Reade Research Interests

In discussing notes, I had earlier dismissed any ownership I felt over my records of our class sessions.  That is still the case.  However, reading about Reade’s note-taking and compilation processes have started me into a recognition of his habits in myself.

I shall make no assumptions in this brief explanation, other than assuming that you have all at least heard of Dungeons and Dragons.  It is on that topic, strangely enough, that I identify with Reade.  You see, I have a monomania of my own.

I play that well-known game, yes–but I do not merely play it.  At this moment, I imagine you all vaguely disturbed, worrying that I am going to reveal some sick fascination with the fantasy world.  Perhaps I view myself as truly living in that world, while being forced to deal with this one?  No.  Nothing so silly.

Instead, my dear friends, I am obsessed with writing material.  I have written over three hundred pages of supplemental player material for the game, and am currently engaged in what may be my final revision pass.  After spending two years working on this project, I can only hope it is.

In writing this material, I now realize I have followed many of the same habits as Reade.  Though I was writing something new, I carefully read and analyzed existing material so as to build up something like Reade’s “aura of reality.”  I manage several different text documents, PDFs, and filing systems.  I refer to existing material on the smallest imaginable points of wording.  I consult with more experienced players, then re-read the original materials.

In short, like Reade, I firmly establish everything in its place, and then engage in a writing process that fits together disparate elements into a new whole.

I am, at this point, brought to wonder exactly how cognizant Reade was of his organizational habits.  Obviously, he knew of them well enough to write of them, but to exactly what extent was he always consciously aware of acquiring information?  I have often found myself putting pieces together suddenly, without having previously realized the connection.  Did Reade accumulate, then record, and then write?  Or were the accumulation and the recording the same action?

These questions, of course, are impractical.  I cannot question a dead man as to the exact nature of his thought processes.  However, it does drop me off neatly where I should like to be: among his notecards.  Specifically, those relating to “Insanity,” “Madness,” and “Asylums & Lunacy Law.”  As a part of this, I should also like to look at  Lunaticum A.

I arrived at this conclusion simply: I realized, in a moment, that wondering what Reade thought and did was only marginally more profitable as an endeavor that would be wondering whether or not Hamlet was mad.  The information is unattainable: Reade is beyond my reach.  But the institutions of madness are not buildings that one wanders into willy-nilly.  In order to have gained this information, Reade would have had to consciously research.  In engaging with this topic, I seek to explore both his own cognizance of his research and my own fascination with madness.