’m wrong, wrong, but she wants me to be more aware and improve my sense of reading. I know I’m still a newbie in history, but from that experience and some talk sessions with my supervisor and colleagues, I currently have at least three steps of reading history books.

First, reading the content. When we read the introduction of a history book, we can find almost everything: the background, research inquiries, arguments, methods, and summary of each chapter. But sometimes, we can find along the way that the book’s purpose exposed in the introduction is not always achieved. This can mean two things: the writers cannot meet their own initial objectives or they stretch their arguments. Either way, I, as a reader, must identify the overall argument from the book, its scholarly contribution, sources and approaches the writer uses, and following questions.

Second, reading the form. In other words, it is about making assessments of the chapter/sub-chapter structure, the book cover (important!!), the layout of list and figures (is there a map? is the chart readable?), the editorial intervention, and the writing style. These elements actually push me to be more careful. For example, if the writers use a lot of passive sentences, what does it mean? Either they are bad writers with not so good editor, or the actual subjects of the actions are not easily identified; things just … happened. Another example is me and my supervisor share a view that Rudolf Mrazek’s argument on Engineers of Happy Land, regarding the experience of modernity, lies in his writing style (mosaic-like/Kafkaesque).

Third, reading the writers. This is a step that requires extra googling and reading, as I have to find their previous school, their current job, their mentor, and sometimes their personal life. This step really helps to make sense their concerns and inquiries, and leads to deeper engagement with the era they live in.

This is what I want to discuss more: how does the way we read the form of a book and the writer can actually help us to read and understand the content.

The first example is about the form of a book, in which I focus on writing style.

Skinner’s writing style in Vision of Politics Volume 1 is complicated. Thematically wise, as he deals with the methodology of intellectual history/history of ideas, he heavily engages with hermeneutics, with many touches on the theory of speech act and rationality. (It is already difficult in itself). Skinner is actually good on structuring his chapter and paragraphs, and his choices of words are not necessarily hellish. But his sentences are quite long and difficult to follow as the layers of their structure are not always smoothly bridged. He likes to make summaries of others’ arguments and, in the middle of explaining it, he intervenes.

I think a bit of awareness of Skinner’s style is important for us to read the content, and gradually understand his arguments and proposals. It is easy to slip away from Skinner’s main points if we only look for keywords and quotable sentences. Some books have great quotable sign-posts and analytical/argumentative paragraphs, which help time-bounded readers saving their reading hours. But I’m not sure if Vision of Politics Volume 1 is that kind of book. As a result, I read sentences with no pronouns more carefully and pay more attention to the middle of the paragraph.

my neighbor’s doggo because he’s adorable

Another example relates to the writer.

Ong Hok Ham is big. His name, at least among Indonesian(ist) academic/intellectual circle, is too big to be unknown, too influential to be ignored. But I never read his academic works until recently. (I did actually imagine some senior historians said to me that I don’t deserve doing history because I haven’t read Ong’s works. Maybe it’s just on my mind, or maybe it’s not. Overthinking alert! Wee-woo-wee-woo-wee-woo). With such ignorance, Peter Carey’s prologue and David Reeve’s essay in the translation version of Ong’s dissertation, Madiun dalam Kemelut Sejarah (Madiun in the Chaos of History), help me. They personally know Ong, his life and works. Their own academic works also, to many extents, intersect with Ong. David Reeve, with some historians, writes Ong’s biography. Goenawan Mohamad also puts some words on Ong in his collection of essays in Tempo magazine, Wahyu yang Hilang, Negeri yang Guncang (The Lost Revelation, the Shaken Land). Ong’s student, Andi Achdian, too writes a memoir of him. Danang T. P. dedicates his thesis to observe and analyzed Ong’s writings and his historical inquiries. These people definitely know Ong better. First ingredient: Ong’s biography and his personae in the eyes of their fellow historians, mentee, and another researcher.

In his book, Reeve writes, “History is about people, not structures, systems or institutions. He [Ong] said that human experience is rich, too rich to be handled by a single methodology. Increasingly he said: ‘Take a significant individual who is under stress. Follow what happens to that person. That is history.'” Second ingredient: Ong’s view on what is history.

With these, at least, two ingredients (which can be extended further), I read Madiun with caution (at one point, a bit anxiety lol). I will not repeat what others have talked about the book. I just want to add: with his strong view on human experiences, he puts labor relations in top of land relations. The book mainly covers two types of “worker”–priyayi and peasant–in which he tells the internal dynamic of each type and their cross-interactions, with Dutch colonial as the third element. Ong, in detail, explains the mobility of these groups, telling ironies and tragedies of some individuals within the continuities and changes of society. His historical people were actually “trapped” in the structure of either traditional, colonial, or the transitional system. After all, his supervisor, Harry Benda, is the one who proposed the structure of Southeast Asian history. (I wonder if, in the English version, Ong uses the word “desideratum” as many as Benda. Uehehe). Moreover, if we put Ong’s profile as an intellectual of his generation, we can see how Madiun also echoes the anxiety of his generation; a generation that went through a series of war, survived up to Soeharto’s regime and became its “critical counterpart” through their intellectual pens.

Capek uga yak ngetik beginian. Bleh.

This is only a brief example of the way of reading history books. In the end, each person has their own ways. But my final takeout: read in discipline does matter, to not only read and take things out of the books because it’s authoritative and important but also to read and treat them with care. Well, at least, when citing things, make sure we read the next paragraph. Demikian.

i don’t read the way i want but i do

meja aing

i have to find an argument (or arguments) between the lines.
either being mind-blown or agitated,
convinced or flooded with doubt.
make a review or response,
or a review of responses.
quoting, citing, re-phrasing,
tadi penulisnya bilang apa ya?
do i really understand?
someone misread the history of Hindia-Timur Belanda.

i run out post-it flags.
i do not know how to use it,
it is in almost every pages.
on my defense, kayanya semua poinnya penting.
look, i use a pencil to underline those important phrases,
asterisks, stars, exclamation marks, question marks.
it was an unpleasant *but still important* conversation.
why incorporate “jellyfish”?
why two vis-a-vis in one paragraph?
desiderata/desideratum, iconoclastic, diabolic artfulness.
i should get more coffee.

book memos are pregnant,
nine pages.
well, i should put the details of each chapter.
i get it, i have to be concise.
i cannot, i am trying.
i should take care of gunseikan, gunseibu, gunshireibu.
what about kenpeitai and bukanfu and bunkajin?
i need to rest, nonton Ariana.

the EndNote is full of groups:
paper – seminar 01, paper – seminar 02, final paper.
footnotes[1], see White-male-historian, Narrative Title of Academic Book
(US/UK cities: Ivy-League/OxBridge University Press, god-knows-it-was-decades-ago).
yes. it is chicago-style, like a deep-dish pizza full of cheese.
sometimes i ibid.
i read this book very close, you know,
and those pages cannot put their own selves in a paper.
oh shit, kebanyakan kutipan, where is my say?

trying to read slowly,
in a patchy manner,
or sometimes in a constant move.
those phrases are crafts.
structured elegantly, mostly,
to revive the janus face of reality.
reading with qualm,
what’s truth whose truth.

time is up,
i should finish my work.



On-going Process

I’m not in a full PhD program yet, but shifting discipline certainly requires more works. These “more works” including, first, trying to be more orderly. I’m proud of myself for being able to sit for hours in front of my laptop and organize my files and folders. If you look at my reference library on history, you will agree that I’m pretty much neat. Gee, I have a standardized file naming for books/articles and review articles. I also utilize online drive as my working space, in case I don’t have my laptop and should work on another device. I recently start to separate my self-scanned archives collection as well, and making a database document to list them so it won’t get scattered and will be easy for me to find them. Plus, I catalogue my academic books and stamped them so they won’t get lost (which is also convenient for borrowers to not mix their books with mine).

But my office desk is still pretty messy. Every time I clean it up and organize books and stationaries, it gets messy again after several hours. Physical books, printed articles, some non-fragile archives, pens, cups, notebooks, snacks. I know I should work on that, but I also realize that my desk represents my working habit. Organizing files and folders is one thing, but when it comes to reading and writing, I’m a fucking mess.

Of course I reflect back to the time when I was working on my master paper assignments and thesis. Gee in fact, I never have proper notes on what I read. I had several notebooks for me to write lectures and points on books/articles, but it scattered. I didn’t have a proper system to help me synthetizing arguments and recording my own take outs, which is very important for literature review. I tended to be more prepared during analysis by making a coded database from primary sources, but still, I juggled. I didn’t develop a rigorous mechanism that can help me to write efficiently.

I’m trying to change that.


My supervisor gives a recipe to be organized on reading by writing a one-page (double side) memo with important information about the book. On one side, the memo should provide key argument, contributions, flaws or critiques, sources used, and future works. On the other side, I should write the timeline. He says that this memo should help me to record books I’ve read and will extremely useful for later comprehension exams (it’s a long way to go huaaah). So, I tried to do the memo thing during my fall quarter which was not a smooth process. I was struggled in class, as I didn’t know how to read history books or writing a response paper about it. I became reluctant and unenthusiastic. I even didn’t write memo of some books because I didn’t feel like writing one.

But during the winter break, when I started to read more stuffs for my research, I become more consistent with the memo. I look at my colleagues’ memos to learn the way they read and take notes as well as modify the memo by giving additional details like quotes or review responses. I also realize that I don’t have to be immensely rigid about it, e.g., treating books like all of them are similarly super important for me. It’s okay to be selective, as long as I’m consistent with my interest. For example, I should write a memo on Suzanne Moon’s Technology and Ethical Idealism more rigorously than write a memo on David Armitage’s Civil Wars (though this one is intriguing for intellectual history). In short, I’m trying to be diligent with the memo.

Another attempt to be more organized (which I would like to apply from this week) is by making a plan and activities log. Mbosque Pepe is good on making plan for reading and writing. By making allocation of hours dedicated for reading, she has a daily schedule and tries to stick with it. I modify her method by creating a log which I should update weekly and daily. It is a simple log. Every Sunday night, I will list what I should read and write for the next week on detail: the title of the book/journals, the progress of a paper, any deadline, numbers of words, etc, including allocation of hours for each activity. Then every night before closing my laptop, I will write everything I did during the day. This includes how many chapters of books I manage to read, how many words of writing, what discussion or meeting I attend or administration things I do. Something like that. My intention is to be more discipline in working, and I hope, it could make me more relax and not always feeling guilty for being “unproductive.” (Something like, “Hey self, I have one class and one discussion today. I’m already doing things although my reading is not yet finished, so chill!”).

It is not easy to manage one-self, especially when I know I’m not good at managing my own erratic behavior. I certainly cannot be like my father, who managed to finish his PhD after eight damn years on his 50s by always working late and juggling with his day-to-day work at church. I don’t have his energy and endurance. Nonetheless, I’m aspired with his perseverance. I think his hard working habit, which does not always end in satisfaction, affects me that much. (Maybe another story on him later).

So, yeah, let’s do this.

PS: If anyone interested to find academic tips and strategies (reading, writing, research, making resume and doing interview, etc.) this blog by Dr. Raul Pacheco and The Professor is In by Dr. Karen Kelsky is superb awesoooooooommmmmeeeeeeeee!

Usaha Kecil Untuk Menjadi Sedikit Bahagia

Hari makin pendek, juga tidak ada absen dari peluk guling kencang-kencang atau bantal yang basah karena air mata. Sungguh satu tahun yang naik turun, bulan-bulan kelam, dan menit-menit penuh kesesakan. Buku dan manga memang mencerahkan, tetapi ada satu titik di mana semuanya terasa hambar dan yang bisa saya lakukan hanyalah tidur sebanyak-banyaknya. Klise sekali sebenarnya memanggil potongan-potongan memori satu tahun terakhir, tetapi pikiran saya saat ini hanya berisi hal-hal soal membaca. Mungkin tulisan ini adalah usaha kecil untuk kembali menyemangati diri betapa lekatnya menit-menit saya dengan membaca dan rasa nyaman yang sering muncul karenanya. Ya, ini usaha kecil untuk menjadi sedikit bahagia di hampir akhir 2018, seperti ibuprofen 800 gram yang dibutuhkan pada hari pertama menstruasi.


Jakarta panas seperti biasa. Malam itu, saya sedang bosan dengan novel dan cerpen. Terlalu banyak kata-kata membuat saya beberapa kali tersesat di dalamnya. “Kamu lagi baca manga apa?” Sebuah pertanyaan biasa yang beberapa kali saya ajukan ke Bram karena dia lebih fasih soal komik. The Promised Neverland–cerita soal manusia versus non-manusia yang tidak asing jika terekspos dengan Attack on Titan atau Tokyo Ghoul. Baru beberapa hari lalu saya membaca episode paling terbaru, perlahan tabir soal Minerva sang penyelamat itu muncul. Percayalah, episode itu langsung memunculkan kecurigaan yang familiar soal arah plot. Konspirasi model apa lagi yang akan muncul?

Di tengah minggu-minggu membaca The Promised Neverland, saya pernah melempar sebuah buku dari tempat tidur. Kura-Kura Berjanggut. Lemparan itu tidak kencang, tapi cukup membuat buku tebal itu berbalik. Sembilan ratus halaman dan saya berakhir dengan perasaan janggal yang tidak ada hubungannya dengan kisah kerajaan Lamuri dan hamparan samudera raya abad enambelasan itu. Sesaat itu juga saya bertanya-tanya soal reservasi waktu, energi, dan fokus yang tidak mudah; dan apakah masih mungkin membaca novel-novel semacam (dan sepanjang) ini di tahun-tahun ke depan? Sial.

“Ku memutuskan binge reading Osamu Dazai waktu winter break,” kata saya kepada seorang teman di penghujung bulan. Judul-judul buku Dazai sudah bertengger di daftar saya selama berbulan-bulan, di antara nama-nama penulis Jepang lainnya. Sepertinya saya sedikit terlambat, karena rasa suka lama yang dipendam bertahun-tahun tidak mudah untuk dibuka kembali tanpa menjadi pahit. “Ananda Eunike memiliki kemampuan untuk menempuh jurusan bahasa dan sastra,” kata tes bakat dan minat sembilan tahun yang lalu. Semester kedua tahun pertama kuliah, setelah pulang dari kelas Bahasa Jepang di kampus, saya menelepon papa menangis-nangis ingin pindah jurusan. Tentu berakhir dengan gelar sarjana politik dan keputusan-keputusan konformis berikutnya; seperti sebuah panggilan untuk bertahan hidup. Mungkin menjadi tahu apa yang kita inginkan sejak dini adalah kemewahan. “Now [s]he is standing here, balancing the weight of unfulfilled dreams with what [s]he has lost.” Kobo Abe sejenis tepat.

Apa itu sejarah? Bla bla bla bla bla. Ah narasi Walter Johson di buku Soul by Soul bagus sekali, juga The Straight State-nya Margot Canaday. Oh ingat tidak semua orang bisa seperti William Cronon yang seminar papernya bisa (berkembang) menjadi buku. Saya suka cerita kerajaan nyamuk dan nyamuk yang “berbicara.” Tidakkah sejarah pembentukan hukum pelarangan vodoux di Haiti dapat masuk sebagai sejarah sains? Kamu perlu baca Boeke dan Furnivall. Apa itu sejarah? Bagaimana sejarah? Kapan sejarah? Perhaps i’m reading it wrong and i have writing issue. Cerita Menocchio seperti cerita detektif. Distribusi beras pasca kemerdekaan sungguh menegangkan. “A man,” tulis Tuong Vu, “thinking with a Japanese head but walking with Javanese legs.” Tidakkah keinginan kita memahami kenyataan, entah di masa lampau pun sekarang, membutuhkan serangkaian usaha yang sistematis? Saya tidak tahu harus mulai dari mana kecuali dari membaca.

Reading as an act of desperation. Reading as an act of discipline. Maka jika ada rasa-rasa senang yang tersisa dari membaca, sedikit saja, sepertinya cukup. Apakah ini meromantisasi? Apakah banyak cara yang berusaha saya lakukan untuk menjadi pembaca (lebih) baik pada akhirnya menuju nihil karena toh apalah arti menjadi pembaca? Langkah-langkah penuh gairah dan semangat dalam mengerjakan sesuatu seringkali terbentur oleh kondisi-kondisi lain, baik itu yang acak maupun terstruktur. Maka jika memang saya harus kembali mengklaim bahwa saya menyayangi membaca–demi tahun-tahun ke depan yang lebih bersemangat (juga waras)–saya memilih untuk membisikkan kata-kata Qiu Miaojin. Love prudently, love realistically.

Apapun Itulah

It’s been a while.

Saya seharusnya tidak menulis ini, karena menulis dalam keadaan sedih hanya menuntun kita pada kata-kata nir-makna. Contohnya, nir nir apa yang peri di majalah Bobo? Nirmala. Ehe. Entahlah ya mengapa saya harus menulis racauan-racauan semacam ini. Saya cuman lagi memikirkan banyak hal sebelum kembali berbenah isi kepala. #MenundaAdalahHidup.

1. Inikah kelemahan?

Kata orang, jatuh di lubang yang sama itu kecelakaan, tapi jatuh di lubang yang sama untuk ketiga atau keempat kalinya adalah kegoblokan. Mungkin kalau di atas kepala kita bisa ada identifikasi kata sifat yang paling akurat, kepala saya akan melambungkan kata “tolol banget.” Ada dua alasan. Pertama, saya membuat lubang celaka itu sendiri. Kedua, saya menjatuhkan diri ke dalamnya berkali-kali. Hahaha. Ini tidak ada hubungannya dengan orang lain, karena pada akhirnya kekuatan untuk memilihlah yang membuat saya atau juga misalnya Anda dapat beranjak keluar dari lubang itu, syukur-syukur mampu menutupnya juga. Eh ya namanya bebal ya (juga lemah), jadi perlu usaha lebih keras. Help, tulung agung!

supaya postingannya bagus dikit

2. Mencari Cara

Kejernihan berpikir adalah kemewahan. Ketika terlalu banyak informasi yang harus diserap, rasa-rasanya menjadi rapi dalam berpikir dan tidak menjadi panik adalah kebutuhan hakiki. Mulailah kita membuat catatan, menulis lebih rapi lagi, menyusun log system sesuai kebutuhan, mencatat jadwal, dan membuat rencana kerja. Ketika semua itu sudah dilakukan, kita merasa sedikit tenang dan pikir kita, “Wah sepertinya aku bisa bekerja dengan lebih tertata.” Lalu keletihan datang, rasa sedih yang tidak tahu bagaimana bisa hadir. Swa-apresiasi yang selalu kita pahami dalam wacana (dan seharusnya bisa dilakukan) seperti musnah dari perbendaharaan kata. Kita mulai mencari-cari apa yang salah; terobsesi pada hal-hal kecil yang seharusnya bisa diperbaiki, seperti “mungkin seharusnya aku memakai baju merah agar lebih bersemangat” atau “harusnya aku membeli sereal gandum ketimbang jagung.” Sepertinya kita harus terus mencari cara.

3. Penumbra Cahaya Akademik

“Sudah dapet gelar S-2 kan harusnya ABCD” atau “Kamu itu kuliah jauh-jauh harusnya punya tanggung jawab EFGH untuk pengetahuan.” Halah! Romantisisme naif terhadap intelektual dan akademisi cuman angan-angan heroisme belaka. Ndak ada bedanya dengan para aktivis dan praktisi pembangunan yang bersembunyi di balik intensi baik dan narasi “memberikan kontribusi.” Ditambah lagi, mencaci tidak adanya pemikiran kritis di tengah masyarakat atau menjunjung tinggi kemurnian pengetahuan “saintifik” tapi bermalas-malasan untuk memahami kritik atau koreksi yang turut hadir. Bicara soal pentingnya publikasi (artikel jurnal maupun buku) dan produk-produk pengetahuan melalui proses formal arus utama tanpa sungguh menantang ketidakberimbangan dalam praktik realitasnya, cuma membawa kita pada debat-debat normatif (seperti ambisi muluk “Indonesia perlu school of thought”). Kita tidak serius beralih ke, meminjam istilah Saskia Sassen, “penumbra cahaya” pengetahuan. Alih-alih cuma peduli pada produktivitas demi status internasional, bisakah kita pun melihat area bayang di luar silaunya cahaya lampu akademik itu? Saya akan menutup bagian ini dengan mengatakan sekali lagi: “HALAH!” pada mereka yang wow-sungguh-kreatif-aku-terpukau dalam melihat produksi pengetahuan.

4. Menutup dengan demikian

Yak saya harus kembali bersih-bersih isi kepala. Ahoy!