Mired

I am so deeply in the muck right now with this essay I’m writing about Scotland that I may never get out.

I’ve somehow managed to cram all of these pieces into it so far:

Edmund Husserl
Joseph Beuys
John Locke
Ley lines
Ian Rankin and the John Rebus series (which, at least are set in Edinburgh)
The Phenomenology course I took in undergrad
Assorted Scottish legends and myths, probably slightly mis-told
Clava Cairns
Energy dowsing
Meikle Seggie (I’m still trying to figure out exactly what this is)
Richard DeMarco and the The Road to Meikle Seggie(which may be both physical and spiritual?)
Madeleine L’Engle (natch)
Poststructural thinking on the self/subjectivity (Let the dissertation go already, Elizabeth!)
The construction of caskets
Narnia, specifically The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Roland Barthes
A timeline of the kilt
King George IV
Beuys’ first sculpture teacher in Dusseldorf
Oedipus (briefly)
American churches vs Scottish churches

(Aren’t you dying to read it now?)

I have fallen down the rabbit hole. (And yet not mentioned Alice anywhere in this piece. Which is weird. Alice is one of my go-to references.)

I no longer know what the piece is about. And I’m not sure I can identify the latest draft among the dozens I have saved.

There is just too much. And as if all of this is not enough, I am compelled—compelled!—to go the Scottish Storytelling Center today to see what they have (and not just because there’s a really cute teashop across the street). AND  I’ve requested four more books from the National Library. (Which is, incidentally, across the street from the Elephant House, where JK Rawling allegedly wrote some of Harry Potter—and while this has not been confirmed, it has certainly been capitalized upon. Ian McEwan is rumored to do some writing there as well, but he doesn’t have the same sort of fan base Rawling does.)

(The National Library of Scotland General Reading Room is cool because it’s full of very serious people reading very serious, very old books. You’re not allowed to bring anything in that’s larger than a laptop, you can only use pencil, no pens, and . . .a whole bunch of other rules I’m forgetting. (Sadly there are no sparkling clean white cotton gloves.) You learn all of this from the lecture you get from the guy who takes your picture and then makes your library card, while he keeps gesturing as though he’s about to hand you the card and you keep reaching for it, and then he keeps talking, and it’s all rather awkward. But hell, I’m practically in the Bodleian reading Ashmole 782! Which I’ve also mentioned in this essay.

I didn’t get to do this kind of research for my dissertation, because it was all about relatively new narrative research methods and theories. I did talk about the occasional really old text, like Augustine’s Confessions,but there was really no need for me to hunt down an original manuscript with, like, Augustine’s personal notes in it. (This is rather a long parenthetical thought.))

And then there’s Rosslyn Chapel, which I’ve been to three or four times, but I feel like I need to revisit. (See “ley lines” above. And “energy dowsing.” Oh, and cool legends about the Knights Templar being buried there. I wonder if I can work them in too.)

I heard Nan Talese, Pat Conroy’s editor at Knopf/Doubleday, speak years ago and she told a story about editing Conroy’s books. She said he wrote his novels in bits and pieces and essentially sent her a box of scraps which she then shaped into a novel. I wonder if she is available. (Incidentally, she edits Ian McEwan too. I wonder if she hangs out at the Elephant House.)

As fun and cool and even logical as it sounds to write an essay about Scotland in Scotland, it is way overwhelming.

And I have maybe fallen out the composing process and into the procrastination process. Such a thin line.

IMG_2037

Cutest street in North Berwick

 

 

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