I'm revising an essay, which think may be publishable. Or: I once thought it publishable; now, I'm not quite so sure, but I'm not yet willing to let it go. The essay begins with a problem: taking popular science (specifically, the branch of popular science that deals with theory/philosophy of science) as its model, the essay asks, if popular science is meant for the education of a generalist audience, how can that audience critically apply its “new” knowledge to competing or contradictory scientific theories and claims? The essay was written as an academic essay, so its genre is an added problem: the piece is, in a sense, an apology for populism, but the essay itself is by definition not populist.
This was bothering me, until early this morning when I left my desk to refill my coffee cup. To get around my desk I had to step over a large-ish pile of books, which I've spent some time either a) promising to tidy up; b) defending, as each and every book in the tower is, I insist, an integral part of some ongoing writing project.
En route for coffee and: vindication, as far a reason b) goes, anyhow.
I had to step over a copy of de Certeau's The Practice of Everyday Life (I've just peered around the corner of my desk to check the volume). The book is an analysis of just what is suggested by its title (it's a Ronseal work in that respect – does what it says on the tin). But it is hardly a pop book, by any stretch of the generic or commercial imagination. So my anxieties have been allayed by that time-honoured academic tradition of precendece; or, if it's o.k. for them, then it's o.k. for me.
Think The Big Lebowski: the essay that I'm still struggling with is my “room”; de Certeau is my rug, which I've just in these last few minutes retrieved. I suppose in this analogy that makes me The Dude; apologies for overreaching here. But thank you, de Certeau; The Dude just wanted his rug back, and you came up trumps. You may just have tied the room together.