All entries for May 2006
May 22, 2006
Almost got through planned section of Chapter IV. But not quite.
Have passed half–way mark. Given myself three more weeks.
Just came in from watching Capote at Royal Spa. Painful, very affecting. May buy book tomorrow.
May 17, 2006
Completing a Blogging triptych: a personal best since like January.
Continued to press down my foot on the throat of Chapter IV by finishing the section on the letters [mainly to Boccaccio] in which Petrarch outlines his theory of creative imitation. Having established how he would have determined to make his own, distinctive impression upon the pastoral form with the Bucolicum Carmen, I am now ready to unpack his poetics and explain what sort of image he'd shape it into.
Elected just to re–read notes and plot out that section rather than move on to more writing; though as the plan is far more comprehensive than what I usually give myself to work with I'm optimistic that when I do sit down to it again [Friday, I expect] I might be able to go right through and do it all. Chapter could be 4,000 words + by then.
Happened upon a little nugget in an article I must have read about a dozen times — such a lazy skimmer am I. Bernardo has a half–paragraph about Petrarch — with his tendency to personify abstract significations — writing poetry that appears complex but has a fairly simple meaning, whereas Dante (to use his comparison, though I would say the same is true of Virgil) — having more of a tendency to the opposite — writes poems that appear simple but have a very complex meaning. I think this articulates my nebulous ideas about what — beyond the allegories in themselves — it is that leads the likes of Greene to refer to the Carmen in terms like "failure", "stillborn".
Checked out Wolfson Room when I visited Library after finishing — remembered Andrew's recommendation that I familiarise myself with a little Augustine considering that he was another of Petrarch's icons. Looks a little pokey, and spoiled as I am by all this slimline technology I felt my skin crawl slightly at the sight of suitcase–sized desktop PCs. No — even when people approach me as I study and ask, "You're one of the people who works here, aren't you..?" — I'm Learning Grid through and through now. It's pointless trying to get away when the end of term is so close.
May 16, 2006
As I suspected: yesterday's slog, though torturous, was just a rite of passage to freer and easier writing. I spent about five hours at the computer today, discussing Petrarch's paraphrasing — in various of his letters — of Seneca's theories of imitatio. Inserted — for the sake of clarity, as to my meaning — a little extra padding into the rudimentary introduction I wrote yesterday and ended up with over a thousand words banked on the chapter. 1,600 total.
The Learning Grid experiment continues to progress with pleasing results. I have been tipped off as to the presence of the postgrad–only PC cluster in the Main Library's Wolfson Room [the University probably has let me know but I'm too ignorant to have realised] but only if things get desperate will I venture over there. I am quite keen to settle here after Week 8 and through the summer months, when the wobbly–lipped revisionites have all cleared out.
Plan is to do the same tomorrow, and get stuck into the next section — which will reckon directly with Petrarch's theories of poetry [that is, not just of poetic imitation] and how the Bucolicum Carmen represents pastoral cast in his own image, if you will. If I can manage the same as I did today I'll be very happy…
May 15, 2006
After seeming to claw back a little ground on my studies last week — knocking over in a day–and–a–half the script for my thirty–minute presentation How Servius Shaped Petrarch's Reading of the Eclogues — I returned to the Learning Grid today to resume the gruelling drudgery that is the writing of Thesis Chapter IV.
Over the course of a little more than four hours, I earned the meagre reward [but a reward nonetheless] of about four–hundred words. Initially — it had been so long after all those half–baked, aborted attempts to start the thing off — I couldn't quite remember how I actually planned to marry up the two strands of my introduction: the Bucolicum Carmen and Petrarch on the cusp of the Renaissance and the Bucolicum Carmen as relates to Petrarch's theories of poetry & poetic imitation.
So much time was spent dragging out those ideas an inch at a time, staring out the window at the flickering drizzle and scribbling on a piece of A4. I felt a great deal of sympathy with the ENGXIAND attack as they chip, chip, chipped away at Sri Lanka's batsmen, toiling in vain for a breakthrough that would never come. And indeed, though my introduction is written, I fear it wouldn't be adequate for a regular essay — let alone a full chapter. I'm resolved to proceed and return to rewrite it later, if necessary.
At about half–past three I threw up my hands and accepted that I couldn't carry on; had left the relevant books at home and paid a brief visit to the teeming library to locate other required passages for photocopying. Will return in the morning to press on into the main body of the discussion.
40,000 words feels a long, long way away still.
May 08, 2006
Took the decision late last week to get away from my bedroom for the purposes of study from now on; was practically chewing my leg off after six months cooped up in this gloomy corner of my room day after day, usually for the cause of barely enough words to cover the back of a postcard. So today I packed up my papers and braved the torrents to join the ranks of those I'm normally charged with keeping in check at our brightly–lit shrine to the financial might and whimsy of the University of Warwick — that is, The Learning Grid.
Results were positive, I have to say: with potential distractions eliminated and an abundance of air–conditioned space to stare into, I suddenly found the prose flowing easily from my fingertips. Finished up before starting a shift at five 'o' clock with twenty minutes' worth of my upcoming half–hour presentation committed to the page; in about four–and–a–half hours I produced 2,700 words.
So what if large passages were cut and pasted, or mostly paraphrased, from a chapter that I wrote months ago? I would never have worked it out that fast if I had been sat at home; at this rate, the thing will be out of my way by tomorrow and I'll be able to refocus on the [infinitely tougher] task of churning out this sticky new chapter. For the first time in a long while, anyway, I feel proud of my day's work — nice feeling to come home and laze around guiltlessly. Plan to fix myself in The Grid at least until the Library drains of panicking undergraduates.