I was always lousy with Theory™. I still am lousy, but thankfully, it does not matter so much anymore. To be fair, I’m OK with empirical theories. It’s the big ideas stuff that throws me.
There was a Theorist™ on my PhD committee, but he seemed to be an OK geezer. Unfortunately, he and my supervisor fell out over something related to the Thing That No-one Talks About To The Present Day (nothing to do with me, I was just collateral damage). So I had to wait for my viva for six or seven months and got a little nervous over time.
The night before the viva, I had a nightmare so vivid that I remember it to the present day. I went to a public swimming pool to meet Jürgen Habermas. As you do. We were both wearing trunks, and I must sadly report that Habermas (even then not a young man) looked more overweight to me than I would have expected.
After exchanging some pleasantries and treading some water, I turned to Habermas (who was quite friendly actually), opened my mouth, and to my utter horror out came the following words:
“I must say that I think you are totally overrated Herr Habermas. Although to be fair, I cannot be sure, because I did not manage to finish even one of your books.”
I woke up in a cold sweat. Compared to that dream, the actual viva wasn’t so bad.