Thursday, July 14, 2011

contemplation over evening tea.

I sit at my computer as Edinburgh's evening light spills into my living room and down the left side of my body. The evening is cooling down from today's heat wave of seventy degrees Fahrenheit, and the clouds have come to bask in the glorious colors that always illuminate the sky at this time of day. It will still be some time before the sun decides to call it a day, but though the day lasts well into what should be night, it seems that the sunset itself stretches its own life during this time, lengthening that time between times, rather than lengthening the day or shortening the night. I have a trusty cup of tea in hand, well, near hand anyway, I can't exactly type very well (or quickly) while holding my over-sized green Ikea mug, I'm not quite that good.
My dissertation is actually coming along swimmingly, and I'm quite pleased with how well I'm staying on schedule. I'm due to finish the first half by tomorrow, which leaves me the latter half of the month to finish my first draft, and the whole nineteen days I'll have in August before its due to edit and revise, edit and revise, and edit and revise some more. I'm about twenty-two pages in, and over 7600 words down. So I really should be about half way--I'm fairly certain they're going to be pretty stringent about not going over fifteen thousand words, so hopefully I can keep it below that mark without having to exclude things I really wanted to write about. I've gone through ancient Celtic mythology, and then traversed the early Irish literature with Cúchulainn and Fionn MacCumhaill and other notable characters, and now I'm finally getting to settle down with the real meat of the dissertation, the folktales. I just read an article about folk-memory within folktales, and how important is it to remember that while these tales are entertaining and amusing to us now, they once held vital information and vestiges of beliefs and customs held by the people who so lovingly perpetuated them. To the early Celt, it was no stretch of the imagination for people to transform into animals and vice versa, it came with a great knowledge and as a way to continue learning through new eyes and new experiences. There was no rigid barrier between the human and animal forms, and in fact many animals held certain characteristics that mirrors things people saw in themselves, so it seemed not strange at all that there were those who could shift from shape to shape. I love the freedom of folktales, the innocence of imagination, the lack of that-isn't-possible attitude, where we can lose ourselves in a good story of a maiden being turned into a swan for one year, then back to her own form the next year, and a man who, having fallen in love with said maiden, turns himself into a swan to be with her. Why not? Why can't we fancy those things occurring at some where, some time, and transform our own minds from the cold scientific reality of what can only be tangibly proven.
I for one am a firm supporter of imagination, and 'what if?' stories of wonder and romantic notions of shape-shifting and things we cannot explain.
Here's to the unknown.



Hannah J. Holmes said...

i always admire people who go for their doctorates. kudos to you and best of luck :)

Caitlin said...

Thanks! I'm actually only doing my Master's just now, I'm not sure if I'll continue on to a Doctorate or not. But I'm really enjoying my time doing it, if frustrated half the time as well. :)