Tricks and traces.

My writing here goes up and down, I know; this semester, though, you can pretty much assume that a small day in the Cabinet is a big day in my research. Today: much of a biography that I find so, so winning. For example: "She liked fundamentals, the bones of things, and would, if she could, have touched and handled materials." For example: "She still read Mathematics gently." For example: "The impression that this lady produced...was reassuring and pleasant--in spite of having cigarette ashes in the flounces of her skirt."

And today: more fun with microfiche, continuing to gather together writings to which it just so happens that I have the best (in fact, the only) access in Ohio. And so, overall, today: three or four steps closer to the next big thing, which seems to be tracking me as much as I am tracking it.

Oh, oh, and okay: here's one for the academics in the house. Even some of you who aren't academics may know the Penn Call for Papers (CFP) mailing list, which disseminates to thousands of people CFPs on all literary and cultural topics imaginable. For a long time now, I've watched with no small amount of dread and/or loathing as those things have filtered into my CFP mailbox by the tens and twenties. Tonight, about fifty arrived while I was downstairs photocopying something in the officehouse. My first response was, as usual, to consider unsubscribing from the CFP list altogether. And yet somehow I fear to do so. I've been a subscriber for nearly a decade (and generally the whole thing is a feat of totally admirable administrative stupendosity). Somewhere, deep down, I must believe I'll get a prize (or perhaps just learn something useful) if I hang in there long enough.