I can blow through a crappy Martin Amis novel or most fiction for that matter (including early Victorian sentence-marathoners) in shocking time, but when faced with non-fiction I huff and puff. I enjoy it, don't get me wrong, enough to take advanced degrees in international relations and military strategy. But sometimes I wonder if it would have made more academic sense for me to have continued in literature studies, like, say, EVERYONE thought I would and some people wanted me to.
But then - then what? In the final year of my undergrad, when I was getting all excited about comp. lit., something snapped at the end. The body of work on comp. lit., even my own work, seemed to be all about exploring the context in which literature was produced. And lord knows I love context. Nothing better . . . but that was also the problem.
Since all I produced was a 40 page paper about how John Donne had more in common with Thomas Wyatt and Petrarch than people think (so there!) - I never felt like I obfuscated or over-complicated. That in fact, what I looked at was a way to limit obfuscations and over-complications. But how long could that have lasted? If I had invested my time in a comp. lit. masters or doctorate . . . how long before I would have been trying desperately to prove some post-post-modernist bullshit to propound my emotional beliefs about the context of a writer's work?
It's hard to say what I mean, but I'll try summing up numerically:
1. I'm 28 and I'm already feeling defensive about the academic choices I made
2. I still believe continuing in academic literature studies would have meant the end of me as a writer, although I can't yet produce evidence for any sort of literary career resulting from me going into international relations instead
3. I think there was an element of cowardice in me not continuing with lit. studies because I was never quite sure I was good enough to not end up teaching highschool English
4. Even so, comp. lit. involves poisonous argumentation in a rarefied atmosphere which can't escape irrelevance considering how seldom it adds to that literature in comparison to how often it unconsciously but fatally reflects the emotional state of the individual academic - and I love literature too much to do that to it
5. Whatever my profs thought, at the end of my undergrad I would have been totes unprepared for a career in exploring literary context since by any objective standard I was a retard. I'd be better at it now, but now I care about money more
And finally . . .
6. I haven't found a new fucking job yet and still don't know if I can get pogey while I nanny, so this sort of thing is driving me NUTS today.