First Steps; or, Intellectual Warm-ups

CANTUS:  Listening is the first step and the last step.
MOKEY:  Ohhh…then I’m on the LAST step!
CANTUS: YOU…haven’t even begun.
MOKEY:  Well, I’m already there!  I mean…what about the ping?
CANTUS:  The ping is the start, but then comes the beginning.
–“Mokey and the Minstrels” Fraggle Rock, (Jocelyn Stevenson, screenwriter)

It’s been almost two months since I started this blog, and while I’ve created quite a bit of content that I can be proud of, in a way I still feel like I haven’t even really begun. 

I got my master’s degree nine years ago in December; sometimes I miss being a grad student.

Not the stress and the deadlines and the fees, etc.–and CERTAINLY not teaching Comp 101 as part of my assistantship–but sometimes I miss writing research papers.  The researching, gathering evidence, and constructing a coherent scholarly argument is sort of like an intellectual marathon.

I’ve been doing research on the Walt Disney Company so that I can put forth a well-supported, quasi-scholarly argument about why they suck.  But it’s difficult.  I haven’t really flexed those scholarly muscles for quite a while; they might be sort of atrophied.

It’s not because of a lack of evidence.  If anything, the opposite is true; there’s just so much evidence to sort through and classify and mark for later.  It’s hard to know where to even start, and it’s exhausting to figure out what to use, where to use it, what not to use, and how to filter through my own point of view, to use it to support my own argument instead of just reiterating it wholesale (or, as it is otherwise known, “plagiarism”).

Not helping matters is the fact that the recent history of the Walt Disney Company (“recent” meaning within the last 30 years or so) makes for compelling but depressing reading.  Few, if any, of the “cast members” in its sordid history seem to have any redeeming qualities whatsoever.  Virtually everybody who’s worked at Disney at the corporate level in the last 30-35 years seems to have been a complete scoundrel.  It’s all very disheartening.

I don’t really have any desire to go back to grad school and pursue another advanced degree, but if I did, this whole thing about Disney and the Muppets and Steve and the Schism and all of it could be my entire dissertation.  

I have a lot to say about Disney, is the point I’m trying to make, and I won’t be able to say it all at once.  I’m about to start on a first installment, which I hope to publish within the next few weeks, but it will just be the tip of the iceberg.  I still have a lot of research to do, but I figured I’d better get something out there to back up the assertions that I’ve been making about Disney since July, because it’s rather hypocritical of me to fault Disney and the Hensons for making unsupported accusations against Steve while, at the same time, I’ve been making them about Disney and the Hensons.

Although, in my defense, I have been–if not citing sources per se–then at least mentioning works from which I’ve been getting my information.  Perhaps now would be an opportune moment to share a working bibliography here.  Where’s my MLA handbook when I need it?

Well, never mind about the MLA handbook (mine is almost certainly woefully out of date anyway).  I’ll just give a list of the books that I’ve been using for reference alphabetically by title:

DisneyWar, by James B. Stewart.
Jim Henson: The Biography, by Brian Jay Jones.
The Keys to the Kingdom, by Kim Masters
Street Gang, by Michael Davis
Work in Progress, by Michael Eisner with Tony Schwartz (yes, THAT Tony Schwartz).

I’m afraid this post has been very dull, and I apologize.  Hopefully the next post will be more interesting.  Thank you for reading in the meantime, and please stay tuned.


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