1. I am still reading The Black Insider very slowly, and I have little new to report on that front except that I have added The House of Hunger, by the same author, to my list, as well as Zygmunt Bauman’s Liquid Times. I am also reading, strictly for pleasure, the criticism and historical documents related to Heart of Darkness that is included in the Norton Critical Edition of that novella. The selection of historical and other contextualizing documents is really quite good.
I am teaching this book, so it does not count as Reading for Pleasure. I am not writing anything about it, and I do not need to read any more criticism on it to do an adequate job at teaching it, but I have grown addicted to Conrad – so much so that, for example, I want to see the long version of Apocalypse Now. Therefore criticism on Heart of Darkness now qualifies as Reading for Pleasure (otherwise it would be Overpreparing One Class to Procrastinate Preparing for Others).
2. In News of the Generation Gap (if reading a flame war is a pleasure) my mother, an older white lady who voted for Edwards by absentee ballot before he left the race, reported Monday night that she now favors Obama. What she said of the Clintons: “I am tired of that whole generation, and I really think it is time to move ahead.” Hah! That is what my students said also, in a class where most people are about sixty years younger than my mother.
3. Finally, to read for pleasure and illumination, there is WoC PhD’s excellent post on Fidel, and then there is this post and comments thread. Says the writer: [As I graded, commented, drafted letters of recommendation, and rewrote abstracts,] “I really thought if I spent two weeks not writing anything that was false I could overcome my problems with writer’s block.”
I had writer’s block for seven years. During that time I only wrote one new scholarly piece, although I did publish an edited volume and some journalistic pieces, some non-refereed pieces, some short stories and some poems. My writer’s block started before tenure and I only made tenure because of what I already had in the “pipelines.” It was very nerve wracking to be told time and again that I just needed to be more self-disciplined (I have always been, very), that I lacked confidence (I do not), or that I “feared success” (I do not). I did not know why I had writer’s block until I discussed it one evening with a man who wanted to take me out.
I had said I was not interested but he had said just please have one cup of coffee or one drink, one time. I said all right, but the topic of conversation must be my writer’s block and you must help me with it. He said fine. I described my problem to him. He listened, thought for a while, and then said, “You must start choosing the projects you believe in.” C’était vrai. La neta.