I was commissioned to write a chapter for an upcoming Brill volume on the Cultural Dissemination of New Religious Movements on Robert Anton Wilson‘s books as a platform for the transmission of Discordianism. This happened two days before my second son, Rex, was born. My deadline is January 31st, but I know this is the editor making an exception for me and would like to have it in a week from now. Nevertheless, 8000 words isn’t small-fry, and in this case, there isn’t a vast academic tradition to draw upon. In other words, I’ve found myself attempting not to draw too heavily on the half-dozen academic works on the subject, while having to trawl through an 800-page psychedelic novel. Those with small children will understand how uncomfortably this fits with the changing nappies, lego bricks and Cbeebies routine.
(I have been told, many times and by people in different freelance professions, “never turn down work, and always get it in on time.” At this point in my career, I shall be doing neither. While editors would hope they are publishing cutting-edge, brilliantly-written work, a more pressing concern is meeting their deadlines with the minimum of hassle; the less hassle you give, the more likely they are to ask you the next time. As some Zen guy once said, “Better an imperfect plan on time than a perfect one too late”. “But it takes me a long time to produce work that I’m happy with!”, I hear you cry. Robert Anton Wilson’s advice: “Lower your standards.”)
As you can imagine then, this last week, I’ve been up to my neck in the paper. In an effort to complete the first draft, I sent the family off to my partner’s parents for the weekend (which they were happy to do, for the record). But a combination of ill-health, stress and, frankly, alcohol, meant that I couldn’t get into it, and the stress took hold of my stomach. I persevered, however, and by this afternoon I had a good first draft, mostly referenced and up to word count. Phew. And the next job I have to start has been delayed.
Apologies for this ramble. This is my life these days, pathetic as that might be.
In the meantime, I have posted my MSc thesis, Contemporary “Gnosticism” as a Discursive Field, on my Acedemia page. I still intend to produce a journal paper from this, but the way this year is progressing, it may be a while away. So here it is.