#4 The Wallace Archive (A Research Visit amidst Personal Musings) – a temporary break with blog convention (well this one) as I conduct research at The Harry Ransom Center, Austin, TX


sign of a limited imagination (on my part – maybe i’ll instagram it for a bit of variety?)…

Day Four:
waking naturally at 6:30am is somewhat of a surprise as lately it’s been hard to get out of bed without my partner switching the lights on at home and me taking around 20-30 minutes to ‘come round,’ as it were. although it would be half-past midday for me back home so maybe i shouldn’t be too congratulatory (of myself – you know, self-congratulatory) just yet. faced with the prospect of running in the evening, following a full day of sitting on my ass looking at manuscripts, it seems a better idea to just get up, stretch, warm up, and do the run prior to heading downtown. my first steps outside reveal that the cold has not gone away, so after a few more stretches i hit the ‘run’ button on the running app and head off for what i’m expecting to be a 3 mile run.
the politeness of drivers who actually stop to let me cross the road, when i’m quite content to run round the back of their cars to save them the inconvenience, is pleasantly surprising, and in stark contrast to the attitude of (most, maybe not all) drivers back home. for their troubles they get a left-handed wave meant to convey both ‘thanks’ and ‘hey/hi’ simultaneously, and also a left-handed thumbs up to cement the feeling of appreciation and to give them an extra boost to the start of their day – whether they might need one or not. my run is good for the first half mile or so and i have to remind myself not to kick in too soon, even though this is a shorter run than the one the other day.
today’s route is pre-planned following guidance from my sister that will avoid another episode of getting lost – and i have not the time to deal with such things as i have things to do and paper to see. heading down a concrete path away from roads, i am running next to what look like farmer’s fields on one side and the back yards of houses on the other. three particularly grumpy dogs seem majorly pissed at my passing their metal fence boundary, and given the chance i fully expect that they’d happily sink their salivating jaws into my delicate flesh. as it happens, they can do nothing more than bark and growl wildly, and i resolve to run back past them on the way back to my sister’s house – i even tease them a little with some cute petting sounds.
the only thing of interest that stands out between my first pass of their fence and the second, is a scene that looks like someone has discarded carrots by the side of the road, and also by the side of a discarded xmas tree. the carrots turn out to be oranges and they’ve fallen from a tree (orange tree, of course). the dogs are waiting for me on my return (another dog further up doesn’t like the look of me either and has called ahead) and one has shoved its head through the metal railings, though that is really of little use to it, and even makes it look just plain dumb rather than the mean and menacing effect i assume it’s going for. i ignore them completely as this feels like a really fast run (for me). 3.18 miles in just under 28 minutes, averaging 8:something per mile – my fastest ever run over that or any distance. yay.
showered, vegan protein shake downed, coffee slurped, croissant demolished, and dressed in a manner that makes me look french, apparently, according to my sister – and many other people i might add as it seems a familiar comment when wearing what i’m wearing, and i am ready to be transplanted downtown on mlk boulevard. meandering through the campus grounds towards the ransom center is much like it was on Sunday, due to the weather, apart from the activity that accompanies the many students who are heading to class. i get to watch an orientation video, quite enjoyable, and then nice person after nice person help me find my way around the systems that are in place at the center.
just to bring the tone down for a few moments, it strikes me as somewhat selfish to be doing what i’m doing, kind of picking over the things that i would not be picking over unless a person’s life had ended. and it’s a weird feeling, because i won’t pretend that i’m not excited as hell to be at the archive, but someone had to die to make that possible – and that’s a sobering and uncomfortable thought to process. to use an example with which to compare my conflicting thoughts on the issue, that probably won’t make much sense to anyone as it has no obvious connection, i liken the whole thing to the misappropriation of the poor that is at the heart of the stage and film versions of les miserables (and obviously i’m not suggesting wallace was poor, i mean only to convey a sense of the misappropriation that i’m getting right now). so anyway, the story of revolution in france is a bloody one, agreed, and the poorest suffered the most, no-brainer, yet it has been misappropriated by the middle-classes and upwards as a glorious, riotous show/film which one can sing along to and enjoy and make merry – and you kind of have to ask yourself – just what is there to make merry about in this particular (or any) revolution (i happened to watch the recent film at the cinema and the majority of the audience clapped long and hard throughout the end credits – directed at whom were the claps, and to express what sentiment?)? so, just what is there to be excited about when faced with the prospect of reading materials that would have been considered to be extremely intimate to the person who wrote them? that’s about as mawkish as i’ll allow myself to get, but it’s a point worth holding onto.
i’ll start again on day five… bummed myself out there… sorry…
but just to balance out the unexpected mawkishness, a barista in a coffee bar on guadalupe gave me a chai latte free of charge because someone had ordered it and not collected it and ‘did i want it as it will only go to waste.’ so i accepted it as i’d finished my coffee and it was a pleasant surprise – so much so, i’ll probably forego the coffee tomorrow and order one of those instead. a positive human connection…

About the textual silence project...

...reading, thinking, and thinking about reading... ...and then writing... View all posts by the textual silence project...

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