Idiosyncracy Is Its Own Reward (Penalty)

As I said on Facebook the other day, I’m working on a grant application, partly because it’s de rigeur for us to apply for grants whether we want any or not, and partly because it would actually be encouraging to receive the imprimatur of a granting agency for my hermeneutics work. I’m hammering out the 1000-word explanation of my project now; it has gotten somewhat easier through the repetition of decades past, but it’s still tough to distill an idea that runs against the grain of almost everyone else working in the field into a plausible concise ‘explanation’. (I realised in a sleepless moment, the other night, that this endeavour constitutes, in many respects, a continuation of the first interesting paper I wrote as a seminarian 28 years ago (‘Parable, Jokee, and Dream’ for David Lull’s Parables course at YDS). You might think I’d have gotten good at it by now.
Anyway, a couple further observations: One, I would give me a grant just for the bibliography, which mostly just recapitulates the ‘Syllabus of my Imagination’, but when you put them in alphabetical order (with all the intriguing juxtapositions that entails — ‘Luce, I’d like you to meet Alan’; ‘Scott, you know Friedrich’; ‘Edward, Ludwig, I thought you’d have a lot to say to one another’), it cries out ‘This project will fascinate — or horrify — me’. Two, it underscores that the project is orthogonal to the sorts of venture that make sense right from the start to colleagues and, presumably, granting agencies.
So either it’ll look like exactly what you want to support, if you’re inclined to think I’m at least intriguing, if not right; or a total waste of time and money, if you’re a normal civilian. ‘Cult classic, not best-seller’, as Mike Skinner says.

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