Well, okay, perhaps not in a cosmic sense or anything. But, see, yesterday was another day of basically just huge frustration with the Victorian project--possibly even more frustrating since I had a really incredible zazen session in the morning--at least in the sense that I finally broke through the barrier of constantly wondering what time it was and really beginning to feel like I was starting to constitute a present that was something other than the usual mindracing of past/present. But that didn't translate into better writing, and when I headed off to the party last night, I was more than a little frustrated with the two paragraphs I had in the new version, and also just generally feeling like I was losing touch with the purpose of my work again--kind of coming back to the place I was emotionally with all this back at the beginning of July when I had lunch with FCM, a place where I do actually know that I'm no longer approaching this correctly, but can't get myself back together on my own. I need a pep talk, I thought to myself.
And that's when it hit me. Talk. Talking. Like, to people. In person. When was the last time I had a meaningful face to face conversation, I asked myself? I had been at home, except for my whirlwind trip to the Greenmarket (orange cherry tomatoes, more summer squash, peppers, a wheat baguette, ground turkey), all day. Friday I also worked from home. Thursday I went to the library but the only person I saw there was K, and I didn't talk to him. Wednesday I had been coming home from FCM's apartment and...worked from home. Tuesday I had worked at FCM's apartment, since I'd been planning to see The Poet Tuesday night, and when that feel through, I stayed in, talked to him on the phone, and watched Bring it On on Hulu. The last face to face conversation I've had that didn't involve a food / drink purchase was, I calculated, Monday night when I ran into my friend S. at West Village Coffeeshop.
Whoops. No wonder I was going a little bit crazy. No, crazy isn't even the right word, really. Except for being disappointed when I couldn't see The Poet, my solitude had largely been of my own making. I like taking advantage of FCM's place when I have the chance to, and I was also grateful to be back in my own home. Thursday was not a particularly productive day in the library, and I thought that maybe taking a break for a few days would help. I'm actually kind of proud of myself that I don't take every chance to talk to K.--in a way, this makes me feel better about the situation. And I'm really happy I stayed here on Friday, even if it wasn't super productive. But, even for me, this was kind of an excess in alone time, even in the summer.
Needless to say, I was really glad that I had a place to be last night, to be with a large part of my favorite people from my program in a setting that wasn't quite as debauched as usual. It's not like I felt the need to talk about my project per se, but more the sound of hearing my own voice and the voices of others that was regenerating. I had an especially nice talk with a guy who was in a seminar with me a couple of years ago--it had been a class that affected a lot of people deeply and long afterwards, and I was glad to be able to compare experiences. All in all, there was something oddly affirming about the whole night: everyone looked *spectacular*, people seemed happy and rested or at least not actively stressed out, L. brought cranberry wine from Three Lakes, and (at least in terms of the conversations that I had with people), there seemed to be far less of the general gossip about other people that occasionally makes me feel bad when it's over. And I was also able to reestablish what I hope will become a practice of not drinking so much that I'm completely out of it for two days.
Which is not to say that I've gotten much done yet today. I slept in, shot some emails back and forth with The Poet, sat, had some food, listened to some podcasts from the San Francisco Zen Center, and took a nap. Now, obviously, I am blogging. But I don't feel as twisted up as I have for the last couple of weeks, and I've finally remembered that there was nothing in VIE's email to me that said, "Start from zero with your article and redo the whole thing"--this was my idea. And even my revision, while it does involve some rewriting, was never supposed to be that.
To wit (and this is in some ways the impetus of this post, as far as externalizing something like this helps me get it done), the parts of the article that need actual writing rather than tweaking are:
* The intro, though this involves mostly moving up and combining the three or four paragraphs about the passage that are currently scattered on pages 6-13.
* What comes immediately after the intro, for obvious reasons. This will involve the insertion of criticism and a greater engagement with Adviser's work on Poe and my author.
* The discussion of the "signs of death" debate needs to be streamlined and tied more closely to the poem and to issues of reading and signification.
* The fiction pieces I'm using along with Poe need to be discussed separately in terms of their relation to ideas, not discussed randomly in the middle of the piece.
* I need to extend the discussion of the sleep / death articulation in the section on knowledge in a way that brings it back to linguistic signification and the signs of death debate.
* The final section on the governing metaphor in the broader Victorian literary context needs to be expanded substantially and brought back to issues of reading at the end.
This all looks like a lot, but it's different from actually rewriting the article. And I should be able to at least tell VIE where things are tomorrow even if it does take me a couple more days to whip things into shape. Though I should probably get on that about now.
The Poet sent me an email this morning asking me what I thought of the John Edwards thing and telling me that his wife had been forwarding him the NY Times articles, but that she'd attached a note saying, "It's okay, you know that you have the green light from me for your affairs." (Or something like that.) My general feeling, to the extent that I've given it much thought, is that it annoys me when people are aghast at the idea that adult life and adult relationships are complicated, and I think we'd be a lot better off as a society if we approached relationships with less of a one size fits all mentality and recognized that there are many ways of not conforming to the norm that don't necessarily make them less ethical. I'm speaking here mainly from my experience as being increasingly pegged as "that chick who dates old married dudes" and from feeling like I'm just kind of tired of talking about the whole thing. With that being said, it doesn't seem to me like Edwards was being particularly ethical about the whole thing, and he was also being stupid. Given that he was running for president in the United Fucking States, this would have been a good time, methinks, to keep it in his pants or at least have used protection. It does infuriate me, as a Democrat who has always kind of liked the guy, that he could have gotten the nomination and then had this story break, which would basically have fucked us all over in the country for at *least* another four years--in a way that even the Bill / Monica thing didn't have the power to do.
Anyway. Back to work, I think.