In previous blog incarnations I’ve rarely discussed “my work.” Because the nature of my profession is life-consuming I’ve always seen blog posts as the opportunity to write about everything else. After all, contrary to what is commonly thought, I did have interests before I started grad school. And sometimes I like to think I still do.
But I digress. About my work…Today I spent hours reading through the travel log of a poet who was part of the 1965 travesía from Punta Arenas, Chile to Bolivia. This journey, as well as later ones, is shaping up to become the subject of my dissertation. I don’t know what shape will eventually come forth. I don’t even have a proper elevator speech at this moment. All I know is that I find these journeys fascinating.
Researching is a lonely occupation. We scholars travel alone to conduct research, write, and think in solitude. When you’re studying a subject like mine, it’s especially lonely since the nature of these journeys was to venture into the wilderness of South America. Reading the travel log made me remember my recent trip to Chile, where I tried to retrace the steps of previous travesías.
The diary also reminded me of my trip to Marfa last weekend.
In projects of this magnitude (master’s level, dissertation, etc.) it’s pretty common to become so involved in one’s topic that you start to live it. Some people start wearing Renaissance-era costume on non-Halloween days. So far, I’ve become fixated with the images of the 1965 journey itself. The message that seems to keep coming to the fore in my research is the importance of the total experience. Though the idea of sculptures and performances in Patagonia may have been the initial draw, it’s critical to accept all the other elements of the journey—from the communal meals to the car malfunctions to the personal relationships between the travelers—as part of the experience.