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Mpls, MN, United States

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Reading

My job this summer is reading for the exams I keep mentioning. These are my PhD qualifying exams, or something like that (my dad said I'd better hope the first question isn't "What are these tests called?"). The way they work is that I submit bibliographies to three of my four committee members, based on coursework I've done for them and my own research interests. They submit a question each, which I am to answer in approximately 10 pages. I have two weeks to write these three papers, currently scheduled to begin on August 1.

At one point my advisor estimated that I should be reading a book a day, and I'm a little behind on that. The good news, though, is that I just counted, and it looks like the number of full books I need to read for the first time is only 22! Oh, and I've finished two of those already, and am almost through a third. The rest are things I've read before, and although I'll definitely need to review them, they're not quite as daunting.

I spent all day today reading and my brain feels a little fried. Parts were good and useful, but there were lots of fairly dreadful bits. Here are a few:

"This connection of touch that traverses time and space establishes a relation that in turn affects the form and space of all bodies including the 'body-politic,' inviting the body as embodiment of a diverging chronotope to become other to that of the nation-state's solitary spaces of confinement." (59)

"The actualization of potential energy alters states, causing shifts from individuation to individuation through the metastability of transduction. In other words, engenderings alter the relation between time, space, and bodies as bodies time space and space time. What a body can do is in-formed and de-fromed by this potential energy at both the level of the individualizing individual and at the level of state politics." (102)

"The senses supplement sense: external and internal to sense-as-signification, the senses extend what it is to 'know,' challenging implicitly the manner in which the conditioning of sense continues to be allocated to a strict economy of reason as extrinsic from the body. Sense, sensing, senses, making sense, making senses supplement signification by rendering it bodily, by adding to the body, by extending the capacity to know into a sensual apparatus. Signification is sensual, it turns out, and politics make sense." (130)
"The mind is an insidious little saboteur," I read once, though Google's not helping me out as far as who said it. When I'm trying to slog through text like this, and having difficulty feeling remotely absorbed, my mental chatter goes into overdrive. A couple of times today, I caught it saying, "Blah, blah, blah," over the top of what I was reading. Another of its favorite tricks is to pull up images, like flashcards, often of painful memories, or introduce complex problems that I should maybe try to run in the background, in case I'm not already working hard enough. Often, fighting my own thoughts is more challenging than understanding the reading. It leaves me tired and cranky.

It's becoming increasingly evident that I need to outrun the crazies, but I'm still working on that. As much as I dislike treadmills, I want to get one so I can run without dying of heat stroke (it hit 110 today, and this is the forecast for the rest of the week):
The listed highs are 106, but the detailed text says 108-113. That's clearly too hot to run outside, and makes the 83 my parents air condition their house to feel pretty balmy. Now I just have to find a treadmill.

4 comments:

Ellen said...

It's 71 degrees at 12:34 here in Champaign. I'm wearing a light jacket inside.

CëRïSë said...

Oh, man... it hasn't been 71 here for weeks.

Yes is a World said...

I forget, what are you studying?

CëRïSë said...

Sometimes I forget, too! My PhD will be in Art History, with an emphasis on contemporary art and critical theory. The book I quoted from was actually from my outside area bibliography, which is in Anthropology and focuses on ideas of the sacred.