I apologize if these posts about future plans are too self-indulgent. Perhaps they could be viewed primarily as a way of coping with my own anxiety, and thus you should feel free to skip them. Hopefully there is some value, however, in seeing how I think through my long-term planning.
So. Yesterday I submitted the manuscript of Creepiness to the publisher, having very thoroughly revised it in response to comments generously provided by Anna Kornbluh. I knew it was time to submit when I thought about going back through it one more time and literally could not bring myself to look at the thing anymore — surely there are further improvements that could be made, but I’m in no condition to find them any time in the near future.
Coincidentally, just as I was wrapping up the revision, I finally got the official Italian text for The Use of Bodies. Hence I started on that this morning. The bulk of the text is basically three 100-page books, with a prologue, epilogue, and two “intermezzos” (coming between the major segments). In order to maintain my sanity in the face of such a huge task, I am dividing it into four units mentally (the shorter sections being one unit, then the big three) and planning on treating each of the four segments as its own project, hence allowing for periodic stopping points for revisions and bibliographical matters so that that type of thing doesn’t pile up into one huge appalling mountain of work. It should not be too much of a stretch to get a full draft of all the “little” sections by the time I return to Chicago, leaving me time to track to find references, do some polishing, and send off those sections to a reader by the time the semester begins. Then I should be able to complete one section each semester, leaving the last one for the summer (when I’ve promised to submit the whole thing).
This pace only assumes that I’ll spend my mornings on translation this summer, and I should be able to build in a couple hours most days throughout the semester. Fortunately this fall, my classes are all stacked in the mornings, leaving my time less “broken up” than usual on teaching days — perhaps this will help to make up for the fact that I’ve insanely chosen to overload by doing a course at CTS in the fall. Translating a hundred pages over three months is only a little over one page per day, which sounds reasonable when you put it that way.
In the time that remains in San Francisco, I want to make significant progress toward my co-written book on Agamben with Colby Dickinson (first of all by commenting on all his contributions). We also need to put together a proposal, but since we’re mainly republishing previously written essays on Agamben, 90% of the work is done in any case. I also need to put together a syllabus for my CTS course, which should not be a huge problem given that I’ve already done some variation on the course twice before.
And that brings me to the devil project, which is something I’m growing anxious about. My mental deadline for having a full manuscript is the end of 2015 — if I don’t have something firm and concrete then, I feel like I will have passed the point of “shit or get off the pot,” to put it crassly. It sounds kind of arbitrary, but it’s a compromise between the reality of my translation commitments and my vivid sense that leaving it for “the summer after next” would essentially mean losing all momentum and resigning myself to never actually doing it. Hopefully the opportunity to lecture for the CTS class will give me a good start and, you know, force me to write up my ideas in some preliminary form. Other writing and speaking commitments should contribute similarly.
It’s strange. When I first got my job at Shimer, I found myself suddenly able to think in more open-ended terms — and now the horizon feels every bit as narrow as when I was gearing up to finish my PhD. Part of it is that The Girlfriend’s grad school and career change have injected a new element of uncertainty in my life, but I think the more fundamental issue is that in my first few years of teaching, I saw how easy it was to just kind of get by doing nothing in particular. I have an idea for a concrete project that I think can make a major contribution to my field, and I don’t want to let that slip away, at least not through laziness and thoughtlessness. And if I find that I spend the next year putting off writing it in every possible way, then I’ll need to take that message from myself seriously and let myself give this particular project up.