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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Where did the day go (Thursday)

I read some short stories from Hotel Lambosa as coffee is brewing. I'm at my desk (at home) at 8:18. I didn't sleep well and am suffering from almost overwhelming anxiety. A combination of hangover from teaching 1st day, the stress of moving, having to think about taxes, and some personal stuff. At 8:26 I submit article to RCEH after adding one item for the bibliography. I write study abroad about budget for Barcelona, and answer email from colleague at other university. It is 8:39. Read more KK. I find the passage I was looking for:
A friend of mine, a woman, once explained happiness to me.
She had a theory the the "happiness base." Once, she said, you had this base, at odd times, moments of true happiness could occur.

Without the base, they would not.

The base was made of good health, good work, good friendship, good love. Of course, you can have all these things and still not be "happy."

You have to have the base, and then be lucky, she said. That's why you were happy at the café.
Koch develops this theme more in his intro to poetry, where he talks about how a poet needs a "poetry base." I, in turn, borrowed this concept for my "scholarly base."

I make some business-type calls. I hate doing this, but I like accomplishing those tasks. Phone keeps going dead. I thought I had good reception in this new place I am living. Made massage appt when phone started working again. Maybe that will help me with anxiety.

My translation of the happiness base into scholarly base: good formation, good prose, good support, good motivation. Then you have to be lucky too. Life is more complicated than scholarship, but somehow I can't make it sound as good as Koch's formula. Motivation means: finding a good fit between your ultimate aspiration and what you are actually doing. Formation: everything you have learned, your intellectual background and education. Support: institutional and interpersonal. Good prose is being able to write it up really well. Luck is finding the project that allows everything to line up perfectly: you were meant to read this book.

You don't have to be happy to do good scholarship. I am not happy today and I sent in an article.

I go to get cascade, go to cell phone office where they tell me tower is down. Have lunch with my amiga. Back at 1:40. Anxiety at 50% of where it was this morning. I email my editor at U of Chicago Press. Does he want to look at my ideas for next book on Lorca?

2:30=3:30. Massage.

5:30. Martinis.



Leslie said...

"You don't have to be happy"

You do have to have some baseline level of "happiness" (although happy is not necessarily the word) -- some baseline level of connection to the source.

Professor Zero said...

OK, this is amusing. I am going through computer files, looking for something. I came upon some journal-type stuff from AY 2010-2011. I was trying to figure out how to manage anxiety. The notes say that reading literary theory was the only thing that had worked so far. ;-)