I'm trying to edit a different section of my chapter while balancing cats, a clipboard, and a computer in my lap. (Side note: I think I could complete my dissertation much faster if I only had telekinesis, as very often I am unable to dislodge the cats and get up to check a different book or get more caffeine or snacks. Being able to float my laptop or a new can of diet coke over here without getting up would help immensely.)
Unfortunately, I am stuck on a problem that I think most writers struggle with: writing is linear, and some of my concepts are not. I have a couple different passages, all of which need to be given as background to the others, which means, logically, all of them have to go first in the chapter --- like an Escher drawing or the layout of Derrida's Glas.
Unfortunately us mere cogs are not allowed to write our dissertations nonlinearly, in hypertext, multiple columns, visual productions or interpretive dance, and so therefore I need to make some choices about what comes first in my chapter. As I return to the opening section and am fixing phrases, I have an uneasy sense of deja vu: I keep moving these sections and writing next to other sections "is it clear how this passage is going back to my main argument?" with the sinking feeling that I have shuffled these same paragraphs back and forth into the same positions long before, back when I was originally sketching it out. Like trying to put magnets with the same pole together, none of these passages will let the others come before it, and their constant motion suggests that, if one could hook them up to a machine, their constant rotation would produce enough energy to heat one's home or power one's computer. But, alas, I can't get that worked out either.
(My other major problem is that I have a recurring freak-out that none of this is in any way original or worthy of being called an argument and that perhaps the whole chapter needs to be scrapped or rethought, a traumatic idea which drives me to immediately repress it and turn to fixing flow and grammar at the micro level ---- mechanical problems which can be solved but which may be rendered completely moot if said paragraph gets moved or scrapped. So you can see that the churning paragraph process within the chapter is paralleled by a churning thought movement in my brain ---- a movement that does not produce energy but instead threatens to cause my head to explode.)
Likewise, I keep highlighting, on different printouts of the same chapter, the same passages that I need to check against some historical sources, none of which are here with me (see why I need telekinesis?) and all of which, I suspect, I don't really need to check but that I can't just force myself to definitively assert that something happened one way or another, and so I can't take out the little (????) marks and italicizations that are mucking up the sentence flow.
Of course, the truly sad bit is that I can write a long blog post about the whole process (though not edit it) in a fraction of the time it takes me to dither about on this revision shit.
I know, I know, I should just shit or get off the pot ---- unbold things, slap sentences together, cut what I haven't sourced or answered and emphatically decide the direction of my argument rather than let it slap me around like this, and just hand it in to let my advisor deal with, have her say what should stay and what should go, since she's going to want me to rewrite things anyway. But I'm just not able to.
Who knew that the perfect perpetual motion machine would produce only levitation and stasis?