The intensification of our IT practices may make it more difficult to take a step that went without saying: thinking from a new statement, pencil in hand. However, in the competition, calligraphy is required. Not only to copy airy, legible writing, which gives appetite and does not put off the eyes already very solicited of the correctors of the competition. But also to build backstage. One does not manage a draft, intended to guide in the final writing, as one does it, continuously, with the computer, draft which becomes the accomplished text itself.
Thinking by writing on a sheet opens very interesting possibilities, by the speed of reconciliations, the clarity of the synoptic tables. By hand, one can easily use arrows of dissociation and association, draw, schematize, that is to say, make sense to oneself what is abstract or intelligible. As the figure of the circle does for the definition of the circle.
Once the sketch on the rails, it is important to determine the imperative moment, of the passage of the draft to the copy. Thus, for a four-hour test, never devote to the draft more than an hour and a half. This leaves at least two and a half hours for copying the introduction and the conclusion, writing the development with arguments and illustrations, and proofreading which is essential.
Some of you, after having shown that the subject gave something to think about, will take pleasure in announcing all the sequences from the start, while another will need to manage some more surprising dramatization, which is nonetheless explicit and coherent. Some, to feel good in the act of writing, will need to homogenize the illustrations, or to increase the theoretical tensions.
The only non-negotiable point: never let your reader, that is to say, here, the examiner, guess alone the logic of your sequences. As much, during the year, one can have the temptation to be allusive, since one is addressing a professor whom one knows that he knows such context or such transition… In some cases, you might need a writing service to finish what you have started.
What we will note in the draft
The subject himself, in order to identify in him the equivalences, the oppositions, the presuppositions, the open, closed-form, the relations of condition to consequence. The schematic indication of what is fragile in him. There are two ways to question an apparently hermetic subject: what are its foundations, what are its consequences? This brings up, for the proposed statement, an uncertainty, or a tension. The writing of successive hypotheses that formulate and work on this uncertainty is called a dissertation.
For each of these steps, note, without writing everything down:
the anticipated pitch;
the illustration which is a particular embodiment of the thesis;
the limit without which one would not understand why the dissertation continues.
It is important to represent the dissertation as a coherent approach, in one piece, and to avoid the misunderstanding of a construction that would consist of a series of formalities.
I sometimes refer my students to the metaphor which is that which Plato, in the Parmenides, puts in the mouth of Parmenides himself: to talk is about “swimming across a vast ocean of discourse”. Knowing how to weave is a bit and even a lot like knowing how to swim: once we understand that we can lean on the water itself to better face it, we are sure to find in its resources, good landing there, possibly resting there to bounce back better…