Monday, April 20, 2009

Facing Down My Demons

A few years ago, Mary Pepping, a neural psychologist, told me that I was choking. That while the brain damage to my frontal lobes had seriously compromised some of my executive abilities, it was not possible that they had compromised them as badly as they had on the battery of tests she had given me. Simply put, if I was as bad at sorting as the test made me look, there would be no way I could do as well as I did on the parts of the test that I aced. Instead, she suggested that I had "an unwitting tendency to channel somatically my distress at not being able to perform the tasks" at which I am impaired. This is a clinical, perhaps more gentle way of saying that I was choking.

And I have been choking. I have not written a successful paper since the spring of 2005. That paper, while it achieved its goals, at 45 pages at space-and-a-half was far too long. I have been trying to gain control of my writing since, and have failed repeatedly. This has taken a terrible toll on my self respect.

Well, I've learned a lot over the past four years. I've learned about the normal problems of scale that any imaginative graduate student has to conquer. I've learned about my very sad organizational abilities and how to work ways around them. I've learned about my difficulties managing my emotions. So I'm facing down one of my incomplete papers. It's called "Faith, Epistemology and The Ideal-Type of the Sacred," also known as "the Plato-Weber paper." I'm going to try to face this one down. Maybe I'll make it, maybe I won't. But I'm going to try again.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Newspapers are Still Stored on Paper!

I finally sent off an e-mail to Haim Gal at the Moshe Dayan Center and just heard back from him. Most of the newspapers in the Arab Press Archive are recorded on paper! I'm really and truly floored. Well, the good news is that I won't have to buy the damned microfilm reader. I think I may have to buy a really good digital camera or two. If I can figure out how these sorts of things might work, Craig and I can photograph the articles.