by cheri block
The Prospectus (with a capital P) is due on Friday, September 21, 2012. If I cannot make that deadline, then I must wait until January to submit it. The Judge nudges me, interrupting my yoga stretches from the bed. “You are going to make the September deadline, right? Otherwise this thing will go on indefinitely, Cheri. You’ll be graduating in a walker.”
“Yes, your honor, I solemnly swear on a stack of holy Yoga Journals that I will dutifully uphold my commitment to finish my Master’s thesis before we finishing taming our property…” (That silenced him better than my threatening to stag-leap naked through the olive orchard.)
So. Today is Wednesday.
I’ve been reading and reading and reading. Thumbing and thumbing and thumbing through articles, abstracts, dissertations, and some of the most boring academic writing you can imagine. Strike that! Worse than you can imagine and to think that the program director expects my thesis to be 125 pages of that type of writing.
As I used to instruct my writing students, “Your thesis must not be too general, must not be too specific: it must be just right, that way you will actually say something of substance and be able to support your ideas.” Hey, Mrs. Sabraw, that little ditty sounds just like Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Is that where you got that idea? (Oh brother).
So, after all of my reading, I submitted only the first paragraph of my Prospectus to the dear man to whom the Program Director off-loaded me: Dr. William M. Chace (Praise the Lord).
Dr. Chace is doing his best to make sure my thesis experience is as Kafkaseque as it can be and I love him for it. As you may remember, when I met him in the elevator after our
seance meeting with the Program Director, and after I had been lost in the building, his last words were: “Cheri, let’s see what you can come up with.”
Here is my first paragraph.
Parablesque: from Rabbi Nachman of Breslov to Franz Kafka to W.G.Sebald.
The modern Hasidic parable, a short moralistic story that often emerged from the type of rabbinic dialectic seen in the Talmud, influenced Franz Kafka’s work, especially in The Trial. Forty years after Kafka’s death in 1923, the German writer W.G. Sebald—deeply troubled by his University of Freiburg professors’ veil of silence regarding the Holocaust—left for England, where he was to live, teach, and write until his untimely death in 2001. That Sebald wrote literary criticism about Kafka’s influence is apparent in Sebald’s experimental, dreamy, paradoxical, and moralistic style, a style that many predicted would make him a Nobel Prize winner. My thesis will first argue that the modern Hasidic parable with its rabbinic dialectic, the type written by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in 1810, influenced Kafka’s unique 20th-century parables, specifically in Before the Law and in The Trial itself. In the succeeding three chapters, I will argue that recent scholarship supports the notion that three of Sebald’s novels: Vertigo, The Emigrants, and Austerlitz, are parabolic and dialectic, written in the spirit of Franz Kafka.
When Dr. Chace’s reaction to this paragraph came back with a nod, I ran out into the olive orchard and well, watered the trees.
Your reactions and thoughts about this idea are appreciated.