Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sometimes broken camels are good

As I have already whined on this blog, my time with my family here in Hometown is sapping my will to live interfering with my professional productivity.  This has been frustrating me, since I had hoped against hope that I would be able to crank out another journal article draft this summer and press ahead with my book before I got sucked into the fall semester's teach-o-rama.

Leaving the very unpleasant family issues that I will never blog about, if I have my druthers, I am encountering fresh frustrations with my research material.  One of the difficulties of writing about living human beings is that they keep doing stuff.*  They don't just lie there in their graves, their writings patiently gathering dust in an archive until someone comes along to examine them – possibly while wearing silly little gloves – and bring them to life again.  The good people of Research Country continue to DO STUFF, which is fantastic, but all this stuff they're doing is making it very difficult for me to focus on What This Stuff Means.  This latest burst of news from RC feels, to me, the straw that breaks the camel's back.

All of which to say, I think I have to discard the idea of my Greater Blogland Writing Group article.  The material is so goddamn unstable and unsettled that any pseudology journal worth its salt will probably regard it as an in-depth journalistic piece, rather than pseudology proper.  And really, from what I hear from my colleagues, pseudology journals generally want boiled-down, intensive theory exercises based on concrete material.  The highly empirical stuff I did for that first article just won't fly.  I need time to work out a theoretical analysis for this new stuff elegant enough to bother pestering the journals with it.

And, more insidiously, I'm beginning to feel that I'm using the idea of a new article from almost-scratch as a device for avoiding finishing the motherfucking book.  Seriously, which is more important to my career, the book or the article?  I just shipped off an article for submission days ago; the journal article part of my life is not the most urgent.  The more I look at the material I've drafted for the GBWG article, the more it looks to me like it would be more appropriate – and more useful! – as the planned epilogue of my book.  I cannot let my book get derailed long-term by other shit popping up.  Life throws up enough random obstacles that I don't need to invent extras.

The article is dead.  Long live the book manuscript!

*A historian friend of mine shudders at the thought of trying to deal analytically with anything more recent and unsettled than the tenth century CE.  YMMV.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I dropped the package in the mail this morning.  I guess now I can stop worrying about Article #1 — or at any rate, I get a reprieve of four months.  (Or however long that journal actually takes to get around to such things.)

I don't yet feel a burst of productivity coming on, but at least I no longer feel the weight of the stupid thing on my shoulders.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One down, lots to go

I think I've done all the editing that I can stand do on this [insert expletive-laden adjectives here] article I've been working on for ages.  I polished and polished, and after giving it to a colleague to read over, have polished some more, and added a few more readings to my knowledge bank.  (Very much against my will, but sometimes you need to CYA, you know?)  I can't stand to look at the miserable thing anymore — I feel I need to take a deep breath before I even print out the latest draft to read it over for copyediting purposes.  Someone commented recently on a blog that I read, suggesting that this surge of antipathy toward one's own work in progress is an indicator that it's almost ready to send out.  Sure hope so!

So, assuming this is done and ready to submit to the journal I'm targeting, that means I can knock off precisely zero tasks from my sidebar.  I hadn't even mentioned this article there, because I didn't think it would take so goddamn long to get the revisions done.  I've barely kept up my part of the first wave of the Greater Blogland Writing Group on the second article this year that I'm drafting, and I actually must refer to my computer files to ascertain when I last opened any of the chapters of my book manuscript.  It was a week ago, FYI.  Yeah, I suck.

All of this is affected, of course, by the logistical complications of coming back to the US, but that doesn't excuse my smacked-ass levels of concentration since then.  I desperately want to lay the blame for this at the feet of my family, whom I love and missed while I was abroad, but who also drive me to distraction and completely blow my concentration to hell with every errand they ask me to run, and every visit to relatives that they attempt to impose on me.  And I can't tell them all to suck it, because some of them are putting me up for free here in Hometown, since I of course don't have my own place, and some others have a wide variety of claims on me and my time while I'm in town.  Still, I'm reaching the point where I might have to duck out of the house early each morning and head to a café they don't frequent an undisclosed location, just so I can think straight for an hour or two.

Ahem.  But, as I was saying, the slowdown is still ultimately my responsibility.  I'm trying to tell myself that things will speed up when I have submitted Article #1 and don't have it hanging over my head like a sour little cloud.  Maybe it even will.  Lord knows it'll be easier to focus on the writing group article, which will thereby decrease my guilt and sense of imminent public shame at failing to meet my measly weekly goals.  Sigh.

Writing is hard business, isn't it?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

App suggestions

No, not applications in the usual academic sense: apps.  Yes, I have succumbed to overwhelming temptation, and bought an iPhone today.  It is black and shiny and beautiful.

Er, I mean, it will surely aid me in my scholarly pursuits!  Yeah, that's the ticket.

Anyway, as I learn the ropes of this tiny ship, I'm interested to hear from colleagues who have (and like) iPhones.  What apps do you find useful for your research?  Your teaching?  Your totally unprofessional screwing around?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Goodbye to Research Country

I'm sitting here at the airport now, waiting out the hours until I can board my flight.  Tonight is the last night that the military government is imposing a curfew on the streets, and I wanted to make sure that I didn't run into any snags in my travel plans.  The curfew started at 2:00AM; I got to the airport nearly an hour ahead of that.  I feel a twinge of guilt that I never defrosted the refrigerator before I left the apartment, and very mild annoyance that I had to leave behind rather a lot of white undershirts that couldn't fit into my luggage, but other than that, I'm feeling good about my preparations.

As much as Research City can drive a person nuts on an ordinary day in an ordinary year, let alone in a year of upheaval like 2011 has become, I mostly enjoyed my time here.  (And the data I collected is priceless!)  I'm actually sad to say goodbye to the place, although I now recognize that I might be back a lot sooner than one might think.  I certainly didn't expect to return just two years after I'd left, so now there is less of a sense of finality about this leave-taking.  But still: leave-takings bring a little sadness, even when one is generally glad to be going.

At the same time, I have a lot of excitement about returning to the US, and all the adventures that await over this coming academic year.  It's going to be a big year in the Annals of Koshary, so stay tuned.  Updates shall soon resume from Hometown, USA!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Irresponsible blogging: on 'Amina Arraf'

I am unexpectedly quite angry today, after reading the news.  It's been a long time since I felt compelled to write such a long blog post.

So, in case you haven't heard already, the latest tragic media figure in the Arab Spring, Amina Abdallah Arraf, has been exposed as a hoax.  (Read about it here, here, and here.)  Amina, who blogged at "A Gay Girl in Damascus," and identified as a half-American, half-Syrian lesbian, turns out to be the fictional creation of Thomas MacMaster, an American living in Scotland, and possibly his wife as well, both of whom are apparently graduate students at the University of Edinburgh.  (And you thought you were a handful for your advisor!) 

After crafting in great detail his creation's romantic history – including, as it seems, a long-running correspondence with a Canadian woman who honestly believed that she was conducting a long-distance relationship with Amina – and political opinions, MacMaster got too greedy for publicity, and wrote that she had been abducted by the Syrian secret police.  A lot of people who had been following the blog closely swung into action, and attempted to determine what had happened to Amina, and even to pressure the Syrian government to release her.  And in the media scrum over all this, close readers began to notice discrepancies that caught their attention.  Concurrent with their effort to connect the internet dots and figure out where the blog came from, a woman living in London saw herself splashed all over the front pages of major newspapers as 'Amina Arraf'.  (MacMaster had simply used a bunch of her photographs without her permission to create a visual avatar for his character.)  The woman, who is positively not Amina, pointed this out, and before you could say "harmful publicity stunt," the hoax was revealed.

Where do I start?

I cannot say what was in MacMaster's mind when he initiated his blog.  He seems to have sought to cover his ass by claiming that some of the things he wrote would be factual accounts, some others fictional, and he intended not to tell his readers which was which.  This has the effect of off-loading the work of sifting truth-claims from fiction onto the readers, which is a questionable maneuver, but hey, it's a blog, right?  Not like anyone signed an affidavit or anything.

But once the thing took off and people – real, flesh-and-blood people who sometimes came close to revealing their own identities at their own genuine peril – began commenting on the blog and veering off into discussions and arguments amongst each other based on the assumption that Amina was real and her blog updates factual reports, MacMaster let it ride.  There may have been a point at which he could have stepped in, even in character as his narrative voice, and reminded readers that some of this stuff was fake/fictional, and no one should get too worked up about it.  But honestly, I don't know when that would have been, since the blog seems almost purpose-built to lure people in very serious physical danger into revealing themselves and thereby exposing themselves to blackmail, imprisonment, torture, and murder by security forces in Syria, in Palestine, and other countries where homosexuality is either criminalized or so discriminated against that it may as well be a crime.  (I have seen commenters identify themselves on the blog as being Syrian or Palestinians, some of the latter in Israel and others in the West Bank.  I haven't taken comprehensive stock of the roll call, so I don't know who else participated.) 

Now, if MacMaster had started a blog called "Queer Life in the Arab World" and set it up as a clearinghouse for such issues, then no worries: people would know exactly what it was, or at least what it claimed to be, and could judge for themselves whether it was on the level, a front for some security branch, or whatever.  Queer people in the Arab world have to make those judgment calls all the time.  Or, if he had started a reformist Arab nationalist blog to use as a stick with which to beat the Asad regime, same deal: people could judge for themselves whether or not they wanted to participate in a discourse on that site.  There's no need for him to name himself if he wanted to keep a low profile and let some ideas get into circulation.

Except there is.  The cultural politics of the postcolonial Arab world do not readily allow for a white guy from the US to pretend to be an Arab girl in order to make people warm up to him.  It's not motherfucking sketch comedy, dude.

MacMaster is supposedly a "Middle East activist," which could mean practically anything at all.  From what I've gleaned, he has a history of working as an activist for the Palestinian national cause.  Well, all right; maybe he knows something about that.  Maybe he even knows a bit, somehow or other, about the practical logistics of being gay in a country that legally represses gayness.  But he seems frighteningly clueless about the implications of pretending to be someone that he is not in the Arab world, especially in the context of being an American activist.  American activists of all stripes in the Arab world have "possible CIA plant" written across their foreheads, even when they are totally on the level about their politics and their commitments.  For that matter, so do activists born and raised in the Arab world who pursue any kind of political project at odds with absolutely anything that their home country's regime does.  The very first thing that Arab dictators do when confronted with any kind of political opposition that they don't manage themselves is to accuse it of being a front for US or Israeli interests.  (Perhaps you have noticed such maneuvers this year.)  Since the same regimes have also been feeding their subjects this paranoia on a structural level in state-run schools and news media for many years, this line of attack finds a receptive audience.  All of which to say, oppositional activists must strive to prove their credibility with people who are inclined to view any kind of dissident politics, much less anything associated with the US, the major neocolonial power in the region, with suspicion and distrust.

In this article, MacMaster makes the fatuous claim that he pulled this massive stunt to let people focus on the issues instead of ad hominem attacks:
"I really felt a number of years ago, in discussions on Middle East issues in the US, often when I presented real facts and opinions, the immediate reaction to someone with my name was: 'Why are you anti-American? Why are you anti-Jewish?'
"So I invented a name to talk under that would keep the focus on the actual issue."
Mr MacMaster said he had wanted people to listen to the facts without paying attention to "the man behind the curtain".
To which I respond: you fucking egotistical, self-aggrandizing, chicken-shit jackass!   You really couldn't handle being a "Middle East activist" in your own country?  Did no one mention to you at the sign-up table that you were going to be accused of being a traitor to your country, or an anti-Semite?  Did you really not have any reasonable counter-argument to these accusations?  And please: your name is MacMaster.  Not exactly a crypto-fascist signifier.  As a Jewish person who recognizes the difference between anti-Semitism and political debates about the Arab-Israeli conflict, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that your inability to handle such critiques stems not from your surname, but from the fact that you were incompetent at face-to-face political debate.  Shy little violets who need to resort to false personae online in order to make their political arguments are really not cut out for "Middle East activism."  Just ask anyone who actually has the guts to defend their positions in public, and knows how to field attacks from both sides accusing them of racism or imperialism or whatever else.  Some of them even have Scots-Irish surnames.

Is this man actually so stupid that he thought 'inventing a name to talk under' adequately describes what he did?  For the record, I have invented a name to talk under: Dr. Koshary.  In the meat world, I answer to a different name, but I have never represented myself as other than I am; I've given enough details of my life and my work that I think my readers will recognize that.  Thomas MacMaster invented a fictional persona, a Syrian-American woman, through whom he felt comfortable airing his political opinions or, at the very least, experimenting with voice to see what sounded convincing or right to him.  Since he seems to have some pretensions to literature, it's hard to figure out when he thought he was writing fiction, and when he thought he was writing fact-based polemic.

[Sidebar: MacMaster's fictional blogging persona is the only entity that I have ever seen mount the claim that the Asad regime betrayed the Arab people by "giving away" the Golan Heights.  In fact, the Asad regime is the most stridently and dogmatically Arab nationalist government going these days.  And, for the record, Hafez al-Asad didn't even seize power until 1970, three years after Israel had occupied the Golan.  It's kind of like accusing Queen Victoria of giving away the American colonies.  I can't say for sure that no one in Arab nationalist circles says this, but I can say for certain that it's the first time I've heard the claim.  It feels to me as though MacMaster is either way off the deep end, or essaying a very satirical portrait of over-the-top Syrian-style Arab nationalists.  And in either case, how exactly is that supposed to advance his agenda?]

And then there's the whole lesbian business.  Sexuality, as we scholars of social science [should] know, is complicated stuff, and so I don't see any point in holding up MacMaster's heterosexual union as proof that he's out of his depth.  Who knows what path his sexuality has taken over the years, or what people he has known intimately?  For all I know, he has many close friends who have confided to him tremendous amounts of detail of how they conceive of their sexual identities.  After all, many great novels and plays have been written about characters who were pretty much nothing like their authors.  No one complains that The Tempest is bullshit because Shakespeare wasn't actually a savage wild man who grew up as the son of an evil goddess on an island far from England.  (Do they?)  I don't object to a straight guy writing in a lesbian narrative voice in fiction, as long as it's done well.

But MacMaster not only failed to make clear that he was messing around with pretensions of writing a novel or some other fiction piece, but he led on all sorts of people with whom he was in contact from behind his fictional avatar.  He was conducting a correspondence relationship with that woman in Canada under completely false pretenses.  He was representing himself to people across the Arab world and the LGBT activist world as someone that he was not, living in a place in which he did not live, and subject to certain kinds of direct experiential knowledge that he was not.  He was lying.

His admission that he didn't want people to think about "the man behind the curtain" is even more damning.  You need to own your politics to be taken seriously.  It's why we laugh at writers and politicians and other such public figures who get caught inventing online identities in order to praise themselves and their books on Amazon or Facebook or wherever else.  And the metaphor of the man behind the curtain is deeply unsettling here.  Just look at the blowback that both Syrian anti-regime activists and LGBT activists expect to endure: a sympathetic and beguiling figure in both worlds has been revealed as an American dude with murky motivations.  Bashar al-Asad could hardly have asked for a better media foil to demonstrate to his subjects that the political opposition is all a Trojan horse for US imperialist interests, and that LGBT people in Syria are somehow in league with those interests.  Living under dictatorship makes people prone to concoct conspiracy theories just to have some kind of coherent narrative that explains the reality they encounter.  The fear of 'the man behind the curtain' is very real for people in Syria, just as it is for people in Research Country, not only because of concerns about US domination but also because a repressive police state tends to develop the habit of entrapping people as 'enemies of the state' with innocent-seeming conversations that end up in the secret police offices.

Politics is an intensely personal business in many places, but especially in Syria, where people are understood to hold political loyalties based on a complex network of religious and familial ties.  The idea that MacMaster believes that he can get people to focus on the issues he raises without worrying about the source of the information is head-slappingly naïve at best.  It's not as if his avatar were a near-blank cipher that merely announced itself as a narrative voice and made no claims of particular identity, like some kind of accent-less voice emanating from a blank screen.  He represented himself as a Sunni Muslim, a Syrian-American, a lesbian.  He invented an entire deep-background for his avatar in the ways that Syrians reckon personal identity.  And they liked Amina because all of those details together added up to a brave and compelling person, who may have had her disagreements with some readers but seemed to have earned her self-knowledge the hard way.  She could criticize the Syrian government as an Arab nationalist, and criticize the Western-based LGBT rights movement as a proudly out lesbian.  Her critiques mattered partly because she was seen as invested in making those institutions better, not in knocking them down from the outside.

And now it comes out that she was an insider to none of those things, as her readers understood her to be.  Even if her creator really believes every word that he wrote in her voice, he is an outsider to all of those things, which makes a real difference.  It is not a fatal flaw to be an outsider with a critique to offer, but it is a subject position that one must acknowledge and accept.  Some people won't listen to an outsider no matter what, and that is sad and frustrating, but that is not sufficient justification to invent a fictional character and interact with the world through that creation.

Every LGBT activist in Syria with whom MacMaster was in contact must be in a heightened state of paranoia right now, wondering who exactly was that person behind Amina's emails, and what consequences they might face for having corresponded with that email address.  As if those people didn't have enough to worry about nowadays!  MacMaster's stunt is an act of reckless endangerment: people in Syria who read that blog actually called up governmental offices asking about Amina Arraf's whereabouts.  They have outed themselves as readers of the blog, which in the secret police's perspective is pretty much outing themselves as LGBT, and more likely than not, opposed to the Asad regime.  And, now that this has been exposed as a hoax, those well-meaning people have also outed themselves as potential dupes of yet another American indulging in some skullduggery, as the secret police will explain to some of them in interrogation cells.

I am appalled to consider all of this, and even more so to see that MacMaster seems unapologetic about those real-world consequences while continuing to push his claim that people should focus on "the issues."  He does not understand that he has become the issue, and it will take a long time for his erstwhile readers and fans to sort through all this and try to see the good intentions behind the erroneous actions.  I mean, if they aren't tortured and killed first.  I half-expect to see a succession of news stories in the next few days in which MacMaster either walks back some of his claims of factuality of material or admits that he made up huge amounts of reported information wholesale because it sounded consonant with other things he had heard.  I also expect to hear about some terrible things happening to people who don't deserve such misery, all because they bought into the fruits of MacMaster's atrocious judgment.  I wonder: what will he have to say about that?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

RBOC, End of Research Edition

  • Dr. Crazy has a great post about the ways that grad school affects most of us on a long-term traumatic level.  Spoiler alert: the best line is the final one.  "Summation: critical thinking is a motherfucker and it will fuck your shit up."
  • I'm having a little trouble keeping my mind focused on writing at the moment, because I'm going home in just a few days.  I'm dawdling on packing up everything, which is stupid, because a frequent issue for researchers doing long-term study in Research City is how to transport all the stuff they acquired.  Last time I did this, I had to go so far as to buy a humongous new suitcase, a situation I'd like to avoid this time.  But I won't know if I need another suitcase if I don't start packing everything now.  Crap.  I hate packing.  At least I have relatively few books to transport this time.
  • Did I mention that I'm having trouble focusing on my writing?  I think I did, right before I veered off into the suitcase issue.  So yeah, it's a little hard to write, with all kinds of exigencies around to deal with.  I'm just barely engaged with the online writing group, since I have trouble remembering to check in.  Lack of routine makes these things more difficult, you know?  And since I'm trying to multi-task my book manuscript and two separate journal articles, as well as struggling to keep up my field notes, writing everything that I should be writing at the moment feels like herding cats.  (Oh, and thanks to Anthea for introducing me to a seriously funny commercial featuring professional cat herders!)  Still, I'm slowly making progress on all fronts.  Slowly.  Once I have a little time to breathe in the States – and that will be a pretty short window of time, I have to admit to myself – I need to bang this shit out.  The mostly-developed article needs to be polished up and submitted to the target journal, and I need to get a dirty, ugly, functional first draft of the book manuscript on the scene so I can structure a convincing book prospectus and tone up the MS itself.  As always, I struggle with drafting perfection versus drafting a draft that can then be improved.  Sigh.
  • I've pretty much finished my research here, just because I'm running out of time and whatever I end up with is inevitably a kind of synchronic snapshot of Research City at a particular historical moment.  But wow, so much is still going on!  If I expanded my field notes to track everything going on in the region, rather than RC and its associated country, I'd die of starvation while trying to finish the field notes for a single day.  Interesting times we're seeing over here.
  • The 2011-2012 job hunt has already begun!  (Sob!)  My success at scoring a VAP in early May allowed me to push the job hunt out of my mind entirely for...let's see, counting the days...thirty-nine days.  Yep.  That afterglow fades, don't it?  Universities have begun to post their want ads for positions to start in the Fall 2012 semester, so I'll have to keep an eye on this stuff all summer.  I wonder: is there any point in bothering my soon-to-be-colleagues for letters of reference?  I can't imagine what they could say about me before they have worked with me and gotten to know me a little, so I assume that they only reasonable path for the early applications is to call up my erstwhile professors and ask them for an encore performance for Fall 2011.  My thought is that, by the wintertime, when I'll have been teaching for a semester,  I should really switch over to tapping colleagues, my department chair, etc.  I'll look foolish if I'm employed somewhere and still calling upon former advisors from several years ago for recs, won't I?
  • Lady Gaga continues to colonize my brain.  I resisted for a while, but she's devilishly persistent.  I started loving at least some of her music a while ago, as I have mentioned on a few occasions.  I also admire her politics, which helps a little: lots of famous people make little feel-good statements about this or that to curry favor with the public, but not a lot of celebrities are willing to take a serious economic penalty by pulling out of an endorsement deal with a company they consider oppressive.  I'm a harder sell on her videos, though; I'm not a huge fan of big, weird music videos that turn upon images that have no purpose other than to call attention to themselves.  I find it slightly unsettling, really. 
    I'm kind of surprised, then, that I'm starting to dig the video for Born This Way.  In some ways, I can't even explain why, since it's very much of a piece with her other videos: images of the monstrous, the self-consciously freakish, the reality-bending.  But something clicked for me here, and I'm perfectly willing to admit that it may be because I am irredeemably tethered to text, and I didn't get the aesthetic until I became familiar with the lyrics to the song.  Somehow, though, that did the trick: the monstrous, the freakish, the surreal, mixed in with the plain old gender-bending, the androgynous, the queer.  And then I got it.  Gaga is taking drag as a broad-based visual metaphor, expanding it to include a wide variety of costumes and roles that (please forgive the scare quotes) "aren't real."  Look at that get-up of hers as the tuxedo-clad corpse — that's a serious genderfuck costume as well as a serious Halloween costume.  And Halloween itself, as I once heard someone observe, is "the only holiday with a distinctly gay feel to it."  Whoa, is someone working on this?  I'd love to read an article on this stuff!
  • I think I just spent more time crafting this blog post than I have spent so far today working on my professional writing.  Have I mentioned that I'm having trouble focusing on my writing lately?  Well, I am.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Teaching schedule FML

I finally know all of my teaching assignments for the fall semester.  As expected, it's four sections of the same Intro to Pseudology course.  And, as I'd hoped for syllabus-planning purposes, all sections are on the MWF schedule.  Somewhat less expected, although perhaps without reason, is that my first class of the day is at 8:00AM. 


I don't think I even took any 8:00AM classes in four years of college, and of course my professors in grad school never dreamed of teaching a seminar course that early.  I don't think even my RC-ish language instructor ever scheduled anything that early, and those classes were at least half-full of undergrads at the elementary and intermediate levels.


This means that, depending on where I rent a place in the as-yet-lacking-a-pseudonym town, I may have to rise at 6:00AM to make sure that I can rise, shower, shave, and caffeinate myself in order to dive into a day of teaching that does not end, in the classroom(s), until 4:00PM.


I know it's churlish to complain about these trivialities when it's a good first job to land, so I'll let it go there.  But fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck, man, I hate getting up early for this stuff!  I guess there's always an outside possibility that I'll surprise myself by learning to love it, and start rising at 5:00AM to maintain my early-morning writing sessions before hitting the world.  But I seriously fucking doubt it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Writing for the summer

I've been having some computer trouble over the last week, and I finally resolved it two nights ago.  (Being in Research Country means that I have to stay up very late to call anyone in the US, including Apple Support.)  This meant, among other things, that I had expanding internet access, since my computer no longer overheated after an hour of use.  Predictably, I logged on to the internet yesterday morning and glutted on it all day, and got no work done.  It was pathetic.

Today, I sat down at the machine this morning, mindful of my debauchery yesterday, and avoided my USB modem for several hours.  Added 4,000 words to my book manuscript.  Vive la différence.

In a way, I'm still procrastinating on the hard work: those new words mostly came from bits I've carved out of my dissertation, and some stuff that came straight out of my field notes and has never been shown to others before.  So basically, a bunch of cut-and-pasted stuff.  It's perfectly useful material, but I am keenly aware that I have not written anything new for a while now.  That situation must come to an end.

I'm optimistic that this is going somewhere good, though.  I combined two of my hypothesized chapters yesterday, which left me with only four chapters on my outline, and even I have to admit that that's really too short and looks unprofessional within my discipline.  This morning, while forcing myself to confront the beast without hiding behind distractions, I brainstormed a new chapter that could fit in nicely with the other material.  Thus, the cut-and-pastes: I haven't written about this stuff before in large measure, so I had to go back to my primary source data and see what was there.  The new stuff, as I hope, will be particularly appropriate (and attractive to publishers!) in coordination with the epilogue I need to draft to account for all of the recent developments coming out of this year's sociopolitical earthquake.

Oh, and since I haven't yet accounted for myself this week for the summertime writing workshop on my own blog, I'll own up: I did basically fuck-all in terms of the article that I said I would write with the workshop's help.  As I rationalized reported to the workshop on Notorious Ph.D.'s blog, I thought a little about it on paper: I often sketch out theoretical ideas as well as report events in my field notes (doesn't everyone?), and I've been trying to wrap my brain around some of the broader aspects of the stuff the article will be on.  I've been dawdling about putting all of this stuff in one big document, for reasons only the gods of writing and procrastination could possibly explain.  Now that I've put in two hours of development on my book today, perhaps I'll feel up to doing what I told the workshop I'd do, so I don't embarrass myself in front of dozens of blogging peers.