Friday, October 7, 2011

What am I doing?

Dear Reader,
Working in academia, reading "my" satirists, I felt that I "knew" them.  Maybe that is what good writing does, makes you feel a personal connection to the author the way the eyes of any portrait seem to "follow" you.  But I felt their reality was more important than the dishes in the sink, kids squabbling, the car breaking down, and the brass band oom-pah-pahing down Main Street a block away.  What grabbed my heart was a feeling of kinship with these writers -- not the critics, not the academic assessments, but the soul, the passion of the writer at work in a world gone mad.  I identified with that.  Over the years, professors told me, "You can really write!" and then critiqued whatever needed retooling to conform to the academic mold.  I'm coming to terms with my writerly self to whom my practical self shouts, "Sit down and shut up!"

As for the dissertation re-write, it's been only slightly tweaked the past couple of weeks.  I've combed through bibliography, looked at forthcoming conferences and who is writing what.  Reading recent articles, few are the footnotes I find that reference texts written more than a year or two ago.  What does that say about memory?  Historicity?  Continuity?  The value of the critical canon?  Perhaps the tsunami of current media causes people to forget that literary history harbors creatures and landscapes still undiscovered -- not only extant texts, but also extant meanings that our post-modernism shatters, deconstructs and reconfigures in its own temporal image.  Drawn into kinship with the actual souls who wrote, I am revisiting not only their works, lives and ideas but also my own as I wrote my dissertation.  It is not for popularity that I edit my little monster, but because the dead, or something alive in me, won't let me abandon the project.

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