Two very different triumphs occurred over the past three weeks: I passed my exam and finished my taxes! Apparently my department head also received some very positive comments from my exam chair, which bodes well especially because I'm ultimately hoping she (the chair) will become a primary dissertation advisor. This was tempered by a bout of illness that started immediately after the exam, and continued for the next two weeks; it's only just now ended thanks to lovely pink antibiotics. I'm only just now emerging from the mental exhaustion caused by the one and the physical lassitude caused by the other.
Part of that emergence is a return to blogging; part is a realization that I now have the mental space and energy to be interested in things again! In the spirit, I'll leave you with this passage I recently reread from Barbara Johnson's essay "Nothing Fails Like Success":
If I perceive my ignorance as a gap in knowledge instead of an imperative that changes the very nature of what I think I know, then I do not truly experience my ignorance. The surprise of otherness is that moment when a new form of ignorance is suddenly activated as an imperative.
The "imperative" that I'm feeling right now -- the imperative to resume reading and synthesizing -- isn't Johnson's imperative to encounter the otherness of a text with a willingness to reflect and restructure, rather than with hostility. But the optimism of her imperative helped me put a positive spin on what can sometimes feel like an overwhelming pressure to already have read all of the things I'm interested in.