Dissertation Journal (day 4)

OK at it again, and Friday night to boot! Not moving along as fast I would have liked, am still stuck in the earlier parts of Jonah 1. Not quite spinning my wheels, however. Got sidetracked today with some text criticism and looking up manuscript images online. I love doing that, and its a good thing the Friedberg Geniza site wasn’t working, because I was about ready to come through about 30 fragments of Jonah. This was a good week of work, which really got underway Tuesday (tied up loose ends Monday). I feel a real drive to keep working (which is why I’m sitting here Friday night at 12:02 AM). Nothing has made me seriously doubt the current approach I am taking (how to analyze the plot of Jonah), although I do worry about over-reading. But I’m writing so much that there will be plenty of room to cut things back later and simplify.

Today’s Hours Worked
~8 (the last two this evening were pretty slow…still trying to break that 10 hr mark!)

Today’s Word Count
1,032 (thought I would write more, but had a few substantial footnotes)

Today’s Texts
Jonah 1:4-6

Today’s Books and Articles
Kennicott and de Rossi’s catalogues of MS variants
Hendel, Steps to a New Edition of the Hebrew Bible 
Tov, Textual Criticism
Magonet, Form and Meaning (Jonah studies)

Today’s Music (LPs)
Boards of Canada, Geogaddi
Oneohtrix Point Never, Replica (Saoirse saw the cover when she got home from school and it gave her the heebie jeebies)

Jonah 1:6 in Harley 5709 (British Library)

Since the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, much less emphasis has been put on variant readings in medieval Masoretic manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible. Most are uninteresting, but occasionally they are intriguing. Here is a page from Harley 5709, a parchment codex from the 14th century inscribed in France and held in the British Library (see catalog entry). it contains the Pentateuch, Haftorah (selections from the Prophets), and the Megilloth. Highlighted below is the word וַיִקרָא in Jonah 1:6, “He cried out to,” which replaces the usual reading וַיִּקְרַב “He approached.” What does it mean? Here, one of the crew members of the ship Jonah boarded for Tarshish comes below during a storm to get Jonah to help. He finds him sleeping: “What are you doing, sleeping? Get up and cry out to your god!” (1:5). While the most reliable versions of Jonah have the crew member simply approaching Jonah and haranguing him, this copy here encourages us to see him having to wake him up! Most would (probably rightly) say this is a scribal error, though it is found in several other copies. For comparison, see the clear ב in stead of א on MurXII, a parchment scroll with the 12 minor prophets found among the Dead Sea Scrolls that can be dated to the 1st century.

jon 1.6 in harley 5709
Jon 1:6 in Harley 5709
jon 1.6 in MurXII
Jon 1:6 in MurXII (from the Dead Sea)

Dissertation journal (day 3)

Still doing this thing! Was mostly a writing day, starting my verbal description of my Bremond-influenced schemata of the plot of Jonah. I worked only on the storm episode, and found a way to discuss the way the ship’s captain (if that’s what the word means) tries to get Jonah to help.

I don’t feel like I got too much done this evening, although I solved a few small problems and worked on a footnote. The morning felt very good and optimistic. At that time, I thought maybe in a week’s time I’ll have a draft of the entire “plot” section of the chapter. I think that’s still doable.

I need to dedicate more time to reading and note taking. There’s sort of a mania that sets in to write and pursue the part of the chapter you are working on relentlessly.

I made it to the gym and didn’t eat too much crap today. Had a trip to the grocery store with Saoirse after we dropped Nora off at her dance class. Nora wanted to wear a headband with a crown but I didn’t think that was a good idea…now I regret it, and want to give her the chance to enjoy her imagination tomorrow.

A few weeks ago we moved into the basement of our home, and gave the upstairs to Theresa’s parents. The quarters are tight (2 rooms for 4 people) and there’s only one window (in the kids’ room), but I’m grateful to have a space (our bedroom + family room + office) that is able to be shut off from the rest of the house. There’s ongoing construction upstairs. I am feeling the effects, even after a week or two, of dedicated space and uninterrupted time, coming just a few weeks after (for the first time ever) both kids are in school. The amount of work I’m getting done has gone way up. It helps that my office is also my living space, so I might as well sit at the desk and look at the chapter DOC, right?

Today’s Hours Worked

Today’s Word Count
1,373. Was a good writing day, did most of it in the first few hours of the morning…I should try to get in some writing before the kids wake up.

Today’s Texts
Jonah 1:4-6

Today’s Books and Articles
Stuck with the Bible

Today’s Music
Autechre, NTS Sessions 1 (LP)

Dissertation Journal (Day 2)

A good day. Not too much writing, although was able to put some important ideas down throughout the Jonah outline. I am currently typing with my wrists and arms on p.12-13 of Jouon-Muraoka; was looking for 19th century Hebrew grammars to consult. The main work for today was mapping out event sequences in Jonah. I worked out a sketch for the whole novella, dividing it into two sequences. For the first, I worked out one in detail (the storm at sea scene), and this evening got a great deal of a second sketched out (Yahweh calling Jonah; Jonah fleeing). This has been hugely helpful, and I feel inspired and optimistic about saying some good things. I have been anxious about writing about plot, with the heresy of paraphrase and all looming over my head. I am basing my schemes on Bremond, and am really glad for it. Before, I was sticking to Barthes (“Structural Analysis”), but wasn’t inspired. Making the diagrams is a challenge. I downloaded LibreOffice so I could use LibreOffice Draw (had no MS Office alternative on my PC). It works great!  I miss open source…but I can’t let myself get distracted by Linux and all that right now.

I worked at home for most of the morning, with a nice break midway through when I got a smoothie with Theresa on her way to work. Was feeling like getting away from the computer so I grabbed lunch and a coffee, and took my Bible and a notebook. Got some more work done after dinner, mostly on another schema and a philology trail. I’m feeling sore and stiff, and am hoping to get to the gym tomorrow. As I’m about to go to bed (its 11:25 PM), I’m feeling optimistic but tired.

Starting to plan a trip to Duke for research.

Today was the first day that felt like Fall. In Western NC (apparently…I’ve only lived here just over a year) it gets hot again in August and September, so this is very temporary (it will be back in the 80s in a few days—but sunny). I remember it cooling down a lot in early and mid August, stopping right after school began for the kids. The newspaper said that the Fall colors are going to be typically brilliant. Fall reminds me of when we were first married and living in Dallas, going to the State Fair. Before that, of being a theology grad student with nothing much to do all day. Before that, of having to scoop millions of leaves from an oak tree (not a live oak!) out of my pool when it was “cold” in South Louisiana, when I was in high school. More recently, it reminds me of Chicago, waiting on the corner of Kimbark and 57th to meet Theresa in the late afternoon, during our first year, or taking a trip to the quad with Saoirse when she was 2 1/2 and looking at the leaves changing while she slept in the stroller. When this Fall gets underway, we’ll see if any memories from my first Fall in Black Mountain will stick in this way…

State of the Stack


Today’s Hours Worked
9.5 (6 + 3.5) – feels like a lot compared to the work I have to show for it…

Today’s Word Count
511. Not great, but not a heavy writing day; worked on diagrams instead. Filled in parts of chapter outline. Worked on an elaborate philology footnote.

Today’s Texts
Most of Jonah, esp. 1:13

Today’s Books and Articles
Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative Fiction
Ewald, Ausführliches Lehrbuch der hebräischen Sprache
König, Lehrbuch der hebräischen Grammatik
Guillaume, “The End of Jonah is the Beginning of Wisdom”

Today’s Music

Beethoven, Emperor Concerto (only 1/2…discovered there’s a huge gouge on side A)
Boards of Canada, Music Has the Right to Be Children
David Rawlings, Poor David’s Almanack (with the kids while doing a huge puzzle about the solar system <3)


Dissertation Journal (day 1)

This may not be a good idea, but I’ve decided to start journaling about writing my dissertation, and I am going to do it on my personal blog. As far as I know, nobody reads this blog yet, so right now it is just for me, although it might be nice to produce the receipts to show that I do in fact work on this all the time. I’m constantly feeling inadequate and behind schedule (although I’m getting better at sending stuff to my committee). Writing a dissertation is a project like no other, and it is also supposed to be a first-go at what you want to spend your life doing. So far so good for that, I’m very happy being a scholar. I think my dissertation is going to be good and I am excited about my topic (you can read about it here).

Here is what I envision treating in my journal:

  1. The day’s basic ideas and problems
  2. My work schedule and situation
  3. Noteworthy or new texts and books I have been using
  4. Music I listen to when I work (I don’t listen to music constantly, but usually at some point I have some on)
  5. My feelings

This journal will help me keep the ball rolling, help me deal with the emotional impact of engaging in such a project (and the sometimes overwhelming responsibility that the as yet unachieved future brings, which depends on my dissertation). I don’t plan on “giving away” what I am writing about or doing academic work here.

So here it goes for today:

I recently sent a small piece of my chapter on Jonah to committee members. It tackled three thorny places in the novella that, to me, were obstacles for understanding the plot. That might be a good thing to journal about another time. Now that I am basically happy with my solutions, I am examining the plot of the novella. This is a major topic for each novella I am treating. It is also a place where I will utilize narratology. In light of that, I spent most of the day reading and rereading theory, most of which focuses on the abstract part of storytelling, the story or fabula. It is difficult to translate a concrete narrative into an abstract summary that is accurate and that articulates a deep structure that can be used to talk about the novella as a whole. I looked through Barthes, Todorov, Bal, and Rimmon-Kenan, and through them at the ideas of several others, most notably Bremond. I am very much taken by his approach to mapping out the events of a story, which emphasizes, in a good Aristotelian way, how it is comprised of actions that are traids of potentiality-process-resolution. I spent a lot of time looking at a chart in Rimmon-Kenan that demonstrates this method using Oedipus Rex. I’m excited to apply this to Jonah and began thinking about ways in which to do that, but it was time to pick up the kids. So that’s where I’ll start tomorrow (its just after midnight…so in a matter of hours).

Although I am working on plot, I am thinking ahead to character. I am excited to think about Jonah as a character, and consider whether “prophet” is a character type available to authors at that time. Were the Elijah and Elisha stories, and Jeremiah and Ezekiel, read and considered to contain a certain type of character? Is Jonah an innovation or a completely new thing?

I felt a bit overwhelmed today when facing applying theory to plot. Much of what I was reading was classical narratology, but I need to look at some modern treatments. I’ve got some books on order. Reading some Culler brought this on, since it took away some confidence I had in Bremond. But I am getting closer to having a workable model to apply to my texts. I need to remain confident.

Today’s Word Count
Minimal, but worked on the structure of the Jonah chapter and made notes for various sections.

Today’s Texts
Jonah 4:8

Today’s Books and Articles

Herman and Vivaeck, Handbook of Narrative Analysis 
Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative Fiction
Bal, Narratology
Todorov, Introduction to Poetics
Barthes, “The Structural Analysis of Narrative”
Culler, Structural Poetics

Today’s Music

Djrum – Tournesol
t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 – Antara
Hideki Matsutake – 眠れる夜 (Instrumental)