The mind in a grasshopper state

The mind in a grasshopper state

Having now been self-isolating for over 3 weeks and 9 or 10 still to go due to an auto-immune system problem, like other people I have noticed the strange dislocations of time that the lockdown and related responses to the pandemic have brought, because there are few of the usual markers of what is a week, what is a working day and so on. In fact, as one of my colleagues has observed, it’s quite like writing a book when one is most absorbed in this and the usual parameters of time and existence seem in abeyance. But then, we have the luxury of safe accommodation, plentiful running water, sufficient if diminished food, etc; and for many, many people in the world there is instead the constant anxious activity involved in trying to keep safe, adding to that which is involved in maintaining usual life.

But what have I been doing over the last week that is WWW related? I haven’t been writing a book or anything else that requires sustained concentration, for my mind is a bit like a grasshopper at the moment, leaping about. There have been three main sets of activity, along with devouring books of a lighter kind, and sudoku and patience games.

Lady Anne Barnard letters. Completed last week is a Trace looking in detail at one short and seemingly inconsequential letter by her, but which raises some mighty matters of Empire, governance and imperial rule, the start of colonialism. Last week’s blog deals with the same kind of thing although in a more general way. Work on setting up the Anne Barnard letters database (those to Henry Dundas and George Macartney) has continued. The basic information for all the Dundas records has been entered. What remains is the detail, concerned with what and how she writes of race and ethnicity matters. And further to this, there has been a re-reading of her Dundas letters to pick out passages concerned with race and/or ethnicity. Currently the process is in this phase.

Elias, travelling theory and the racialising process. I’m meant to be writing a book chapter on this topic, but the grasshopper in my head is holding it up. Instead I have been pottering on the outskirts and doing everything but writing. Many many PDFs of articles have been read, also a number of books both by Elias and others have been read or re-read. And my original abstract for this now seems rubbish to me. I want to change my mind, but can’t decide which direction in which to take it.  The editors of the edited collection in question have been in touch to say there is a revised timeframe for completion, which takes some of the pressure off. But the grasshopper remains in charge. And academic publishers seem all out to lunch, and don’t much mind when manuscripts and articles will reach them.

Actual letter-writing. Don’t know whether it’s because of my interest in such things, but there has been a discernible upturn in people including myself using email for personal communicative purposes. Also I have been in receipt of a number of actual letters from people who don’t usually communicate by letter or rather haven’t done so since the inception of email and text messaging. Is it a matter of having time on one‘s hands, or the need for a different kind of ‘contact while apart‘  than is bestowed by electronic forms, or something else?


Last updated: 9 April 2020