The sun has set on the Social Sciences Building. After a slow arc across the afternoon sky - a guillotine yawning wide - it's crashed down with dizzying speed. I'm losing time, again, but I'm not giving up.
Yes, metaphors of guillotines come to mind when deadlines loom - fear of a post-deadline Reign of Terror chopping the heads of a thousand of wasted moments. I'm trying to finish a grant proposal by next Monday, and am I worried? Let's say my neck is tingling. In the meantime, I'm getting a lot of much needed organization done and odds and ends straightened out. (I want to acknowledge the apropos comments of Jeremy who has his own deadline. Obviously, blogging is another pre-deadline distraction.)
I'm not spending all of my time procrastinating. Much of my time is spent staring earnestly into this little screen trying to craft the just-right sentence or phrase before moving on to the next. It's a slow affair. What I need is a guillotine dangling over me, reflecting the blood of earlier victims and the immediacy of my predicament. Frankly, I find it difficult to imagine how anyone gets work done without a guillotine around. I should have one right here on my desk - head-sized - but I fear that inevitable awkward moment when my students drop in on my office hours. Why not keep it in the drawer? Not as immediate that way, is it? In fact, I have had guillotines many times before and they just ended up in a drawer, filed away between the color-coordinated stationary and alphabetized recipes. No, it's important to see your guillotine, to feel it, to have to face it, every day, every minute.
As I'm thinking about beheadings, I'm reminded of another great mind who lost his head - Maximilien Robespierre, his words remarkably prescient today:
"Terror is only justice that is prompt, severe, and inflexible."