Monday, June 16, 2008

Progress?

Not much to report, actually, but I feel the inclination--the need, even--to report something, however lame it may be. So. What's the word from Field Town, then?

Weather's been pretty nice. A couple of storms, but no flooding.

Um.

I've been reading a collection of essays that I should've read years ago, I'm sure--in fact, I think that I checked it out on more than one occasion in grad school--and it's really good: highly readable as well as intellectually engaging. I'm sure that the reason I didn't read it back in the day was that I was so heavily involved in Dissertation Shopping Mode--you know, when you're looking for support for one very specific idea/fact/theory and basically can only stand to read things that directly bear on that particular point. What I hated (but did a lot) was when I already knew what I wanted to say about a text, but I knew that someone out there must have said something similar, and would go trolling through books for a citation ("As XX has argued..."). It felt intellectually dishonest. But, well, it did the job, and I don't think that it was intellectually dishonest, exactly--just efficient. I remember doing this particularly for the brief section in chapter 5 (now chapter 2) on The Divine Comedy. Treating Dante in 10 pages meant a lot of cursoriness. And I never pretended that I was making a highly original argument; I was basically using the DC to illustrate a point, so I needed to show that I didn't think that I was the first person ever to talk about the differences between Virgil and Beatrice. Oh how I hated slogging through all the tomes of Dante research in order to find reiterations of my own fairly trivial remarks. Yech. The point is, though, that I'm not doing that right now--being done with the dissertation and all, and not really working on any major new projects (something that surely has to change before too long, but not this week), so I can read a little more broadly without worrying about how exactly such-and-such argument fits into my chapter. It's nice.

Reread chapter 5. It's not bad.

Started rereading chapter 7. I may have lost all critical faculties, but I think that it's really not bad. Like, I'm impressed as I read it. Perhaps because in my imagination this is the nightmare chapter (think of the most complicated and weirdo absurdly long 14th-c. English dream vision you know about--the pretty canonical one--the one that's in 3+ versions--yep, that's the object of study), so I'm just delighted to find that it makes a certain amount of sense. I also dedicated a whole semester to the writing of it, which might be paying off. I even have some nice sentences like, "The problem of A can be reframed as a problem of how the faculties lead--or fail to lead--X to Y." I like using the word "reframed." Ahh. Tidy prose! How I love it.

Before I get too high up on my high horse, though, I ought to confess that I've accomplished virtually none of the things on my previous to-do list, so I kinda need to get on it. All of it. Yep. Here I go. Watch me--there I am, getting ready.... Yeah, any minute now.....

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