My dissertation anxiety may have gotten the better of me today, though it did not prevent me from getting some work done. The part of me that I'd managed to spur into action last night, the part that had gotten some outlining done, froze today. I realize I could have nudged myself back into gear, forced myself to confront the tauntingly regular blink of the cursor on the page, but I opted instead to read a little bit in Elizabeth Costello.
Now, while re-reading the novel was not my ideal approach towards dissertation work for the day, I did find that the reading reminded me of a couple of things I need to work into the Disgrace outline when I settle down and try to finish it in the next day or two. So, really, I oughtn't complain. Still, I dislike acknowledging that the anxiety surrounding this chapter affects me so thoroughly. This is part of the rationale for "assigning" myself an alternative reading each day, of course. I mean, sometimes one simply needs a break from the intellectual intensity of writing but other times, the need is more emotional or psychological. One needs to remind oneself of certain things, think and feel one's way through a relevant worry before proceeding.
At any rate, I have really been enjoying Elizabeth Costello, which ranks as one of my favorite Coetzee novels. I enjoy the metafictional and philosophical musings (trends that the author continues to develop in both Slow Man and Diary of a Bad Year) Coetzee weaves into the fabric of the narrative and, admittedly, I find the actual ideas the fictional Australian novelist presents in her rationally-flawed, emotionally-charged speeches to be among the more though-provoking passages in contemporary fiction. Elizabeth Costello is one of those novels that I enjoy both as a reader and as a student, a book I feel challenges me intellectually to question my assumptions about the world and the art it produces as well as provides me with a pleasant way to spend a chilly winter evening.
For tomorrow: What I said yesterday for today said today for tomorrow.