I've been working with questions recently. To be specific, I'm in the place where I try to convince myself that it's OK to sit with my questions. I want to sit them across the room from me and stare them down a little, rather than trying to wrestle them to the desk and wring the truth out of them.
Some of these questions are frustrating and emotionally charged meta-questions about the direction of my work, e.g. can all of the ideas I've been bouncing around (like the bubbles in that screen saver, bouncing quietly off one another) really form a conceptual constellation meaningful enough to become a dissertation? Sitting on that one for a while (perhaps in the slightly violent wrestling sense mentioned above), I did finally come to a soupçon of an answer in the form of a diagram. This is the last thing I expected from myself, since I struggle with outlines, and have never liked mind-mapping. But when the ideas appeared to me in this form, and then the apparition magically survived several hours of not being written down to finally form a lumpy little lopsided circle diagram in my notebook... well, I was moved enough to download the app mindly, which I'm still playing with. I'll post more on that when I have had more time to decide how I feel about it.
Some other questions, answered or unanswered, that I've posed to myself recently:
Could there be a flow to the week?
This appears in my notebook between notes from panels at this spring's ACLA, followed by daily assignments that organize my days into categories: reading, poetry; reading, theory; writing; reading, whatever I want (I love Sundays!). I've been finding this method helpful ever since, and I'm still evolving it as I try it out in the real world and see how well I anticipated the ebb and flow of my capacities throughout the week.
What are some dangerous things that are enjoyable?
I used this as a warm-up for one of the writing days that resulted from the weekly flow system. A list follows, including "driving in the mist," "talking to strangers in bars," "rolling down hills," "drinking champagne," "climbing trees," and then a parenthetical note that the combination of the last two would be especially dangerous, and perhaps especially enjoyable.
Earl grey vanilla latte: can this be made into a cake?
This is followed from speculations on how this could be done. I hope to try it out this summer sometime, but the plan for the May Day cake has already been concocted & recorded.
& most recently:
What Is the difference between being a theorist and being a philosopher nowadays?
And finally, I feel that now I should ask:
Am I giving my brain room to breathe?
To which answers the damning evidence of this post, which poured right out as soon as I switched out my constant podcast ear-material for some music. This must become a mantra for me: stop and process.