Thursday, August 26, 2010

Away we go - a disclaimer

I'm sitting in Starbucks right now. There is a car pulling up to the light outside with only its parking lights on, not its headlights. That is the fourth car I have seen tonight, starting when I left my house at dusk for Starbucks, that was improperly lighted. I wonder if that is a sign of some sort?

But enough about the external world. This blog is designed to be more internally focused then anything I have ever put on the Internet. Normally when I publish a blog or podcast on the Internet I expect, at the very least, a couple friends to check it out. Odds are the consumer of my creation is named "Chris." If Chris ever becomes the most popular name in the United States I will lead off my book proposal with that fact.

This blog is not designed for Chris, Chris, or any of my other friends. It is designed for...
  • Me, when it comes time to study
  • Maybe Adam and Alex, my classmates who happen to be studying for similar comps this year. They are at least as brilliant as I am, so it might only be worth a skim for them.
  • Maybe my advisor, Prof. LQ, if I feel like giving her this link. I haven't decided if I will yet. Probably.
Of course, other people might stumble onto this blog. I can imagine...
  • My dad checking on it regularly. Maybe my mom if she bookmarks it. I live in my parents basement, and I can already tell they'll keep me on track merely by inquiring how I'm doing.
  • Chris, Chris, or any of my other friends checking it out once in a while if they're super-bored and wondering how far I've gotten in my odyssey.
  • Some historian (Professor, student, or amateur) somewhere hitting on this site while googling one of the books I've read. They're welcome to take as little or as much as they want from this blog. Students can even plagiarize, if they like, although if they do, I hope they're racked with guilty and consumed by shame at their own cowardice. I have never cheated at school, although I have cheated at lower tier card games like a-hole, BS, and war. Don't cheat at school.
I have to read 120 books. Fifty for my major field - Modern American Cultural History, advised by Prof LQ. Thirty-five each for my two minor fields - TBD, but I'm planning for Modern American "Political" (traditional?) History advised by Prof DB and Media Studies (outside of the history department) advised by Prof BT.

Right now, my deadline is May. I want to have my comps done before summer 2011. I am supposed to have my comps done by the end of my third year. We shall see.

I think there is a word for writing that means something like vomiting onto the page, or something. I can't think of the word I am thinking of. Irregardless... (And yes, I know irregardless means the same thing as regardless and shouldn't even be a word. Like Kent Brockman says "tax avoision" instead of "tax evasion" I say "irregardless" instead of "regardless." It's one of my schticks.) Irregardless, my writing style in this blog is going to be one of vomiting my thoughts about each book into each post. It's not going to be pretty, but hopefully it will serve my purposes. If you want a proper review, go to JSTOR. I'm not even going to spell and grammar check!

As you can tell, this isn't a blog where I'm going to bare my soul, unless a book reaches me that deeply. But since I'm laying out all my cards, I should admit to one of my deepest, darkest secrets... I don't love to read. At least, I don't love to read as much as I probably should love to read as a history PhD. Really good writing, really good stories, and, to a lesser extent, really brilliant stuff expressed in writing, can get me excited, but reading a full academic-style book tends to be a slog for me. If this were a comprehensive examination of how much I learned from 100 lectures, or even 100 courses, I'd be fine. But academia works through writing, and while I love to write, I don't love to read.

After listening to several audiobooks this summer, I think I might absorb material better if I'm listening rather than reading. It would be really nice to break up this odyssey with a smattering of books in recorded audio form. Alas, few of my books are available on audiobook, and if they are they tend to be only available to blind and dyslexic. (If anyone can get me access to these books, let me know. I'm serious. I'd be willing to pay, or donate a fair amount to Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic to balance ethical issues of a non-blind, non-dyslexic person using them. I'm TOTALLY serious.) Bottom line, this is going to be a long and difficult road for me. Like a marathon. Harder than a marathon.

I don't even know who I'm talking to. Whoever has read this far, consider yourself disclaimed.

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