I just received word from my committee chair that I am ready to defend my Master’s thesis, probably this Thursday. I feel kind of strange about it. I’ve resisted tweaking on the draft until I see the final comments, but from what he said it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to get polished. In an email comment, he said that I might deal with Kenneth Burke a little more. I could write another chapter on Burke really, but . . . he said: “Don’t do that! Just call it done.”
That’s the hardest part, really. It doesn’t really feel done. It feels started.
The whole process was surprisingly painless. I didn’t have to go through many revisions, really, in the grand scheme. Editing other people’s manuscripts is much harder. Most of the changes were instigated by me, not by members of my committee. I was reading The Rule of Metaphor by Paul Ricoeur again last night (for the tenth or twelfth time), and his treatment of Augustine struck a chord. Making an argument about meaning (in my case) or time (in Augustine’s case) is like fighting a hydra. Every time you chop off one head, another one rises up to take a bite out of you. Ricouer’s statement that closes the appendix rings truer to me now than ever:
What happens in the far more intricate cases of text-interpretation and what constitutes the key problem of hermeneutics is already foreshadowed in the interpretive process as it occurs in ordinary language. Thus, the whole problem of text-interpretation could be renewed by the recognition of its roots in the functioning of ordinary language itself.
Such are the problems I am now working and reflecting on.
I believe that “ordinary language’” is not exclusively linguistic. It contains visual and gestural elements that cannot be accounted for via strict textual analysis. I think this is inextricably tied to our sense of time. Image/texts highlight just how little we understand the spatiality and temporality. Neither space nor time is the exclusive providence of either mode. Time, in particular, is the most complex problem. We live in Augustine’s threefold present, I think; this forces us to process everything based on a presumption of what was, a limited appreciation of what is, and an anticipation of what we want to be.
Of course, it goes without saying that I didn’t even mention Ricoeur or Augustine in my thesis; they were among many things floating around in my head as I was writing. The damn thing had about 90 sources which I mentioned, and probably around 900 that I didn’t.