Today’s main task was working on an R&R.
First step: outline the paper as I wrote it, because I couldn’t find the original outline. I’m sure I had one, but it’s not in computer files, not in research journal, not in notebook; all I can find are primary quotations and an annotated bibliography.
Next step: in the outline, strike out everything the reviewer thought I should lose, then highlight in yellow the parts to develop, and in blue the parts that now need to move somewhere else.
Step three: wonder if there is anything left of my paper.
Step four: start an outline for the revision, which includes quite a lot of material supporting the opposite point of view to the one I’m arguing. I almost convinced myself to argue for that point of view. But I can’t quite get there. I still like my original point.
Pause to consider whether this is because I’m an atheist and cannot be convinced by any religious/supernatural explanation of events when there’s a rationalist one available. Probably. This is somewhat problematic when dealing with medieval texts.
Further pause to contemplate the broader implications of this problem. Obviously a scholar needs some distance, but at what point does the distance become so great as to generate confusion rather than objectivity?
Remember Jill Mann and feel comforted.
Contemplate the distance in achievement between myself and Jill Mann, and slump again.
Think, not for the first time, that if I could meet the people I study, I would probably not like them, and they would certainly find me almost incomprehensible.
Return to the outline. Compare two things and try to draw conclusions from the exercise. Find a number of similarities that seem like they ought to mean something, but which somehow don’t add up to much.
Give up and get ready to go to the gym. Have insight! Scribble it on a yellow sticky. Work out. Fix dinner. Type in the insights from the sticky note.
Discover that they, too, somehow fail to add up to much.
It’s an R&R, not a rejection. There must be a pony in here somewhere.