Inspired by yesterday's musings I decided to take a more active attitude to this research business this morning. I went to the library and leafed through the new journals they have there every week. They have some lovely ones and I found a great article called "Justice, Equality and Dirt in the Poems of Christopher of Mytilene". Then I read another, but it is noteworthy only because it was badly written and didn't have a point.
The articles made me think about my own dissertation. The author of the first article discussed interesting questions with folks like Freud, Bakhtin, Nussbaum and Mary Douglas. The other one just had collected quotations and random observations - well, it wasn't quite that bad, but still. Anyway, guess which one my own dissertation more resembles at the moment? Exactly. I don't have any framework, no theory, no conceptual apparata through which to process these questions, to provide order to my random observations. I am unable to find books that would interest me enough to be my Freud or Bakhtin.
Bill Miller - the same who has written that book about feuds - said in Reykjavik that one can't write a good book unless one is interested in one's topic. And that, as the Germans are want of saying, unterschreibe ich dick und fett. I haven't been able to read any of my meagre published writings in print, because they are so lacking in any reasonable point. I can live with them, since they are hidden in seminar publications that no-one will ever read. But can I live with having a dissertation that doesn't say anything?
If I want to have the dissertation finished next year, then the answer must be yes. If I won't continue with research, then it is one and the same how the dissy will turn out. But if I do wish to continue, I don't necessarily always want to be explaining the dissertation, be embarrassed by it. I may want it to reflect me and that has brought to my mind a possibly idiotic idea. Like I said yesterday there are those threads lurking even in my cases.
There is a moment in the inauguration ceremony when the king says (freely translated): "It is your task to protect especially those of the citizenry, who provide for and protect the country. When your care for their wellbeing has earned you their trust, then enlighten them of their true best: that they shall never out of ambition let themselves be tempted from the calling, which their birth has ordained them; that they shall never seek rights, which according to public order and established custom are forbidden to them."
That could provide an opening: into questions of authority, of equality and justice, of courts as places that on one hand protect, but on the other hand entrench the status quo. Into the rituals of justice and their place in preserving and shaking social values. Of the whys beyond, which would let me bring questions of authority, power and fears, even good old Freud into the table.
I doubt it would be done next year, but I bet it would be better than the way it is headed now. Now it is just a motley collection of information and I just cannot see the relevance or the point of it. Not to mention that concerning these questions of argumentation the cases just refuse to speak to me. Nada, zilch, zippo, not a beep out of them.
I have to go do some thinking now.
Currently listening to: Baroque (this is supposed to be good for the brain activity after all)