Say you remember something, but imperfectly. Maybe it’s from years ago. You have distinct recollection of a word or two, but other details (author’s name, publisher) escape you. In the case of a book maybe you remember the cover. If a journal article you’re out of luck there. Not even Google can help you. (I use Ecosia regularly, because they plant trees, but sometimes you just need to google.) This happened to both my daughter and myself recently. She was trying to remember a childhood book and I was trying to recollect an article I’d read while working on my dissertation. And although I remember Edinburgh very well, that was, uh, three decades ago. I tried searching different combinations of key words, but there’s just too much stuff on the internet.
One of the strange features of ancient Near Eastern mythology is that it’s extremely popular online but not in academia. Departments have been closed down. Smart people left unemployed. But just take a guess whose websites come up first when you google a god? After Wikipedia, it’s often fan and fantasy material for page after page. Universities haven’t figured out how to monetize this interest, so it remains the purview of those who’ve read a book or two (or done a lot of web surfing) and have popularized the deity. If universities offered courses that caught people where they lived, there’d be a steady audience. That fickle lover academia, however, is quite coy. In my daughter’s case it was fairly easy for my wife to locate the title and bibliographic details. My case was a little harder.
Most sources I consulted on my dissertation are in my book, A Reassessment of Asherah. (It is available in PDF form for free on Academia.edu). Back in the day, I made extensive bibliographies. I pulled it from the shelf and ran an index card down through the entire bibliography. Apparently I hadn’t listed it there. Or I was remembering the title incorrectly. There’s a distinct possibility that I imagined it. When you’re an active researcher you keep ideas current by going over them time and again. I can still remember some individual articles that were used to make a point some thirty years ago, but those beside the point have somehow vacated my gray matter. In the end I never did find the reference. Perhaps some day, like bread cast upon the water, it will come back to me. Like said bread, it too will likely be soggy by then.