Tools of the Trade

  • “Tools of the Trade” is a collection of basic tools for the ANE scholar.
  • I collect them all in this one place so as to have them ready-to-hand (as Heidegger would have it). I hope other students will find use for them.
  • Keeping my tools sharpened is (one of) my way(s) to avoid or overcome writer’s block – that dull feeling in the head, that leaden feeling in the brain. Go back to the sources – learn some more cuneiform signs, study new vocabulary, make some grammar exercises, read a text real close – your basic mental warming up. Studying a sweet hard piece of grammar usually makes the head crystal-clear, shining & sparkling new.
  • “Tools of the Trade” includes online dictionaries of Sumerian, Akkadian and Hebrew; A list of Journals, Periodicals, Major Reference Works, and Series; ecstatic rantings about the SBL Handbook of Style and all matters relating to SNOOTiness & Pedantry; Online Sign Lists and Text Collections; and so on – it is very much a work in progress.

Some more tips to keep mentally fit:

  • Your basic sweaty work out: use the SQ3R-Method to analyse a Mickey Mouse album. Going back to the roots and spark new ideas: review and organise source material. Formulate and answer the really silly questions that keep bugging you: Where do I find a complete list of Sumerian signs? When was the Bronze Age in Mesopotamia? Can the Bible be considered a historical source? Is it politically correct to write “God” with a capital?
  • Keep a writing-&-working-diary. Going over the work already done, re-reading about earlier enthusiasms and discoveries, maybe finding new connections to what you are doing today, or noting that you already had the problem of today before, in another context – it all helps to keep mentally fit and passionate.
  • “State of the Arts”: Where do I stand methodologically, theoretically, and knowledge-wise? I am a pro-feminist, mostly heterosexual woman. Do I need to bother with Feminist Theory and Gender Studies? Can I find some more basic sources? Am I up-to-date with current state of research, and if not, where am I going to find the latest books and articles on my theme? Can I formulate exactly the problem I’m researching? Why am I doing this?

If there creeps in the last question a maudling note of desperation and self-pity, try the following:

  • Work, study and improve your eccentricity characteristics. According to Dr. David Weeks eccentrics are very, very creative. They have extreme degrees of curiosity, and they’re very independent-minded. Their other motivation is fairly idealistic. They want to make the world a better place, and they want to make other people happy. They have these happy obsessive preoccupations, and a wonderful, unusual sense of humor, and this gives them a significant meaning in life. And they are far healthier than most people because of that. They have very low stress. They’re not worried about conforming to the rest of society. Eccentrics use their solitude very constructively. Low stress, high happiness equates with psychological and physical health.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Tools of the Trade « ANE — The Ancient Near East Blog

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