Monday, May 03, 2010

reading, conferences, and sunny days

I had made a promise to myself that the next time I had a rainy, grey day to myself, that I would sit down and re-watch Denys Arcand's Le déclin de l'empire américain and, if I had time, Les invasions barbares. Sadly, I didn't do either this weekend, and today is already so sunny that I think I need to get outside.

I spent most of last week working on a paper for a conference I'll be attending in a couple of weeks. (On the May long weekend; thanks a lot, conference organizers!) I love my job very much, but it doesn't give me a lot of opportunity to function at a higher academic level: even when I'm writing lectures, I'm still running in a first year mindset, so trying to break out of it has been a challenge. Also, academic writing is hard work when you've been out of the game for a couple of years; I had forgotten that it actually is work. The paper is about 80% finished, and I've gotten some really terrific feedback from the people that I've showed it to. It's been a long time since I've been excited about something like this.

The other nice thing about the end of the term is that I finally have time to do some reading for myself now. I haven't done as much as I would have liked; I think the most notable thing that I've finished is the graphic novel adaptation of I Am Legend (which is substantially different than the Will Smith film). I am current working on Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, which was given to me by a colleague who used it in his course on haunted house. It's certainly the most interesting thing I've read in a very, very long time; it does its best to destabilize our deep held notions about what text is and what it can do. The correlation between the book's form and its content is formidable: it evokes exactly the right blend of claustrophobia, fear, and curiosity. It has, unfortunately, also left me with a touch of insomnia; I've found it very difficult to quiet my mind after reading.

No comments: