Sometimes looking at my own weird ways is surprising. For example, I have been having an inordinately hard time putting together my fall Writing 2 class, as you know.
This morning I realized that I am reliving, via this effort, the disaster of my PhD exams. In those exams, I chose to examine a topic I didn't know much about, but wanted to learn about--Science and Literature. Many of my papers and poems too hovered about this subject, and I had long been interested in what gave disciplines the authority and power to overtake one another as the master perspective from which all in a given culture would be judged. So I thought I would learn more about that, and it could inform the work I did from that point onward.
My advisors at UCI thought I had something there, and that my proposal for the list sounded good, very good, in fact. This was a topic that piqued their interests as well, as people teaching critical theory. But the problem was, and indeed still is, that while I am extremely well read in the field of literature, I have not read much history, political science, philosophy, etc. I am not a well-rounded person, but, despite my extensive (if one-sided) education, more like an autodidact in the scope of my knowledge.
The list grew and grew and grew, until it was a bloated and impossible eight-armed monster. I read everything on it. I did! But it was impossible, for me at least, to draw the kinds of conclusions about it that I had hoped. My mind simply did not seem to be made in that way. And more so because I was quickly abandoned by my advisors, who gave me no guidance or indeed advice, at all.
From there, my constitutional weakness, severe anxiety, took over, and I quickly unraveled. The essays I produced in the exam were, because of my ability to write and to discuss individual literary works, excellent, for the most part. However, I totally failed to create an overarching theory that responded to the question I myself had formulated.
I see myself drawn into the same vortex now, perhaps in a sort of neo-Freudian compulsion to relive the trauma of that exam. Maybe by seeing this, I can free myself from the vortex. Hope so.