Whenever I sit down to try to write this, one of two things happens. Either the piece becomes a form of reﬂective journaling that it would be too selfindulgent to publish, or the piece gets too clever for its own good, as I pluck vignettes from my life and then force them to support a point I want to make about who I think I am as a scholar. I think that the problem comes, at least for me, from the eﬀort to use my own biography as raw material for a piece of critical social science. I seem to have too much wrapped up in the outcome of any such eﬀort to actually do in this case what Weber advised: be “devoted only to the subject,” and let the analysis play out in surprising ways. I can surprise myself by living my life, but not when I try to social-scientiﬁcally explain my academic vocation. So instead of trying to produce a systematic empirical account of myself as
a scholar and teacher, I’m just going to tell stories. Three of them: one about Star Wars, one about the Catholic Church, and one about my autistic son. I’m not going to try to draw any explicit connections between those stories and my scholarly vocation, since that’s where things always felt the most forced in my previous failed attempts to produce a contribution to this project. I’m telling these three stories because when I think about trying to tell other people about what drives and delights me, these are what come to mind. I don’t see or experience my life as dominated by a desire to change the world; if I’m being honest with myself, my actual passions, whether as a scholar or just as a human being, involve speculative ﬁction, the pursuit of knowledge, and the opportunity to teach. These stories focus on those themes. It’s not that I don’t get pissed oﬀ at things or don’t wish that the world were diﬀerent sometimes – but if I’m being really honest with myself I will have to say that unlike a lot of people in this ﬁeld I don’t get anywhere near as impassioned about injustice and oppression and discrimination as I do about people misusing the philosophy of science to close down scholarly debates or the statement that underneath my son’s autism is a “real, normal” boy who can’t get out. In many ways I couldn’t care less what countries do in their foreign relations, except inasmuch as it provides interesting occasions for conceptual reﬁnement and the asking of diﬃcult questions highlighting uncomfortable facts. Why I’m in IR is, to my mind, almost completely the
result of random happenstance – except that while that makes for a defensible empirical explanation, it doesn’t make for a very meaningful story. So as I said, I’m just going to tell stories. What you do with them is up to
you. Maybe they help to clarify something about my scholarly vocation; maybe they don’t.