Postcards from a PhD
Over a week into my Christmas break and I only seem to have managed to lightly dent my ‘to read pile’ (pictured). I blame Lacan. No, I really do. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the last week it’s that I can only manage Lacan in short bursts, any more than that makes my head hurt and kills all desire to read for the rest of the day. Bruce Fink’s The Lacanian Subject: Between Language and Jouissance has been really helping though, an impulse investment when I discovered the library’s only copy had been stolen/mis-shelved, I’m going to be coming back to it regularly over the next few years I’m sure. Slavoj Zizek’s Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan Through Popular Culture has been less helpful. If someone could have a word with Zizek about his indexes – obtusely brief, in some cases non-existent – I would really appreciate it. My one goal for the break, and before my next supervisory meeting, is to ‘get to grips’ with Lacan. Oh to have last week back again.
Perhaps only in such circumstances would one consider Proust ‘light reading’, but sinking into the world of Parisian salons and melancholy infatuations seems positively blissful as an alternative to deciphering matheme right now. With this in mind, my new year’s resolution for 2016, so as not to let study-reading entirely eclipse reading for pleasure, is to finish À la recherche du temps perdu. I started In Search of Lost Time last Easter with the vague idea that I would be doing myself a disfavour to embark on a PhD where the themes of time and memory were so central without having at least read some Proust. I also felt ready to read it for the first time and if there’s one thing people seem in agreement on it’s that you won’t manage Proust until you’re ready. I whizzed through the first two volumes, finding them immensely rewarding, but hit the wall three quarters of the way through The Guermantes Way. Having consulted the internet it seems this is quite common and I’m urged to push through with the promise of the pace picking up in volume 4, Sodom and Gomorrah (the best one apparently). I guess I should probably get on with that then. Bonne année!