A while ago now, I had a conversation with a colleague about her research, the kind of conversation one might expect academics have all the time. We stood in the hallway talking about ways to answer a question, and then more about other difficulties with the long-term project, not bad difficulties, but the good difficulties of thinking through complex questions.
The sad thing was that my colleague mentioned it's the first time she's had a conversation about her research with another colleague or gotten any feedback on research in our department in literally years. Equally sadly, I haven't gotten to hold up a wall while talking about anyone's research in ages, either.
We get so busy with committee work, teaching, and so forth sometimes that we miss the trees for the forest.
I miss the times in grad school when people would actually care enough about ideas to stand around and work them over, when people had enough of a shared body of knowledge to hash over questions, and then bring forward other sorts of knowledge to advance the issue.
Flavia over at Ferule and Fescue has a recent post up about the benefits of developing blogging relationships; I think she's totally right, but I still want to stand in the hallway with a colleague, arguing genially about what critic or theorist X thinks, and how that might be of interest or problematic.
Did I lose that, or did it only ever exist in my fantasies?