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    Sobriquet 49.24

    Wednesday, December 31, 2008
    Having spent another long session of transcribing in front of my computer screen, I can finally sense the end of the pile creeping onto my radar. Seriously, had I not started this blog project last year, I seriously doubt I would have been able to muster the sort of patience I have needed to exercise in order to get myself through the monstrously long process of reviewing the literature on Disgrace. Still, I have a significant bit more to do and, with the new semester looming on the horizon, I want to finish all this pre-writing damn soon.

    For tomorrow: Transcribe or read and work on extra-curricular academic stuff.

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    ____________________________________________
    Since my back injuries from my second accident this month have aggravated those I sustained in the first smash-up, I wasn't entirely certain I'd be able to sit at the computer today. Fortunately, the pain, while certainly not pleasant, was bearable and I was able to work my way through the process of transcribing a few more articles, bringing me that much closer to finishing this unending task. As always, the process is tedious but it does afford me the opportunity to listen to music while I work (a luxury I will not grant myself when I am actually writing a given chapter) as well as provide me with time to reflect on the chapter I am preparing to write before I actually sit down to plan it.

    For tomorrow: Transcribe or read.

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    ____________________________________________
    Tuesday, December 30, 2008
    Well, having finished The Rights of Desire a few days earlier than I anticipated (I gave myself, unofficially, very light reading assignments while I visited family over the holiday break), I began re-reading Disgrace, largely because I'd left the critical notes and quotes I have yet to transcribe in my office with my other, less-portable dissertation materials.

    At any rate, this is at least the fourth or fifth time I've read the novel and, happily, I enjoy it as much as ever. I do find it a bit strange re-reading the book after having spent so much time reading the criticism on it because, since I have seen so many passages from the book cited and dissected by critics, my mind constantly bounces between the pleasurable act of reading a novel I enjoy a great deal and the critical discussions inspired by a given bit of prose. It is helpful, though, as I have been taking notes and making comments I hadn't necessarily thought the first few times through the text.

    I also read Brooke Allen's brief discussion of Disgrace in The New Leader. Taking a somewhat "standard" view of the novel, Allen proposes that we read the novel as an allegory of the aging white figure in a new, multiracial South Africa that "has consigned David [and, presumably, the class of people of which he is a part] to the trash can." Though the essay is largely a summary of the plot, Allen does provide several interesting insights into the book, especially in relation to David's strained bond with his daughter.

    For tomorrow: Transcribe or read.

    Work Cited

    Allen Brooke. "Unravelling a Historical Moment." Rev. of Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee. The New Leader 13 Dec. 1999. 27-28.

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    ____________________________________________
    Saturday, December 27, 2008
    I'm going to have to keep this really brief. Although I anticipated some lunacy surrounding the Christmas holiday, this year has been full of . . . um . . . surprises, including a second (minor, thankfully) car accident, illness, navagating New York City on a sleety, crowded Christmas Eve and such. Still, despite all the . . . um . . . fun, I did read that one article on Disgrace that I found last week and I finished Brink's The Rights of Desire last night. Now, I'm just going to start re-reading Disgrace, taking notes on a fresh copy, preparing myself for the chapter I hope to begin soon.

    For today, tomorrow, etc.: Re-read Disgrace or transcribe.

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    ____________________________________________
    Tuesday, December 23, 2008
    So, I've spent the past couple of days doing what I have been doing for the past month or so: transcribing notes. Happily, though, it appears that I have passed the halfway point of the transcription process, having worked my way through a foot-high stack of critical essays. I have more than 100 pages of notes typed up now, which is both good (I have a lot to work with) and bad (I have a lot to work with).

    I am at a stage in the transcription process where I really have started to wonder how much information one human being can possibly work with before it becomes overwhelming. I realize, too, that this has been done before, so I guess I'll just have to find a way (color-coded highlighting?) to organize what feels like a sprawling mess. . .

    For tomorrow, Christmas Eve, Christmas, et cetera: Transcribe, finish reading Brink's novel, and/or read the short article on Disgrace that I found today.

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    ____________________________________________
    Friday, December 19, 2008
    All I am going to say tonight is that my notes for Disgrace have surpassed ninety pages in length and I'm not even halfway done transcribing them yet.

    For tomorrow, et cetera: Transcribe or read.

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    ____________________________________________
    Thursday, December 18, 2008
    I had tea with a friend of mine this afternoon. As might be expected when a pair of relatively young, eager academics meet for caffeinated beverages on a cold late autumn afternoon, the two of us discussed the scholarly life. Pleasantly, in addition to the standard exposition of the myriad anxieties plaguing the minds of young, non-tenured academics like ourselves, we also spoke of some of the advantages our chosen career paths can provide. Though we did not talk about it, I have always appreciated the fact that one's appearance is not as strictly monitored among academics. Indeed, tattoos, piercings, denim, scruff, and other elements of corporate unfriendly dress are tolerated, if not outright encouraged in many academic circles.

    That said, I dressed rather nicely this afternoon, reasoning that meeting a friend and her infant daughter merited a clean-shaven visage, a nice collared shirt, and otherwise clean clothes, so I was a bit chagrined when a rather cretinous fellow approached me as I walked outside the cafe to explain that he was "trying to score some bud" and wanted to know if I could assist him in his search for no doubt primo weed. Now, don't get me wrong. Though I choose not to take recreational drugs myself, I do not agree with the laws restricting their consumption and I wished the young man the best of luck in procuring the most righteously mind-blowing cannabis sativa upstate New York has to offer. But I was chagrined nevertheless. Vexed, even. I say this because, in my efforts to doll myself up, in my attempt to dress to the nines, I still evidentially resemble the sort of person one can comfortably approach in broad daylight (or, rather, New York's sunlight-diffused gray haze), in full view of law enforcement officers, and ask for drugs. Which brings me back to academic life and its delightfully lax dress code. You see, I mustn't have any idea how to properly attire myself for the real world. I mean, if even my best efforts to dress nicely result in me looking like someone Cheech Marin might find lurking outside his trailer, then I really haven't many vocational options. Teaching college, at least, gives people an excuse to explain away my apparent inability to comprehend even the most rudimentary fashion-related concepts. Oh, he's a professor, the theoretical person will say, understandingly, drawing upon the nutty professor stereotype. He's eccentric! Or, alternately, Bright people don't bother themselves with trifles like fashion sense. No, they're busy working on important stuff like researching onomatopoeia in Finnegans Wake.

    So I came home and worked on transcribing notes for my dissertation. After all, the outside world is apparently too strange and mysterious a place for the likes of me. . .

    For tomorrow: More of the same.

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    ____________________________________________
    Wednesday, December 17, 2008
    Having finished transcribing notes and such before noon today, I got to spend the day relaxing a bit, hanging out with a friend, reading, napping, and playing computer games. As far as reading goes, I decided to pick up a copy of William Maxwell's So Long, See You Tomorrow because I want to make sure I keep reading non-dissertation material while I am working on the dissertation. I mean, I worry sometimes that the dissertation takes up too much of my existence and I want, years down the road, to be able to look back on these days and see that I did something other than work on the dissertation. Reading a short novel (like Maxwell's) once in a while lets me feel like I haven't entirely neglected to keep up on my autodidactic pursuits. That, too, is an important lesson learned: one must not become so engrossed in one's academic work so as to resent it later or use it as a scapegoat to take the blame for things left unaccomplished off of oneself. So I read a novel once in a while. And, hopefully, I'll read up on physics, history, and math, as well. Oh, and spend time with friends, too.

    For tomorrow: Transcribe or read.

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    ____________________________________________
    Tuesday, December 16, 2008
    It took me until quite late in the evening to start working on my transcription work today, but once I got started, I tore through the endeavor. For whatever reason, I had very little enthusiasm for dissertation work and spent the day napping, reading George R. Stewart and William Maxwell novels, listening to the Tin Pot Operation, playing Civilization, and Christmas shopping. I did feel a tiny bit of anxiety about having not gotten any work done, so I suspect that may have had something to do with the burst of productivity I had the last couple of hours. As it stands, the transcription of notes about Disgrace, at this early point in the process, takes twice as much space as the entirety of the chapters I wrote on Age of Iron and The Master of Petersburg. There's so much stuff, in fact, that I suspect one could write a fairly substantial dissertation solely on the literary criticism inspired by Disgrace.

    For tomorrow: Transcribe or read.

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    ____________________________________________
    Monday, December 15, 2008
    Well, as far as Sundays go, this has been a good one. I got a few pages of transcription done relatively early in the day, which gave me some time to work on some other things I might otherwise have put off until much, much later. And the Bengals won.

    For tomorrow: More of the endless transcription process. . .

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    ____________________________________________
    Saturday, December 13, 2008
    Today is yet another one of those days spent transcribing notes and quotes on Disgrace, another of those days that will no doubt bleed into one another in my memory, indistinguishable and and undistinguished. But progress is progress. And, compared to reading all the criticism, I much prefer the often brainless activity of transcription. Still, it can be very boring and it is frustrating to know that, though I approach the planning stage of the Disgrace chapter, I still have a long way to go before I can get going on the writing of it. I always knew the Disgrace section would take forever, but Jee-zus!

    For tomorrow: Read or transcribe.

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    ____________________________________________
    Friday, December 12, 2008
    Since I'm not feeling too well at the moment, I'm just going to report that I did get a bit of transcription done tonight.

    For tomorrow: More of the same.

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    ____________________________________________
    Well, I am going to keep today's post on the brief side. I read a bit of The Rights of Desire while waiting for my Apocalyptic Literature class to finish writing their final examinations, so I finished my dissertation work relatively early today.

    The last day of classes always tends to remind me of why I am writing the dissertation in the first place. This semester, I had the wonderful opportunity to teach two upper-level literature courses: Apocalyptic Literature and Existential Literature. It has been a dream of mine to teach the latter course for as long as I have wanted to work as a university-level teacher, so I can check off that bit of my proverbial bucket list. The former class was something I hadn't planned on teaching, actually. Through a strange chain of events, a course proposal for a Dystopian Fiction course was picked up by the department and morphed into Apocalyptic Literature. Then, after spending the better part of five months preparing for what I thought was going to be a lecture course, I was hired to teach first-year writing and, for a short while, it looked like the Apocalyptic Lit class was going to be cancelled. Fortunately, it wasn't. The weird thing was that, at nearly ninety students, the course was designated as a discussion course.

    Within two weeks, I was delighted to find myself with two discussion-heavy courses in which student participation rarely, if ever, lagged. Over the course of the semester, I got to know dozens of fascinating young men and women who made both classes as much a learning experience for me as any course I had ever taken as a student. Today, as students thanked me for such interesting courses, I was astonished to receive gifts in addition to the normal handshakes and pleasantries. And, though I am always extremely flattered when students tell me how much they enjoyed a given class, I could not believe the number of students who said so today. I was moved close to tears on several occasions. I mean, I wanted to thank them for exactly the same thing!

    I suppose what I am saying is this: when a student who has always struggled to "get" literature walks up to you and says "I don't know how you did it, but somehow you made English my favorite class this semester!" you can't help but feel humbled. After all, all I have ever wanted to do was share my love of literature and ideas with people, to get other people to join in on the great conversation and to share the passion I feel for my favorite books and authors. You cannot help but feel humbled when you realize that the students tell you this when they know you are not the one grading them (I was assigned a grader), when even the most cynical of perspectives cannot dismiss such comments as sycophantic attempts at obtaining better grades. When my Existential Lit class applauded my return after the auto accident, when my students bought me pizza for the last day of class, when an entire class voluntarily stayed to watch The Seventh Seal after all course work and exams had been completed, I was speechless with gratitude. I mean, to see one's own passion spread to others is a joy unlike anything else in the world and to be appreciated for doing so is beyond my capacity for expression. No, those thank yous and I learned a lots were genuine and I am so very thankful to have had the opportunity to teach and learn from such grateful and intelligent young people.

    And, if I can spend my career serving such wonderful people, I will be a very happy man. That is why I write the dissertation: for the opportunity, for the honor of teaching and learning, of friendships formed and passions shared. Truly, I love what I do. So, thank you, students! Thank you for the inspiration to work on my dissertation and for giving me a sense of purpose in life. There really is no greater gift than that.

    For tomorrow: Transcribe or read.

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    ____________________________________________
    Thursday, December 11, 2008
    Since I tend to write most of this weblog's posts after midnight, the date stamp preceding a given day's writing often suggests that what I record for one day was actually completed on the next day. I've never really concerned myself with this sort of detail, figuring that it really doesn't matter. Except when a date actually does matter.

    Today, of course, is one of those days. Although the clock now reads 12:30 AM on December 11, this is, for me, still the day of December 10, the one-year anniversary of this blog. I do, of course, recognize the fact that the recording of dates and such is largely arbitrary, but the practice does have its positive side, enabling us to structure our lives around date-oriented rituals and the like. So, for me, December 10 marks a rather significant point in my life. I have, as of today, worked on my dissertation every day for a year. And that is something.

    This past year, in addition to all the stuff I have learned about South African literature, for instance, or Levinaian theory, I have also learned a tremendous amount about perseverance despite feeling overwhelmed by work, about how to approach an often unrewarding task, about delayed gratification. In other words, I have found that academic work has taught me about some decidedly unacademic things. And they might be the most valuable things I've learned in school. But isn't that often the case? I mean, in seeking to understand others and the world, you end up learning about yourself.

    Anyway, I'm just going to read a bit of Brink tonight and call it a day.

    For tomorrow: Transcribe or read.

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    ____________________________________________
    Tuesday, December 9, 2008
    So, today is the 365th day of my dissertation project and, to mark this ignominious day, I would like to do another rundown post like the one I wrote back in June:

    Blog Posts: 328.

    J. M. Coeztee Books Read: 10 1/2, plus sections of White Writing and Inner Workings.

    Total Books Finished: 35.

    Critical Essays Read: Well over two hundred.

    Chapters Written: Two, but none in the last six months (thanks to the amazingly large pile of criticism on Disgrace).

    Computers Used: Three.

    Computers Killed: One.

    Cars Wrecked: One.

    Courses Taught: Twelve.

    Coetzee Novels Taught: One.

    Literary Critics That Have Contacted Me: Four.

    Libraries Used: More than twenty.

    Articles Published: Two.

    Articles Published on Coetzee: One.

    "Fans" in the Sobriquet Magazine Fan Club: Nine.

    Best Place to Work on Dissertation: Ithaca Falls, Ithaca, NY.

    Least Pleasant Place to Have Worked on Dissertation: Emergency Room at the Community Medical Center, Scranton, PA.

    Sense of Accomplishment: Greater than in June, though the effect is blunted by the sheer length of time I have had to spend preparing for the chapter on Disgrace.

    As far as today goes, I will try to read a bit of The Rights of Desire before hitting the hay.

    For tomorrow: Read or transcribe, as usual.

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    ____________________________________________
    Not a whole lot to say... just that I transcribed a few more articles and reminded myself of a few particularly insightful nuggets of critical insight that I'd forgotten about.

    For tomorrow: More.

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    ____________________________________________
    Monday, December 8, 2008
    Well, today has been another exceedingly long day and, unfortunately, it's not even close to being over yet. I spent a good deal of time working on stuff for my beloved literature classes, which is much more a labor of love than real work. I mean, reading or re-reading a novel is hardly an unpleasant way to spend a windy, cloud-sealed late autumn afternoon. It is, however, time-consuming. I ended up doing dissertation work later in the evening than I would have liked but, for whatever reason, I actually did more transcription than I thought I would, so I'm fairly satisfied with myself. Again, I find that the dissertation remains both the one thing that continuously gives shape to my day and the tightest, most restrictive rope tethering me to a place and time I am about three years further into than I ever wanted to be. Although I have been coping with a battery of unpleasant issues stemming in large part from this particular time and place, I have decided to do try to turn to the dissertation as an outlet for my stress, to use it as a centering device. The transcribing of notes, while often boring beyond belief (especially 66 single-spaced pages into what feels like and endless endeavor) can also serve as a meditative activity, something that drains one's consciousness of stress and anxiety, that enables one to plod on un-self-consciously . . .

    For tomorrow: More.

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    ____________________________________________
    Sunday, December 7, 2008
    Well, it's been a long day and, with a lot of unpleasantness swirling around in my life at the moment, I really haven't a whole lot of time to write anything tonight. All I'll say, then, is that I have done a bit more transcription.

    For tomorrow: More.

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    ____________________________________________
    Saturday, December 6, 2008
    Today was one of those days when, if the lingering pain from my accident hadn't kept me from doing so, I'd've spent ten or more hours working on my dissertation. And, to be honest, this would not have been a wholly positive thing. You see, my urge to work as much and as long as possible today does not stems from the sort of sublime scholarly joie de vivre academics occasionally experience when the pleasure of his or her work renders such activity less work than bliss. I have had the pleasure of meeting a few such individuals, the sort of men and women for whom the dusty stacks in some forlorn corner of a library are as beautiful a sight as the Taj Mahal or St. Basil's. They're usually wonderfully quirky folks, from what I have seen.

    But, at the moment, I am not of that admirable clan and, while I derive a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure from learning about South Africa and J. M. Coetzee, I did not feel the tinglings of that great scholastic joy to which I referred earlier. No, my desire to work is essentially a desire to close what has become a long, tedious, and largely unpleasant chapter of my life.

    My concern with the purgatorial liminality in which the average doctoral student may find him- or herself is certainly not something new to readers of this blog, but I find myself particularly unsettled by it tonight and would like to address the topic again.

    The dissertation or, more specifically, the stage in one's life the dissertation represents, is often a highly isolating one. It is the stage of one's academic life when he or she sets out to walk a path hitherto untrod. I recall a friend of mine in Montreal, a doctoral candidate in physics, speaking of the difficulty he had in relating to his family because they simply had no way of comprehending the esoteric nature of his studies. Now, of course, one needn't share everything one does with one's relations, but my friend's predicament expresses a bittersweet truth: the deeper one delves into his or her studies, the fewer and fewer the people with whom he or she can share that passion. For many doctoral candidates, the dissertation literally marks the charting of new ground. We are encouraged, if not outright forced, to go where no man has gone before, thus placing us in a situation where we have no one with whom to commiserate except other people who can relate not to the subject of our work but merely the experience.

    Now, this would not be so bad if it weren't for the fact that so much of our mental energies are devoted to the dissertation that we cannot always leave it behind when we go about our everyday lives. I mean, ninety percent of the time I am delighted when some bit of wisdom from Levinas or Coetzee illuminates some bit of my day at the supermarket or the bowling alley, but there are times when I struggle to shake the dissertation out of my mind. If I am out with friends, say, and some nugget of insight unexpectedly alights on my brain, I am prone to drop out of the present moment to mentally note whatever it is I so serendipitously realized. Likewise, if I am anxious to finish some task or another, I find it rather hard to do anything else or, at the very least, I do not enjoy things as thoroughly as I would if I feel the dissertation looming over my shoulder like a cartoon conscience steering me towards right behavior.

    But that's not really all that bad. The liminality of it, though, can be annoying. It's difficult for me to fully disengage myself from the dissertation. I live as if I am two beings at once: the dissertation Erik and normal Erik. We share the same space but, in many ways, we cannot coexist. Dissertation Erik wants to work all the time while normal Erik wants to sleep in, listen to punk rock and, most tellingly, not work on a dissertation, ever.

    More broadly, the dissertation-writing student is a liminal being in the sense that he or she is neither fully a student nor fully an academic. We teach classes, sure, but we (or, most of us, at least) are most assuredly not professors. We may teach the same classes, we may publish articles in the same journals, we may have the same male pattern baldness and crow's feet, but we earn a fraction of the money and rarely have the fringe benefits of bona-fide (i.e. non-adjunct) faculty. And there are, obviously, legitimate reasons for this. Still, we find ourselves in the sort of financial situation that someone much younger than we might expect. Accordingly, many of us live in the same relatively ramshackle environments, imbibe and ingest the same questionable nutritional fare, drive the same clunkers, and dress similar to college students. This isn't necessarily bad, of course, but when such circumstances are not freely-chosen (yes, I know, attending grad school is a choice, blah blah blah. . .), we may feel a bit like Billy Madison in the dreadful Adam Sandler film of the same name. Especially when our non-grad student peers can afford, say, napkins with their ramen noodles.

    And it is the financial difficulties that often hit me the hardest. I could take out loans, of course, but given the current economic climate as well as the notoriously competitive academic job market, I am not sure I could pay them off in a timely manner. So I choose the "honest" route and work my way through school. The problem with this is that, for those of us who want to work in education, the choices are limited and job security is pretty hard to come by. Many of us end up adjuncting, which can be wonderful if the situation is right. I, myself, have worked as an adjunct at several schools and have had really good experiences. However, adjuncting contracts are often offered on a term-by-term, as-needed basis, with no guarantee of renewal and no medical benefits. Another difficulty with adjuncting is that, frequently, grad students are stuck teaching the work-intensive classes regular faculty members pass on, some of which can be quite demanding. Balancing employment with one's own work, for some, is a very difficult task.

    I have been pretty fortunate, myself, having had the opportunity to teach many classes related to my field of expertise. Still, lacking a terminal degree, I have no way to ensure that I will find such employment in any given semester, which makes it difficult to maintain a comfortable, even when unabashedly Spartan, life. Sometimes I wonder if, despite my love of teaching, a wiser bet would be for me to find a more secure job so that I could finish my dissertation without having always to worry about whether or not I can afford rent or, you know, a burrito.

    Still, at times like this, when my frustrations come to a head, it is the dissertation that I turn to for some sense of accomplishment. If I can get something done on it, I reason, I can take a degree of satisfaction from having made progress. So, it can be a life line.

    And that's another thing about the dissertation: it has this dualistic quality of both giving and taking life. On the one hand, I feel accomplished and I have met a good many people as a result of my research. On the other hand, I am isolated from my friends and family, both in the physical sense that I am somewhat tethered to a location far from my closest friends and family, as well as in the metaphysical sense my physicist friend alluded to that chilly evening in Quebec.

    And it is this isolation, I think, that I find most troubling. Were I younger, I suspect that the distance would be more easily dismissed as a temporary thing. Now, however, I perceive myself as "stuck somewhere because of my dissertation. Naturally, I could find work elsewhere, closer to my loved ones, but after spending several years in this area, I find that I have unwittingly spread roots here. I mean, I had to establish residency here in order to study at the university and with that residency comes a slew of tethering factors: I have worked here and I know people here. To move, whether I like it or not, probably requires that I be offered a lucrative enough position to make the move worth my while. Until I finish the degree, then, it looks like I will be here, in upstate New York. And, if I move now, I will be leaving the friends I have made here behind. . . and that's not good for someone feeling isolated, now is it?

    So I work on this thing, every day.

    Because a sizable part of me wants to pick up and leave, to start my life anew, I work on this thing every day.

    Because I have hopes and dreams too long deferred, I work on this thing, every day.

    Because I want to teach literature classes for a living, I work on this thing, every day.

    But mostly, I just want to be done, close the book on this chapter of my life and move on, do something else, be able to travel and see the people I care about.

    And today, more acutely than anytime recently, I have felt the emotional and vocational lacunae that the unfinished dissertation bores in my soul.

    So I work, gritting my teeth against the frustrations and fears of what has been a particularly rough week, feeling as if the dissertation is both the ball-and-chain holding me back and the plough with which I can turn the earth into which I plant the seeds for my future.

    For tomorrow: More.

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    ____________________________________________
    Friday, December 5, 2008
    I got a bit more transcription done today. I would have done a bit more, I suspect, had today not been filled with the sort of irritating tasks one must take care of in the week following an automobile accident. I am really looking forward to returning to school next week, injured though I may be, just to get myself through this awful first stage of recovery. Once I can re-insert myself into something of a normal rhythm, I suspect the dissertation work will go a bit more smoothly than it has the past few days. Of course, I have been fairly productive, all things considered, so I really oughtn't complain.

    For tomorrow: More of the same.

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    Thursday, December 4, 2008
    Well, I spent most of today in bed, which seems to have helped me quite a bit. Still, the hunched-over-my-desk posture required for transcribing kills. But I think there's a positive angle to this: if I ever find myself complaining about the lamentable plight of the beleaguered doctoral student and someone sardonically asks "does it really hurt so badly?" I can respond "Aye, it does. Marry, it does!" Of course, this is assuming I am complaining to some old salt aboard a schooner. (Note to self: find out where they sell schooner tickets).

    For tomorrow: More of the same.

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    Wednesday, December 3, 2008
    Well, it’s about three in the morning and my internet connection is out, so I’m typing this brief entry into my word processor before going to bed. Still, it’s not like I had a whole lot to say, having merely transcribed some more notes and quotes for the chapter on Disgrace. By my estimation, I’m still only about a quarter or so through the transcription and I am already on page fifty of my single-spaced notes. It’s ridiculous. The one satisfying thing, though, was having the opportunity to prune Gayatri Spivak’s painfully prolix text down to a few carefully-selected (and delightfully brief) passages. I feel sort of like Yossarian censoring letters in his hospital bed on Pianosa, wiping out whole blocks of text.

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    Tuesday, December 2, 2008
    Another day, more transcription. I have to admit the task is a painful one, both physically and literally. I still have trouble sitting in front of the computer without exacerbating the lingering injuries from last week's automobile accident, but I have tried to force myself to at least get a bit of transcription done each day in spite of the pain, if only to prevent myself from using the accident as an excuse not to get work done.

    So, I transcribed a few more pages and rewarded myself by watching Zack and Miri Make a Porno, which I enjoyed a great deal. Kevin Smith is probably the only writer/director out there who can consistently make sappy love stories work. I mean, he keeps all of the conventions of a rather traditional narrative form but somehow manages not to make them feel forced or trite.

    For tomorrow: More of the same.

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    Monday, December 1, 2008
    Well, here we are: December 1, 2008. The first day of the last month of the first year of the last stage of my formal education. Or something like that.

    So, it's three in the morning and I have just finished my transcription work for the day. I'd be more satisfied with myself if I didn't discover that the transcription I'd already finished and assumed amounted to roughly half of what I'd needed to get done before beginning the chapter on Disgrace was actually a much smaller fraction than one-half. I mean, I'm not exactly surprised. The amount of work I've had to do for Disgrace has always dwarfed the amount required for any other chapter, but, ugh. I've already typed forty-odd pages of single-spaced notes on the book and imagine it will be more than a hundred pages of notes before I am anywhere near finished with the transcription. To put it into context, neither the notes on The Master of Petersburg or Age of Iron exceeded more than thirty or so pages...

    Anyway.

    Thanks to Scared of Chaka and Flipper, I found the energy to sit (somewhat less painful an endeavor than it has been in the past few days) down and churn out a few more pages of transcription.

    But, man, when I say it feels like this never ends, fuck, it feels like it never ends.

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