Just finished a chunk of the paper for the great man, and before he tears into it, I’m thinking he can’t. The moods of study are many: it is as if one undertakes a journey to Mt. Doom as a routine . . . if one exaggerates what one does, glorifying it . . . slightly. Here are the discernible stages:
1 Naïve curiosity. Here is something with possible interest, and I think I see my way through it.
2 Bibliographical expansion. Wow, I didn’t think so many people would write so many bewildering things about it. Still, here’s something along the lines I was thinking.
3 First defeat. Wait, they already thoroughly dealt with this. All this work only to return to square one.
4 Perseverance. Ok, this was a mistake, I wish I had thought about this better. I’ll pick up this random thread here and out of sheer despair see where it leads.
5 Exhilaration. Wow, I’ve just hit on the most important discovery in this subject the world has ever known, and this chump over here totally overlooked it.
6 Second defeat. Wow, it was the deadest end ever, no wonder that genius overlooked it.
7 Perseverance. Ok, here’s an even less likely thread I’m going to pick up just because I don’t feel like getting anywhere today, I simply don’t care.
8 Second wind. Wait, this is not panning out as I expected. There is actual promise here, and by now my judgment can be sounder than perhaps the original evaluation ever had a hope of being, right?
9 Caution. Is that a catastrophe looming, a great wind to put out the small flame of my modest inquiry? Please go away.
10 Progress. Can it be that I actually have made headway after all this time? There is a mountain of stuff I’ve somehow accumulated. Wish I had known starting out that I’d end up with this; I’d have proceeded with better order and more carefully.
11 Modesty. I am quick to notice some difficulties, not insurmountable, but certainly requiring some concerted effort.
12 Discouragement. A lot of concerted effort.
13 Gleam of hope. It does seem to be coming together.
14 Discouragement. How much is enough effort?
15 Death. I don’t think this thing will ever fly. Is starting all over something I can afford at this stage to contemplate? I can’t, but it is being borne in on me that I may have to. (The high pitch of anxiety is here reached.)
16 Burial. I’m walking away from this. I’m going to binge on something not school related for an indefinite period, not because it will help but because I see I am not cut out for study—that is something other people do.
15 Return. Ok, that was too much time squandered, but I have to see if there’s anything in all that labor and there’s probably a mountain of . . . wait, this is material one can perhaps work with. If I can summon some energy . . .
16 Yay! That’s one minor project whose end may be in sight! Time for the victory lap.
17 Eternal dilemma. Maybe in sight. Mixed feelings about deadline—wanting it to deliver me, not wanting it to chop into things arbitrarily.
18 Multiply times number of classes and repeat every semester.