Zartman, J. One Month, Bibliographies and Neoplatonism: A Brief Account of Various and Sundry Things Academically but Not Logically Lumped Together. Philadelphia: WordPress, 2015.

Tomorrow it will be one month since we arrived in Philadelphia and set up. Things are starting to fall into a pattern, and that is good if you’re going to get things done. I begin to gather momentum.

I spent four hours in the library this morning. Reading from time to time, but mostly working on a bibliography. Four hours and two pages. I didn’t realize that kind of work took so long.

Of course, part of it is the three-story library and me running up and down the stairs to find page numbers, or dictionary entries and such. I want to get familiar with the physical location of the books. One of the first things I did at Central was to go up and down the stacks and read the titles. I’d like to do that here a bit more. At present I don’t because I don’t feel I’ve accomplished enough, so I take every excuse to run around the building and to dip from time to time into things I’m not really doing.

Part of it also is that I have to relearn, with the SBL Handbook in hand, exactly how to organize and put things in the standard pattern expected. Still not sure how many spaces the long line for an author’s subsequent entries is; I’m doing ten, but I’m thinking it could be eight.

And part of it is that it really is the first time I begin with a bibliography. That’s what the great man told me to do, so that’s what I’m doing, but I’ve always compiled bibliographies at the end of my research. It meant I typed the information in as footnotes and my bibliographies were little more than works cited. It allows one to make sure one’s footnotes do not contain the whole entry more than once, you know. Doing that, I was familiar with all the works by the time I did the bibliography, and this is, in that sense also, a different experience.

Also, I can’t check stuff out at the moment, which might somewhat alter my present procedure. I’d be reading more if I were, and that would lead to a more conventional way of getting at the bibliography than computer searches. Technology truly does alienate from being. I think about that a lot nowadays, the statement of Heidegger, because they have online registration. Nothing stresses me out like having the first encounter be by computer because nothing says more clearly that we will only deal with you as humans normally would, face to face, as a last resort.

I did get to talk face to face with the great man, though not with the registrar (and I remember with curious nostalgia when I used to be shown a chart by the registrar, in his office, and we would talk about it; then he would give me some little cards and help me fill them out, and I turned them in: that was registering; Central was great). He’s easy-going. I told him I want to read Plotinus, and I think he’ll let me as long as he sees it going toward the 16th and 17th Centuries. So what I’m trying to see is if I can come up with a bibliography about Neoplatonism and Christianity throughout the ages, and see if he’ll let me structure it into a series of independent studies leading up to the centuries in question. That’s the great thing about history: you have to take what happened before into account, and after that, who cares?

I want to get a handle on Plotinus because (1) I want to understand what he and his followers were about, (2) how the Church Father’s appropriated him, specially Pseudo Dionysius, but he’s important also for Anselm, Augustine and the Cappadocian Fathers, at least, (3) what that then does for mysticism, (4) which was a late-Medieval phenomenon, you know. Evelyn Underhill’s book suggested to me this sequence: Philosophers, Theologians, Mystics. Why is that, then? And (5) the Renaissance and all the things going on there, which is probably where I’ll end up. Having a handle on Plotinus is part of understanding Ficino.

Of course it may not work out. But I’ll have regained some of the formatting details I’ve lost and be acquainted with some of the more interesting reaches of the WTS library, and the curious possibilities of the rather well-stocked Free Library of Philadelphia.

Church Father’s appropriated him, specially Pseudo Dionysius, but he’s important also for Anselm, Augustine and the Cappadocian Fathers, at least, (3) what that then does for mysticism, (4) which was a late-Medieval phenomenon, you know. Evelyn Underhill’s book suggested to me this sequence: Philosophers, Theologians, Mystics. Why is that, then? And (5) the Renaissance and all the things going on there, which is probably where I’ll end up. Having a handle on Plotinus is part of understanding Ficino.

Of course it may not work out. But I’ll have regained some of the formatting details I’ve lost and be acquainted with some of the more interesting reaches of the WTS library, and the curious possibilities of the rather well-stocked Free Library of Philadelphia.

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