The world was all before them

What fit of madness was it that possessed me when I decided to start this blog? What could possibly have sucked me in at this very odd time, when a daily writing slog already awaits me? I have told my advisor that I will have a draft of my dissertation's second chapter to him on the first of June (although it hardly seems likely that he remembers), so I am now dutifully churning out three or four giddy, labyrinthine pages a day in preparation for that grim deadline.

I feel a particularly strong degree of dread about this initial post - it seems to me that all bloggers must fill their opening entries with banalities like this, asking themselves what they are doing in this particular corner of cyberspace and for whom they might conceivably be writing. This anxiety reminds me of a creative writing student I had this past semester who thought all of his best ideas were derivative, the most obvious possible responses to the prompts simply because they were responses that felt right and went smoothly. Whether this is one of my best ideas remains to be seen....

At any rate, at the moment I will treat this blog rather like a conveniently omnipresent journal (not prone to disappearance into the oblivion of closets and suitcases like more worldly, material, paper-and-ink journals) of what I read and what I see.

I suppose the motivating factor here is my love of lists, or rather, the slightly compulsive tendency I have to view any list as a personal challenge, which cannot ... MUST not be ignored for the sake of individual honor and the family name.

I have recently embarked on two rather lengthy lists. The first was sparked by my mother's purchase of a devilish book with the title "1001 Movies you Must see before you Die." Surely even the most anti-canonical of minds could not have failed to rise to that sort of a challenge. So about a year and a half ago I resolved to conquer this list, making my way through it chronologically from its very beginnings - the Adam and Eve of "A Trip to the Moon" (1902) and "The Great Train Robbery" (1903). I am now somewhere in 1944, entrenched in metaphorized war-time patriotism, although I must admit my addiction to TiVo, TCM, and IFC (and my newfound addiction to FMC, of all things) has led me slightly off the beaten path of perfect chronology.

It recently occurred to me that I should be making some sort of an effort to fix these movies in my memory by creating a chronicle, turning my rather extracurricular interest in cinema into a more literary effort, more decorous for an ABD in English (may I mention, rather pompously, that I am now slightly farther through my graduate program than David Duchovny ever got... Perhaps if I looked better in a red speedo, or could react more stone-facedly to gooey aliens who most closely resemble overripe blue cheese, then I would not be facing a daily need to write three more pages about the postcolonial passion for rehearsal drama.). I have also recently (about two months ago) started on a second list from a second devilish book, "1001 Books you Must Read before you Die," and this one promises to be more of a life-long commitment. This quixotic pursuit began when my friend revealed that she had written several of the articles in the book, and added (tauntingly, I thought) that it was surely impossible to read all 1,001 books in a single lifetime. I threw her a rebellious look.

After a year and a half of work on the Film list (and a lifetime of spectatorship before that) I have seen 410/1001. This number is a particular source of pride to me since after 8 years of higher education devoted to the study of literature, I have only read 146/1001 of the books. Notice how I put that observation in positive terms, cleverly disguising my profound shame and trepidation at the long literary road ahead.

The long and the short of it is that I hope to save these movies and books from the blur of rapid consumption to which they have currently been consigned by jotting down a few thought here from time to time.

Apologies for leaving you with a few lines of my least favorite poet (although they are my favorite lines of his):

"The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and providence their guide:
They hand in hand with wandering step sand slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way."

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