Rather than reading beyond Laura Miller’s quote on “creeping distractibility” (where was that from?) in review of Winifred Gallagher’s Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life (thanks, Humanist) and then checking how much it costs on Amazon, remembering while there that I wanted to look up works by Christopher Lasch and Richard Rorty, suggested to me by George Scialabba’s Divided Mind, downloaded because my mother wrote a letter to me asking if I’d heard of George (Shalivo???) or something she heard on NPR, because he had written a book that sounds interesting–What are Intellectuals Good For?–I think I’d better get back to work.
While I would note that Scialabba’s Divided Mind is worth the download–I finished the little gem this afternoon–what I really need to do is grade two sets of papers and work on an essay. I have graded a little over a third of the essays. But I really need to get back to transcribing Uncle Tom’s Cabin, though I don’t know whether I should do that or collate the four versions that I now have, which should I discover that illustrated edition and the paperback version have even more variants than are presently known, I’ll really be doing what I want to do. And it should help the planned grant application.
Or maybe I should resume listening to the German tapes from Deutsche-Welle, so nice now that I’ve figured out how to use the MP3 player instead of the old CD route. Or maybe really work at Blackmon’s Slavery by Another Name, which I also started today. And then, as I mused on the essay, there are the two little volumes by Montaigne and Bacon, not to mention that I also picked up Fish’s Surpised by Sin and Greenblatt’s Renaissance Self-Fashioning. Department meeting prep? Grad faculty meeting prep? Dot Porter’s essay linked from SHARP?
Submit copyright requests for summer class? Submit ILL requests for Stowe essay I mean to get back to, repair the CD drive on the old laptop, uninstall xMetal from the Virtual PC on the laptop, re-install and update on the desktop PC, order the loupe for collating, finish up earlier post on paperback editions of UTC, visually collate two paperbacks on my desk, go back and revise essay on race and space from STS, begin work on the essay on the many current editions of UTC? Call the HelpDesk about my continuing troubles with email? Worry about whether the sense of unease among the student body will lead to more fires and clashes with police this weekend at Kent State?
Or maybe I should be hopeful about the grant application, and get started on that, plan for class tomorrow, set up a dentist appointment, an eye appointment, make kolaches to take to class, make the crust for the pie I’ve been promising to bake since I bought the frozen cherries on sale 3 weeks ago.
Mind unmanageable I bequeath thee to the ether, and send myself back to work. But before I go, L. Frank Baum wrote “Man does not live by bread alone but principally by catchwords,” at least according to Edward Wagenknecht in Utopia Americana (34). At least I know Wagenknecht said Baum did, but not that he did, because I just don’t know and have not the presence of mind to find out. My distractibility is not creeping, it’s at no petty pace, day to day. It’s a wildfire burning.