i haven't taken (almost) three solid weeks off of work -- academic work or other work -- in a very, very long time. i'll confess that i was feeling a little burned out, a little worried about whether i'd want to go back to the grind, when i left for minnesota and then for egypt.
but, arriving back at the office, i find that i am inexplicably happy to be here. i missed my people. i missed my work. i missed my books. granted, work since i've arrived home has been a jumble of logistical busywork, but it is all aimed at the comparative politics field exam, for which i am suddenly very excited. ordering books, copying papers, sitting down to plow through it all -- i'm pumped.
thinking about this summer of study reminds me rather strongly of the sense that i had during my final semester at swarthmore -- roughly, everything's coming together! the idea that one can begin to see a dense network of connections and oppositions, between and among works in an entire field or subfield, is one of the most satisfying feelings out there. i think it's worth noting, though, that a somewhat unified intellectual history, even when it comes with a good dose of settled empirical facts, is nothing like a somewhat unified sense of the actual phenomena under study. they are different sorts of gestalt, and it's probable that only a very few social scientists have any sense that the latter is attainable.