I have been working on several academic projects (a term I mean in the sense of "connected to higher education in a specialized field" but which probably works just as well in the sense of "ultimately of no importance"), and so I have been doing a fair bit of primary source reading. That reading has reminded me of the continuity of a genre, of the ongoing nature of the genre's development. I have seen places where I am certain borrowing has occurred, and I have seen others where I think it might have occurred--but I would have to do more work to be sure.
More work is just what I need right now.
I think I might have written before that one of the glories of working on The Work is that there is always more to do with it. I know that I have likened it to a crossword puzzle or other mental game; while such things, once worked, are to be discarded, The Work is a puzzle that always has another layer to it, always has something else to find. This is true in all fields. Math has yet to find the true value of π, although it has been working on it for some time, or of the root of 2, and both would seem to be simple things, small numbers and necessary. Physics cannot yet say what mass actually is, so far as I am aware (and if it can, please let me know, as I would be interested). The martial arts have yet to uncover the one universally-effective technique or method; there is as yet always a counter, always an escape. Theologies continue to offer new interpretations of scriptures--and atheology (if such a thing can be spoken of and such a neologism accepted) looks for new ways to argue against them and their underpinnings. In my own field, there is always yet another layer of meaning to be uncovered, another layer that has been added and can therefore be explicated; for example, how we read Malory changes with every new Arthurian refiguration.
Although it can never be truly done, not until the end of things when knowledge and understanding run out and all that is known is correlated in all the ways that it can be correlated, The Work offers the same benefits as do other, lesser puzzles. It allows a focus that sharpens the mind and provides practice in unusual thinking. It allows people to remove themselves from the crass physicality of their bodies and environs, tapping into that which makes humanity human. It allows for the transcendence in some degree of those limitations imposed by the corporeal, for an unfettering of the mind from the heavy lumpen stuff in which it is too much enmeshed. And it allows for connection to those who have gone before, not only in the blood of the body (which may be corrupt and all too often carries sicknesses along with it), but in the deeds that are what truly makes a person.
I prattle, of course. But that is to be expected; is not the title of this blog a giveaway?