the MBs have taken pity on me and persuaded themselves it would be a good idea to outsource some of E's research to me -- the legal aspects, i was told. i agree readily because having a new commission is always good for the ailing coffers of a freelancer and having a new piece of research would focus and exercise the mind (which these days feel in danger of arthritis -- not from lack of virtuous reading which was one of the pure joys of living on my own time -- but from lack of drawing-in of the mind, of applying organisational effort to ideas (rather thanf just my usual Spenserian habit of diffident accumulation of extreme whimsy and extreme erudition scattered about in charming disarray.)
i run into trouble early because of course by legal research i meant that i can figure out what relevant areas of law come into play, look up precedents and extract principles and synthesise them into a picture of what the state of the law currently is and how they might apply to a given scenario. what is wanted, i find, is historical research, archival digging and interviews. i did not say no because of a) the ailing coffers mentioned above and because b) the work needed is informational not analytical, I don't feel my lack of disciplinary background or domain knowledge a real handicap -- insofar as a fairly intelligent and educated person who is familiar with the workings of any academic library, competent with searching on the internet, and quite aware of the proper standard of diligence required for academic work (e.g. how to document sources in a way that the next researcher is able to locate the same references) -- is able to locate, summarise and organise information for someone else whatever the field is provided not beyond one's technical grasp.
But now I struggle -- disciplinary habits always intrude. One cannot stop trying to turn informational requests into a study of the history of ideas -- and that itself is a struggle because for that one does need discipinary foundations, which leaves one feeling helplessly inadequate to the task, angry at being made to feel this way, and fending off familiar neuroticism (as if for one's own project -- which this determinedly is not -- and not my role.)