When taking my comprehensive exams years ago, at one of the many moments when I lost sight of the forest of Chinese literature for the trees of individual pieces of scholarship on it all, my advisor suggested I go back to the sources themselves.
It was just what I needed, although I still managed to get a bit lost in the fun of collecting crude images of warriors beheading other warriors.
I’m working, very slowly, on a chapter of my dissertation that includes all kinds of things I’m excited about fitting together. The problem, of course, is that I’m so far into the project that I’ve lost sight of where I’m supposed to be going with it.
So I’m going back to the source. Last week when I tried this, I made it to the second page before I got sidetracked onto a what is likely a rabbit trail. I spent two hours comparing fourteen different editions of the text looking at which fake date each edition had used for the settling of its tale. But at least I have a chart now! Maybe it will be useful?
I’m back at it again today, and have managed to make it 50 pages in, steadfastly fighting past such distractions as this aesthetically jarring lining up of characters on page 6.
Mostly, I’m combatting my urge to race off looking for answers to tiny questions and tenuous connections to other pieces of my research by marking up the text with fluorescent post it notes.