23 dic. 2005

Long-windedness is rampant in the blogging world. Holbo, Silliman, Abramson, Bérubé, can dash off a 6,000 word squib about something, about anything, and then do the same thing the next day. Meanwhile I'm struggling to reach 5,000 on my Beckett article, after a week or so of working 3 to 4 hours day. On a good day I might add 500 words to my word count--and this is before any real polishing of the prose. Of course, this is scholarly writing where every statement must be backed-up and inserted into a pre-existing academic conversation. It is tiresome but also a good kind of discipline for me, since I like to toss off unsupported opinions, as you well know from reading this blog.

In the case of the article I am now writing, I have to take into account several pre-existing conversations:

Beckett studies
Spanish Cultural Studies and Intellectual History
Studies of Valente, the poet whose work I am studying along with Beckett
Studies of contemporary Spanish poetry
Discourses on modernism generally

I have to balance my different degrees of expertise in each of these fields. I have to anticipate objections, make sure I don't contradict myself too much, that my argument is coherent and cogent and doesn't fall to pieces.

I believe a piece of criticism must deal with a critical problem. That is, it can't just be a description or an interpretation. I like setting the bar high for myself. An article can just be a line on your c.v. Or it can be a line on your c.v. that kicks some ass. But ultimately it is just a line on your c.v.