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the voyage, part 2


When I set up this blog  last spring, I drafted four posts that would appear at the quarter-marks of my sabbatical (no matter what I was actually doing at the time), each of them illustrated with one of the Thomas Cole series Voyage of Life.  (By Cole’s figuring, my sabbatical has moved from Childhood to Youth, which I like, since it looks like I still have lots and lots of time left.  Away with you, Angel of Death!)  Happy coincidence: part 2 commences just as I have crossed an important milestone in the project.  Yesterday I finished my second complete edit of the draft manuscript.  That’s thirty 5,000-word chapters in 23 full days of writing/editing (with very unruly end notes).  I now have a very tall stack of papers next to me, the first and only time the whole thing in all its glory (?) will look like that.

Editing has been just swell;  but now it’s time to face some scary stuff.  After years of drafting, outlining, researching, writing, editing, and being worried about it, it’s time to start the proposal for publishers.  But in the words of the great Aragorn, today is not that day.  Today is Thursday before a three-day weekend, so we will wait until Monday to start the process of selecting a slender portion of the Great Work to send with the proposal (and then eventually get around to winnowing this ridiculous pile into something more reasonable).  Today, I practice a bit of strategic procrastination: planning to sketch out a paper, drawn from the ms., for a conference in June.  The term “strategic procrastination” is my spin on John Perry’s “structured procrastination,” which basically means, have some little, not-horrible things to do when you can’t (for whatever reason) move forward with your big project.  It’s a great concept, swiped from his interesting blog, which you should check out.  That is, if you’ve got nothing better to do.

Cole’s big blustery four-part Voyage of Life is at the National Gallery.

PS This is my 50th post on this site.  Sort of a nice & noteworthy milestone.

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Fun with View Share

View Share project from Digital Humanities Institute at GMU, 15 July 2014


PC HSToday my group was taken on a big, intense, bordering-on grueling march through three od Istanbul’s greatest hits: the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia.  Any one of them could (and probably should) command at least several hours; to do them ( and lunch, and the Basilica Cistern, just for good measure) in one day, during summer tourist season, is ambitious, to say the least.  We were somewhat rushed, as you might imagine; further, I had been most eager for one of the sites in which our time was particularly compressed.  This is the great Byzantine church, and later Ottoman mosque, Hagia Sophia.  Our guide took us through the building and kept to her script, allowing us only 15 minutes to explore on our own.  This was a little vexing, since I was so looking forward to time in this amazing building that I only knew through the drawings and photos that I show my sophomore class every year.   What saved the day was my foresight, a few weeks ago, to download some Byzantine liturgical music, so I plugged in and spent my 10 minutes not madly taking pictures, but taking in the church.  The music had a near-magical effect; the noise of the crowds was drowned out, and all the other people actually seemed to slow down and sort of fade away, like I was gifted with Matrix-like powers of perception.  It was really quite moving, to see the building with something like the soundtrack it was designed to house.  Impressive how digital media and earbuds enlivened and enriched the best 10 minutes I could have spent in that sixth-century cathedral.

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