Doin’ academic stuff

What a jerk.

The picture above actually never happens to me. No, not because this is in fact the 21st century and we no longer use microfiche. We’re talking about a university that, for all its pomp and claims of grandeur, refuses to provide library access to its graduates for the summer between their undergraduate and graduate careers for no better reason than they always have. There is power and brilliance and intellectual revolution here, yes, but also institutional ossification and stagnation. So, I need to use microfiche. Frequently.

Fortunately, no one else cares about the things I care about, or at least not many people do. If a book I need is out from the library, I don’t usually recall it. Instead, I email 5 or so friends and see who has it. In the past two years I think this method has failed once. One of the benefits, I suppose, of studying a comparatively esoteric subject.

Actually, a surprisingly esoteric subject. I mean I didn’t expect many of my classmates to be interested in the same sort of things I was, but I expected some of my classmates to be. After all, several of my friends who had already graduated from HDS were. But no, the grand total this year was none. During orientation there were little signs around the room with our fields of study where we were supposed to use to find those who were studying similar things. After sitting under mine (History of Christianity) for about 10 minutes, I went to join the Women & Gender in Religion group because that is also a cool subject.

This really isn’t the worst thing in the world -after all, I don’t have to fight for library books- but it can sometimes be frustrating. It’s on my mind right now, for instance, because I’m having a bit of a thought road block, and there are very few people (~2) who are not professors who I could even ask to bounce ideas around.

I’m not entirely sure what the road block is. I mean, I know what the paper’s about. I’m presenting a paper at a conference next Friday, and that presentation is halfway written. That half is the easy half, the historical background details which simply need flow out of my brain and onto the page. Facts, in other words. Facts are what make history, but facts aren’t history, just like atoms are what make you but aren’t you. The other half, the interpretation and analysis, entering into thoughts long-dead and pulling out strands and weaving them into a coherent whole – history – that part’s not coming along so well.

It could very well be all this cold medication making my head fuzzy. I won’t claim my brain works by the regular definitions most people go by, but it works for me. If I had to describe it, it’s like hyperlinks, except for someone’s messed up the code a little bit so clicking on the link doesn’t take you to the exact place you think it should. Or, it’s like wiki-surfing only it skips the intermediate article so you miss that sense of continuity, or you would if you’re not in my head, but as I am in my head on a permanent basis it all makes sense to me. Not that it’s all useful. I am wrong a lot, particularly when asking questions. I like being wrong, because it shows me what thoughts are poorly formed, what parts need more work, need to be more mature,  what is flat out wrong, and what may actually be good. Throw enough stuff against the wall and some of that stuff will stick.

Various things make me… fuzzy. Too much sleep, not nearly enough sleep, booze, cold medication (both drowsy and non versions) all break this up. I can still do work. I can take notes or do data entry for a project, and most of the times I can read. The fuzziness, though, not only slows down that weird linking process but also removes a good portion of the associated apparatus analysis that’s doing all that work determining what’s stuck to the wall and what hasn’t. The fuzziness is why, when I was diagnosed with depression about eight years ago, I took the happy pills for all of a month. I’m fortunate that I can live without them, although about three or four times a year I’ll think getting out of bed is pointless or just too much work for about a week so my lovely wife has to make sure I’m vertical before she leaves, because I just can’t think with them.

…Wow that went to a weird place. Anyway, I’m having trouble writing a paper I shouldn’t have any trouble writing. I find this irritating, and I figured I should sit down and just write and maybe it will go away, so I wrote this.

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