Step Back, Again

In basketball parlance, the step back is a move, not a method. If there is “research,” it is immediate—nothing protracted in the decision to make the move. I have never heard anyone refer to practiced, foreseeable basketball actions as methods. Instead: for individuals, moves, techniques, tendencies, styles; for teams, systems, plays, schemes. The step back introduces sufficient space for a shooter to send one up unobstructed (or with reduced interference from a defender who, because of the step, is now a step away). The step back creates a clearing.

For this step back to be effective, one judges by the space it established—usually a small, quickly opened space. Was it sufficient? And was it quickly enough calculated and executed to become indefensible? I want to be careful in suggesting that this step back compares neatly to the other step back. We do not on the hardwoods, say, in a pick-up game, wish to be running with anyone who noodles on, ish-talking about “did you see my step back method?” No. Time we shoot for new teams.

Step Back & Difficult Puzzle

Step back, consider how it’s going. Recline in an overpriced chair. Pause to sit on a bench outside if the weather allows. Walk. The practices of writing research and doing research thread ends into a knot, and the knot’s beginning-point and ending-point conceal themselves, each indistinguishable from the other. What researcher takes the time and care to label writing as writing and doing (otherwise, anything) as doing? Unwinding later will make for a difficult puzzle. Or else with a shrug and carry on attitude it won’t be necessary.

Memoranda from Lulls

A few anterior questions for research design: Who—individual, department or program, college, institution, field—needs to research? Why? Do research designs do more than install (strict or suggestive and flexible) rails for procedural fidelity? How much of what shows up later in a methods section is accountable to planning versus zig-zagged execution? Method’s slow way-twining of ‘above’ (meta-) and ‘along’ (-hodos) cannot at every resting beat be comparably discernible. Are research memos, then, only ever generated from a resting beat, casting a perchance motley-at-best crumbtrail?


Synaptic, the Berlant-Stewart exchanges, base 100 writing, volleys dealt in increments (or multiples thereof). For the spring grad class, maybe 90s or within five words. An 84 word blurb is not a ninety. At 96, it must reach elastic band to 180. Or 175. A ninety can be one sentence. Or up to 90 sentences. It is meant to conduct a tiered practice. At once, measured habit, self-aware; at once, expressing questions as questions or connections as connections. Woe omicron variant whispers, though, What even is teaching now?