Monday, September 21, 2009

Dammit, I found another ref

Well I finished this book, the one that I have started three separate times and has taken me years to finally get through. And ---- I found a big nosepicking scene.* Not a climactic, lynchpin-type scene that turns the whole plot, but, still, a big and pretty significant one. I could indeed do a profitable reading of it. Sigh. Now I guess I have to think about whether I put it into the book. I could, I guess, potentially pair it with a couple other texts by the same class of person, or maybe with some different texts, organized thematically, on nosepicking and drunkenness, which I have idly considered as a chapter topic at one point. I have some vague swirling ideas that I can tell could become an argument and make an important point, but it is all just smoke and vagueness at this point. And since almost all of my essays and chapters start out as vague and stupid ideas that doesn't mean anything much. It's all about revising it into some sort of shape later.

I guess the good news is that I now know it is there and no one can surprise ambush me with its presence at some job talk or conference presentation. I was going to say that the problem with writing about this text is that it sucks, but, unfortunately, it did some really artistic and complicated things at the end that brought together all the themes from before. No, the problem with this text is just that I can't stand it. It is so damn long and boring! I know I could write a good article/chapter thingy on it, but I don't really want to if that involves rereading the damn thing, particularly if I have to reread it as much as I usually do reread novels I write about.

I am shocked to admit that my mom was ever right, but, she is right: she once told me that in arts and literature there are "firsts" and there are "bests," and that sometimes we read works for their historical significance rather than their artistic worth ---- and you know it is kinda surprising that my mom, who hates fiction and is rather proud of being anti-intellectual in some ways, came up with something like that. But really, yeah --- as I start digging down into my authors' oeuvres, having read their most famous and most canonical works and then moved on to their unpublished or juvenile works or the texts they were later embarrassed by, yeah there really is something to the first/best thing. This text is historically significant, an early first, a recovered text. I was hoping to have something to assign to undergraduates but by about 30 pages in (the first and second tries) it was clear that they did not need to have this inflicted upon them. It is so damn boring! And unpleasant! And nothing happens! But that could be me ---- as I like things to have complex plots and patternings and draw me on through them, and this text does not. And yet it does all this really cool artistic stuff at the end, so it could be that it does not suck as an artwork, just as the type of art I don't like. Hmm. But granting that it has a different-yet-equally-valued-frame-of-aesthetics and me actually rereading it to write a damn paper on it are two different things.

Other than that, not much happening here --- finally got back on the exercise, edited my writing sample and puttered about on that to-do list today. I wish my stuff was all ready and letters in so I could just bang bang bang send out the entire season's stuff this week and go back to trying to publish. Ah well. I'll live. The cats are both grooming themselves right now. Maybe I should have dessert.



*If you're just tuning in, my dissertation research topic has a pseudonym: nosepicking in the eighteenth-century cultural imagination. I, however, really am a small black cat, and let me tell you I have the worst problems with maintaining authority in the classroom. People are always saying "meow" and "hello, kitty," to me and skritching my head instead of turning in their homework or taking notes. Ah, where is the dignity?

3 comments:

Earnest English said...

Why do I think I would have a better, not worse, time in the classroom if I were a small black cat? Is it just that it's another morning in which I overslept? Or am I just burnt?

Susan said...

This is one of those books that should be labeled "justly neglected". In fact many neglected works should remain neglected!
But nosepicking and drunkenness, now THAT's a subject.

Shane in Utah said...

Mention the scene in an endnote. It's your book, and you don't have to write about anything you're not interested in writing about. That's the joy of having the phud.