by Carson Reynolds

A week ago I wrote the following to Rosalind Picard, my PhD advisor:


I’ve a proposal for you. As my time here at MLE is quickly drawing to a close, I’ve been thinking about the quality of work I’ve done at MIT versus the quality of work I’ve been doing here. It seems that the environment here is much more agreeable to my style of work and I think it’s led to an increase in creative output. When I first arrived at the lab for my master’s it seemed like I was constantly coming up with new ideas. As the last few years have progressed this seemed less and less the case. However, the change of scenery seems to be making a corresponding change in the rate with which I’ve been conceiving new things.

I also seem to have some skills that are complementary to what Gary’s group is working on these days. I’ve started some collaborations with people at UCD and despite my heavy load of reading have been making modest progress on different projects. I understand that Tristan Jehan from Todd’s group is over here for the entire year working for Sile’s group. Similarly, I would like to propose extending my visit with Gary’s group for another semester.

Ultimately though, this probably has less to do with the proximate causes of rehabilitated creativity and a good fit. The ultimate cause for all of this is most directly related to my personal happiness. The life I’ve found here provides me a profound sort of solace after some very rough times. I don’t know if it’s fair to argue that I should choose one sort of life over another because it is more graceful or comfortable. But I’ve found creativity’s fickle nature is closely linked to these qualities.

I will of course be returning soon for Christmas and then my oral exams. Soon thereafter I’d like to start working on my thesis proposal. It seems that this is something that could be as easily executed here as there. If you think this is a possible path, I would very much like to return here and see where this style of life leads me.



Nothing’s certain, but it looks like I’ll get another shot at life in Europe. It feels bittersweet to come back and full of presentiment to not return. But maybe I should wander farther?

Thank god some people bother to document their lives, because god knows if things were left to me I wouldn’t take a single picture or write a single postcard. Joëlle keeps a visual diary of her life in Dublin. She quietly snapped pictures of all of us our lives unfurled. If it were not for her I wouldn’t have any pictures of Robby or the friends I’ve made here during my recuperation.