Monday, 26 June 2006

Finish Silas Weir Mitchell chapter. (July 14th) Finish Jack London chapter. (August 31st) Compose a 3-4 page summary of the project. (July 1st) Whittle 3-4 page summary into 1-2 page summary of the project. (July 14th) Update and revise my C.V. (July 1st) Write minnesota review article on academic blogging. (September 1st) Draft MLA conference paper on academic blogging. (September 14th) Contact MLA about adding Scott McLemee to the panel as a respondent. (immediately) Order new printer cartridge. Write commissioned review of Frederick Crews' Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays. (August 1st) Solicit more regular reviewing gigs. Acquire reading knowledge of Spanish. Discover previously untranslated Spanish-language primary sources and begin writing most impressive chapter ever. Locate poems which deal with turn-of-the-century evolutionary theory. (July 1st) Track down some plays that do too. (July 7th) Create Abstractalous. (Motto: "Because sometimes you don't wanna re-read the whole damn book.") Write mission statement and establish categories. Re-read the whole damn book if it's important enough to warrant a post on Abstractalous. (Summaries and responses both acceptable.) Read, annotate and write an abstract of one academic essay not germane to the dissertation every weekday. Revise old posts and collate them into The Best of Acephalous: Year 1. Put out a call for candidates for another collection–The Best Academic Humor: 2004-2006–and beg people to pass the word around. Read an advanced logic textbook at the pace of one chapter every three days. Learn to set reasonable goals. Return all irrelevant library books. Do something stunning with four reclaimed rooms. Purchase tickets to and hotel accomodations at MLA 2006. Watch Mets march to postseason glory. Cherish impression that all is Wright in the world. Do one unexpected, unmentioned favor for The Little Womedievalist every day. ("Unmentioned" so as to not allow it entry into the household "guilt economy" and thus compel LW to reciprocate.) Read essay about the history of the book and/or medieval manuscripts once every third day. (Start with the recent PMLA.) Work out 3 days per week; engage The Little Womedievalist in long, pointless walk 3 others; rest on ass/laurels the remainder. Think about dinner after breakfast to avoid having breakfast for dinner. Avoid being evicted. (immediately) Avoid being dropped from graduate health insurance. (immediaterly) Purchase unobtrusive, modern fish tank for lonely, cannibal cichild, Charlie Brown. Reconnect with old friends. Via email. Encourage The Little Womedievalist to follow her dreams and "do something" with our moleskin bedroom. Plan and execute vacation to Northern California. Visit the Redwoods while there and be in decent enough shape (#26) to appreciate their immensity fully. Order new printer cartridge. Wake up early, down must-wait-hour-before-eating thyroid replacement hormone, do dishes then prepare and eat breakfast. Move prescription collection somewhere the heat of the stove won't murder its potency. Dispose of all expired and/or unnecessary medications. Donate anything not worn for more than 2 years to the Salvation Army. Chunk hundreds of old New Yorkers and NYRBs. Adopt efficient, non-haphazardly-stacked-on-floor-and-subwoofer DVD-organization philosophy. Evict useless crap from the filing cabinet...
Abstractalous Mission Statement One reason I've opened Abstractalous overwhelms all others: I'm terrible at quickly, cogently summarizing what I read. I belabor outlines until they're of equal or greater length than the article they're intended to supplant. That's not a useful skill. Re-writing an article or a chapter in so many different words doesn't help me remember the argument contained therein. So shortly before the accident, I started abstracting what I read in a deliberate fashion unseen since the days of qualifying exams. But I'm not good at it. I miss things. Big things. Things which lead others to believe I'm lying about having read the article. I think this the result of dissertation-scavenging for so long, but whatever its etiology, it must stop. Now. I have drawn the line, in the form of this blog, and I hope you find it as useful to read as I do to write. My purpose is two-fold: Get the argument right. Include all the important nuances. Establish its place in the critical tradition. Provide enough theoretical background so it makes sense to non-specialists. (Because someday you too will forget how to connect-the-dots of that subtle Derridian argument.) Focus on what the argument says, not criticisms of it. Too often the presence of criticism alongside fractures the argument itself. We can hash out the problems with the argument in the comments. The main body should be a direct, uncritical account of the argument in question. It should be the strong form of the argument, so that when we take up arms against it, we do not assail a man of straw. Create a resource for budding literary scholars. A catalog of abstracts they can turn to (or back to) when they need to understand a particular argument about a work of literature. To that end, I want these to be as direct (as per #1) and clearly written as possible. You're probably asking yourself: Why is he setting down these groundrules if he's going to be the only one writing it? Pish-posh. I don't think I'm that important. I also can't write an abstract for every book and/or article out there. I'm offering you the opportunity to help me out. Is your computer larded to the guts with abstracts of everything you've read the past five years? Why not post them? The information isn't proprietary, after all, since no one will ever publish your summaries of other people's publications. However, think of the status you could eventually acquire in the profession's reputation economy: you could be one of the few, the proud, the abstractors. People who took a little time every day to boil important arguments to the bone and put them up there for public consumption. I don't hold out too much hope that other people will agree to participate. But some of you already do something of the sort, so I'm still somewhat sanguine about my chances. But even if all my utopian desires are foiled, this should be a damn fine way for...

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