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Table of contents :
Artful Collaboration Forward
List of figures.
Introduction(s) to this body of works/bodily workings/works of these bodies.
Part one: Keeping the Inquiry Space Open.
Introduction to part one.
Chapter one. Everyday Fragments on the Ceiling of Room 407: An Open Narrative Inquiry Space.
Chapter two. Making Meaning of Life-Changing Events.
Part two: Inviting Other Scholars Into Our Space.
Introduction to part two.
Chapter three. Riffing off Tami: Tami Spry’s Performative Call and Our Collaborative Response.
Chapter four. Meandering and Writing Alongside Doreen Massey.
Part three: Playing in Other/Outside Spaces.
Introduction to part three.
Chapter five. Pockets.
Chapter six. Cozy Crimes and Deadly Deeds.
Part four: Coming Together and Falling Apart.
Introduction to part four.
Chapter seven. Remembering Sue: Last Writes.
Chapter eight. Epilogue.
List of contributors.
These two words – artful and collaboration – resonate deeply, almost as lightning rods of resistance to a world that is currently so fragmented, isolated, transactional and consumerist. Tami Spry’s attention to the ‘somatic and semantic’ in this volume leads us also into considerations of the temporal within this writing group’s works, which cheekily reference other times, places and ‘enhanced’ human and more-than-human ways of being, a speculative future brimming with both anxiety and possibility, as unknowns always are. These essays are like gleaming crumbs in a dark forest of self-interest and xenophobia, leading us out to the light of belonging and connection. Do yourself a favour and get this book today, or better yet: give it to a loved one. (Anne Harris, Principal Research Fellow, RMIT University)
This beautiful, enlivening book draws us, as readers, into its multi-voiced flow. It invites us to come inside its exploratory, experimental, collaborative processes of becoming, alongside a bunch of ‘unruly, rebellious, lively, heartfelt, heartening, angry writers, artists, performers’. It is a book about listening to the other, and becoming other. It is about the material, emotional, spiritual, and political specificity of lives; it is about the relationality that provides the conditions of possibility that make this poetic writing, image making, and love possible. This book invites us to leap with the authors into an endless, artful, becoming through collaborative storytelling, through ‘seas of stories flowing into an ocean yet only dipped into’. (Bronwyn Davies, Emeritus Professor Western Sydney University, Adjunct Professor University of Melbourne) At a time when the word 'performative' is used to derisively signal falseness and the inauthentic, this book reclaims its potential for intimacy and radical openness. Together, the contributors employ collaborative transdisciplinary writing practices to do things with words, dissolving the distinctions between bodies and language, deeds and thought, self and other, near and far, joy and grief. (Roberta Mock, Professor of Performance Studies, University of Plymouth, UK)
An inspired, creative and utterly transformational book that lives and breathes artful collaborative inquiry. A diverse collective of creative scholars lay their writing lives bare, embracing an embodied collaboration by weaving their voices throughout this evocative and provocative text. Together they trace their storylines, find and play with fragments of memories and found text, tease out conceptual struggles, debate in safe yet vibrant ways, and confront personal and professional taken-for-granted beliefs. The book is an intense and abiding commitment to inquiry in every way. Yet what is perhaps the most profound contribution is the disruption to publishing norms. The network that spawned this remarkable collection are committed to non-competitive, non-hierarchical open inquiry spaces that encourage experimentation in visual arts, writing and working together. As readers, we imagine a sparkling creative hub that nurtures a rich scholarly atmosphere not only during monthly meetings, but at regular social occasions. Witnessing this remarkable collaborative becomes a beacon for all of us wishing to create similar spaces. We should all be so lucky! I highly recommend this important book for all artist-scholars interested in artful collaborative forms of inquiry! (Rita L. Irwin, Distinguished University Scholar and Professor, Art Education, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada) This is a magical book of daring intelligence seeped in virtuosic co-creations and enduring questions. We feel the pulse and fragility of human yearning on every page coupled by a precision and respect for method, both as emergence and technique. This book offers both a performed event and a visual feast, a poetics that wavers between creative non-fiction and fiction all in the service of what is good and true for qualitative researchers. The reader does not simply open a book but enters a collage of scenes, a commons of witnesses that are meaningfully sad, nervously funny, and profoundly useful in the way the reader is both inspired and enlightened by word and form. Readers will learn much from the crosscurrents of knowledges, affect, and forms offered here. This magical book is a consummate example of the urgency and gravitas of this recurrent phrase, “We are all in this together.” (D. Soyini Madison, Professor Emeritus of Performance and Communication Studies, Northwestern University, Chicago, USA)
This book is… an intimate place/ for making an equal world/ art-words-peoplethings memento mori/ ‘Porter’ in French – to carry/ blue overtakes me a crip-tych café/ you dare me to make these rhyme/ ‘haiku’ and ‘review’ “scraps of old postcards”/ “tattered old bits and pieces”/ tickets to elsewhere
a diffractive stroke/a drawing into being/ a vanishing point. a place of refuge/ unabandoned vehicle/ on tremulous ground an uncovering/ pages interleaved with snow/ new shoots pushing through. (Sheridan Linnell, Associate Professor of Art Therapy and Counselling, University of Western Sydney)
Artful Collaborative Inquiry
Making and Writing Creative, Qualitative Research
Edited by Davina Kirkpatrick, Sue Porter, Jane Speedy and Jonathan Wyatt. With editorial help and other contributions from Melissa Dunlop, Mike Gallant, Carol Laidler, Alys Mendus, Margaret Page, Artemi Sakellariadis and Tessa Wyatt, and further contributions from Joanne Barber, Prue Bramwell-Davies, Catriona Brodie, Laurinda Brown, Marion Donaldson, Janice Filer, Ken Gale, Luci Gorell Barnes, Donna Kemp, Chara Lo, Marion Liebmann, Lynn Maddern, Marina Malthouse, Viv Martin, Jelena Nolan, Sarah Nymanhall, Katrina Plumb, Bubu Pyrsou, Peggy Styles, Jane Reece, Malcolm Reed, Chris Scarlett, Tami Spry, Goya Wilson Vasquez, Andrew Walls and Louise Younie.
First published 2021 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor and Francis Group
© 2021 Davina Kirkpatrick, Sue Porter, Jane Speedy and Jonathan Wyatt The right of Davina Kirkpatrick, Sue Porter, Jane Speedy and Jonathan Wyatt to be identified as authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Designed by Davina Kirkpatrick. Typeset in Helvetica Neue All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any other form or by any electronic, mechanical or any other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or reterival system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be tradmarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catologue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-0-367-42750-4 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-42752-8 (pbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-85484-3 (ebk) Publisher’s Note This book has been prepared from camera-ready copy provided by the author/s/editor/s.
In memory of Sue Porter, 1954–2017
Artful Collaboration Forward. Tami Spry. Living in the context of a global pandemic makes writing about anything else seem dismissive of the personal, social, and systemic pain and chaos occurring in and around us in myriad forms. I know it marks this essay, carbon dates it perhaps in the geographies of the body politic. We have been brought to our knees by a microscopic organism, and look to be kept there VIII by those in power advocating lies, leeches, and blood-letting rather than present-day science. However, the wisdom in Artful Collaborative Inquiry suggests that being on our knees may perhaps be viewed not as a defeat in brutal patriarchal terms but rather as a time when we have been invited/required to kneel down, to feel the earth on our hands, to view the body politic from a different angle, to invite a knee-deep episteme of embodied collaboration. ‘We have developed a form of collaborative writing’, affirm the Bristol Collaborative Writing Group (many of whom are contributors to this book), ‘that allows us to listen intently from within this constantly shifting space, but to also listen out for the irreducibility of our constantly moving selves to their constituting conditions … Our writing rarely finishes itself, but is woven together from traces, lacunae, fragments, debris, and bits and pieces’ (Speedy and Wyatt 2014: 148). This is a methodology for the age of COVID-19, for the rage of continued violence toward people of colour, for our viral and violating responses to the ‘fragments, debris, and bits and pieces’ of human and non/human environments. In the shifting entanglement of language, writing, affect, agency, non/human bodies, and things, collaborative writing and performance methods insist that we speak from and with our body’s interactions with hegemonizing performativities to offer subversive and transformative narratives that assist in ‘listen[ing] intently from within this constantly shifting space’. Though the essays in this forum were written before the pandemic they speak from multiple perspectives about our necessity to recognize the foundational significance of knowing, feeling, seeing, and regarding the material body whatever the configuration. Body as text. Text as body. The works in Artful
Collaborative Inquiry write from the transient borders between the semantic and somatic offering a language, a way to articulate multiplicities of interconnectedness. There is an artful and aching beauty in these works illustrating Elaine Scarry’s activist notion of the power of beauty; ‘At the moment we see something beautiful,’ writes Scarry ‘we undergo a radical decentering…we cease to stand at the center of the world, for we never stood there’ (1998: 77). The stunning beauty of creative collaborative intervention suspends a moment in time long enough for us to see not only what is wrong but what can also be right, possible, and especially in these times, utopian.
The time spent in Bristol with Prof. Jane Speedy’s students and colleagues in CeNTraL: the centre for transformative learning was, as the title promised, transformative in my work and writing. The somatic and semantic weave of collaborative inquiries continually reveal knowledge about the relationality of bodies, things, selves, and others. And in particular, I would recognize the incredible work, humility, deep humanity, and lionheartedness of Sue Porter. She lives, breathes, and speaks, in these pages. Some knowing about copresence, some cellular discernment about assemblages of being opened up for me in the so little time I spent with Sue and her mates in Bristol. Body as text, text as body, was never more apparent to me after that. Languages of joy are left in the wake of her loss, along with the realisation that we seldom have the control over language we may think we do. Words seep out through pores, run down cheeks, and sometimes become airborne before you can grab them. Sometimes they try to speak before you have carefully considered them, disciplined them, caressed them. They can love you and in the next sentence turn on you, thinking they know best. Perhaps they do. As you move into the works that follow, I invite you to ‘listen from within [their] constantly shifting space’ (Speedy & Wyatt 2014: 148), feel them, collaborate with them, heal our body politic.
Contents. Acknowledgements. XVII List of figures. XVIII Introduction(s) to this body of works/bodily workings/works of these bodies. 3 Part one: Keeping the Inquiry Space Open. Introduction to part one. 32 Chapter one. Everday Fragments on the Ceiling of Room 407: An Open Narrative Inquiry Space. 36 XIII Chapter two. Making Meaning of Life-Changing Events. 63 Part two: Inviting Other Scholars Into Our Space. Introduction to part two. 84 Chapter three. Riffing off Tami: Tami Spry’s Performative Call and Our Collaborative Response. 92 Chapter four. Meandering and Writing Alongside Doreen Massey. 133 Part three: Playing in Other/Outside Spaces. Introduction to part three. Chapter five. Pockets. Chapter six. Cozy Crimes and Deadly Deeds.
152 154 181
Part four: Coming Together and Falling Apart. Introduction to part four. Chapter seven. Remembering Sue: Last Writes. Chapter eight. Epilogue. References. List of contributors. Index.
212 213 245 253 262 270
This project has taken a very long time to materialize. There have been two major interruptions: halfway through our endeavours Sue Porter, a linchpin in our team, died suddenly and unexpectedly (more of which, later) and we would like to thank all those who stepped into the fray and helped out at that time, particularly her husband, Glenn Hall. The second interruption, the advent of COVID-19, was a worldwide event that threw us off course just as the project was coming to an end and we would like to thank our editor at Routledge, XVII Hannah Shakespeare, and her team, who cut us all a lot of slack as we readjusted to new ways of working in the final stages of the book. We would also like to thank the audiences who asked questions and made comments on our work at the European Congress for Qualitative Inquiry in Edinburgh (2018) and the extraordinary Norman Denzin, and his teams at Cultural Studies – Critical Methodologies and Qualitative Inquiry for feedback and editorial comments on earlier versions. We are grateful to the University of Bristol’s School of Education for their commitment to public and community engagement and for hosting and supporting the Artful Narrative Inquiry network (ANI-net), which did not contribute in a direct way to the research infrastructures they had built, but nonetheless brought inquiry spaces into their midst that intrigued some staff and students and created interdisciplinary mo(ve)ments. We are indebted to all the ‘visiting magicians’ (as visiting scholars to the network came to be nicknamed) who visited Bristol – challenged our thinking and extended our work. In relation to this particular body of work our gratitude goes to Doreen Massey from the Open University (even though she never made it to Bristol in person, just knowing she intended to come was enough!) – Bronwyn Davies and Susanne Gannon from Australia and Tami Spry from the USA. This project would never have got underway at all without the support, commitment and wayward attitudes of quite a large number of dogs, most of them Irish Terriers, in particular, Morgan, Erik the Red and Ulf. Last but not least, we’d like to thank Giles Aston for stalwart last-minute help with InDesign™.
List of figures. 1. -
Sue Porter on the First Severn Bridge with Morgan, Erik the Red and Ulf, photo (Glenn Hall). VII 2. Postcard, ink on paper (Jane Speedy). XI 3. Postcard, ink on paper (Carol Laidler). XV 4. Postcard, ink on paper (Davina Kirkpatrick). 1 5. Artemi’s Garden, photo (Artemi Sakellariadis). 10 6. Snow Angel, photo (Alys Mendus). 12 7. Worm, photo (Carol Laidler). 16 XVIII 8. Postcard, Ammerdown photo-montage (Jane Speedy).29 9. Artemi’s Tree of Visual Knowledge (Artemi Sakellariadis). 56 10. - Tree, iPad drawing (Jane Speedy). 58 11. - Postcard, red dogs at Fernhill, photo (Carol Laidler). 61 12. - Postcard, ink & pastel on paper (Carol Laidler). 81 13. - Body/Sculpt 1, photo-montage (Jane Speedy from photos by Tami Spry). 93 14. - Body/Sculpt 2, photo-montage (Jane Speedy from photos by Tami Spry). 104 15. - Postcard, photo (Carol Laidler). 131 16. - Postcard, ink & pastel on paper (Jane Speedy). 149 17. - Pockets workshop, photo montage ( Jane Speedy from photos by Davina Kirkpatrick). 154 18. - Filmstrip – participants, photos (Davina Kirkpatrick). 154 19. - Filmstrip – participants and heat-press textile printing, photos (Davina Kirkpatrick). 155 20. - Filmstrip – heat-press textile printing, photos (Davina Kirkpatrick). 156 21. - Filmstrip – heat-press textile printing, photos (Davina Kirkpatrick). 157 22. - Filmstrip – artwork Alys Mendus and Ann Rippin, photos (Davina Kirkpatrick). 158 23. - Filmstrip – artwork Davina Kirkpatrick and Carol Laidler, photos (Davina Kirkpatrick). 159 24. - Filmstrip – artwork Jane Speedy and Mike Gallant, group sculpt, photos (Davina Kirkpatrick/Glenn Hall). 160 25–40. Filmstrip – group sculpt, photos (Glenn Hall). 161–176 41. - Pockets workshop, photo-montage (Jane Speedy). 177 42. - Filmstrip – Hawkwood gardens, photos (Davina Kirkpatrick). 177 43. - Postcard, photo (Davina Kirkpatrick). 179 44. - Monoprint (Carol Laidler). 182
45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. -
Monoprint (Davina Kirkpatrick). 184 Monoprint (Davina Kirkpatrick). 186 Monoprint (Carol Laidler). 188 Moonprint (Davina Kirkpatrick). 190 Moonprint (Davina Kirkpatrick). 192 Monoprint (Sue Porter, Ann Rippin, Jane Speedy). 194 Collage with pastel and kisses (Carol Laidler, Davina Kirkpatrick, Jane Speedy). 196 Monoprinting, photo (Davina Kirkpatrick). 198 Shelling peas, photo (Davina Kirkpatrick). 198 Monoprinting, photo (Davina Kirkpatrick). 200 XIX Monprinting, photo (Davina Kirkpatrick). 202 Dinner discussions, photo (Davina Kirkpatrick). 202 Erik the Red, photo (Davina Kirkpatrick). 204 Postcard, photo (Carol Laidler). 209 Monoprint with collage (Tessa Wyatt). 215 Monoprint (Tessa Wyatt). 216 Monoprint (Tessa Wyatt). 217 Tessa’s cutouts in the bin, photo (Davina Kirkpatrick). 218 Monoprint (Alys Mendus). 219 Photopolymer print (Davina Kirkpatrick). 219 Collage (Davina Kirkpatrick). 220 Monoprint & collage (Melissa Dunlop). 221 Monoprints produced by the group, photo (Davina Kirkpatrick). 221 Drawing (Tessa Wyatt). 235 Postcard, photo (Davina Kirkpatrick). 243 Postcard, photo (Davina Kirkpatrick). 251 Postcard backs hand written by Ann Rippin.
Introduction(s) to this body of works/bodily workings/ works of these bodies. Jane Speedy with Davina Kirkpatrick, Sue Porter, Seema Shrenk and Jonathan Wyatt, including contributions from the EPTU project 3091, Melissa Dunlop, Carol Laidler, Margaret Page and Artemi Sakellariadis. Notes on the international symposium on the findings from ETPUi project 3091: the remaining realized archaeological excavations (actual fact; speculative fabulation and digital modelling) from twenty-first century southwest Britain/Albion. Symposium chair: Seema Shrenk. Panellists: Ho Ping Hung, Akiba Mordechai, Sonja Wedderkop, Owain Griffiths. Notetakers: Bahardhar Singh and Angela Dweck. Signer: Lucretia Kellog.
This symposium, facilitated by the global and pervasive archaeologies grouping, was held at the International Centre for Accessible Scholarship Decemination (ICASD),ii Addis Abbaba, March 3091. Seema Shrenk chaired the meeting, assisted by three human colleagues from the pervasive archaeologies network: Hung; Mordechai and Wedderkop and the project’s trained sniffer dog Owain Griffithsiii – a Welsh border collie. The simultaneously available digital notes of these encounters were taken for Eurasian language users by myself (Bahardhar Singh) and for the Scandinavian and Afro-Chinese delegates/readers by my colleague Angela Dweck.
Shrenk: I’ll just continue, if I may, from our last webinar: At some point quite late on in our excavations of this documentation and related matter(s) we found these scattered paper/digital files. They are believed to be a series of attempts by the original group of twenty-first century scholars to introduce this body of work in some kind of coherent fashion. It seems they had been writing/making the ensuing chapters in parts one to four of this volume between the years 2015 and 2020. The digital documents are auto-dated and were all found
‘permanently’, holographically zip-sealed. 2020 is the year from which popular European historians (and indeed historians and historiographers of Europe) have traditionally tended to date the death of ‘advanced capitalism’. There is, nonetheless, significant contemporary evidence to suggest that this extremely slow death and period of economic and social stagnation and unrest started at least half a century before 2020; long before any of the recorded comprehensive planetary viral or meteorological interventions. In our facsimile 3091 edition of this work we have kept the (tentatively) plural title ‘Introduction(s)’ from the original manuscript. The laws of the explicit/implicit multiplicities of all species/things were not commonly established in early twenty-first century material/cultural life. In these vitrines displayed around the rooms of the museum of scholarship we have copies of the original digital and paper manuscript versions of the text, as well as first and second editions of hard copies of the original book; all of which Owain found during the initial excavations. In the display at the far end of the seminar room we have set out all the texts that constitute the introduction(s). These are the texts we shall be referring to in this seminar/webinar: Introduction one: This introduction to the contributions in this book is in three parts that have been loosely quilted together. The first part is this, the work of myself, Seema Shrenk, archaeologist, archivist and academical from the thirty-second century PAE. My contributions form an integrating overview into which the other two parts, both fragments of writing from twenty-first century AAE British scholars, are integrated. These fragments have been excavated from sites close to Bristol in south west Britain, and are believed to have been written in the era running up to the great human decline and coronavirus pandemic, just before the building of the great cyber-wall between the USA and continental Europe in 2035. These unedited writings are placed below in ‘chronological’ order. The first fragment, entitled ‘prologue’ was written only a year or so before the second and, interestingly, quotes from some of my earlier archaeological recordings, as if …. This book of collaborative writings produced by Ani-net (the artful collaborative inquiry network at the University of Bristol) was originally intended to be edited by Jane Speedy,
Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Bristol and her colleague Sue Porter, Senior Research Fellow in the Norah Fry Centre for Disability Studies, University of Bristol. Unfortunately, shortly after the two scholars started the editorial project, Sue died unexpectedly, throwing both Jane as co-writer and friend and, indeed, the entire artful inquiry network, which Sue had co-co-ordinated, into disarray. The writing below in Italics is taken from Jane Speedy’s eulogy at Sue Porter’s funeral in February 2017 at Hawkwood College, Stroud:
Sue and I wrote together a lot – we wrote together in a variety of groups over the past decade or so and we also found ourselves tidying up after collaborative writing retreats – collecting up people's writing and tying it together .... We wrote a number of academic papers and book chapters together. She was my favourite writing companion – she wouldn't hesitate to cut into my writing with her own, or completely re-arrange it on the page, which gave me similar permissions. We would sit in cafes in Bristol – or at each other's kitchen tables ... our coffees getting colder and colder .... constantly swapping over writing machines and notebooks, as we wrote ourselves into and out of each other's lives. Recently we have been bringing together a series of pieces of people’s collaborative writing and collating these into an edited book, the third in the series from our research network. I'm going to read you our last piece of co-writing, destined for the prologue to our artful collaborative inquiry book. It's not very polished or finished, in fact it's hardly started, and it’s not one of the finest, most poetic pieces of Sue’s writing, but it is one of the last things Sue wrote and does demonstrate three things about her that I cherish dearly: her scholarship, her subversion and her humour. I cannot extract just Sue’s writing from this piece because we wrote collaboratively and I can no longer tell what bits are hers so I'm going to read it just as it came out – this is the first draft: There are three characters in this piece: Seema Shrenk an archaeologist from the 32nd century [this was a typical Sue Porter manoeuvre .... in order to gain a bit of distance on our writing, she brought in a character from 11 centuries into the future, to narrate the chapter]. Seema Shrenk had apparently uncovered a treasure-trove of
collaborative writing documents, largely from the archives of two twenty-first century scholars in the south-west of Britain. Seema narrates the piece and introduces the other characters: Sue Porter and Jane Speedy … The prologue begins:
Seema Shrenk: I am drawing your attention now to a conversation between these two twenty-first century scholars – they are clearly friends as well as colleagues, sitting together writing the prologue to their latest, edited book 2. By this stage in their co-writing relationship they routinely wrote into and out of each other's writing, so I would not assume as readers that the words coming out of Sue Porter’s mouth were put there by her, or equally, that Jane Speedy's words were sole-authored. My words as Seema Shrenk, thirty-second century archaeologist are of course my own, verbatim. Still, it is up to you as readers to make what you like of all this pre-historical material ... back to the dark days of the twenty-first century... JS: ‘We are just a couple of crippled old ladies sitting in a café.’ SP: ‘Speak for yourself. I'm no lady.’ JS: ‘I'll start that again... we are just a couple of old cripples sitting in a café.’ SP: ‘Speak for yourself. I'm not old.’ JS: ‘Well you're exactly the same age as me - a month older in fact.’ SP: ‘Exactly. Spring chickens the pair of us...’ JS: ‘So. I'll start that again, again. We're just a couple of cripples sitting in a café ...’ SP: ‘That's more like it....’ SS: I shall just contextualise this transcribed conversation for contemporary thirty-second century readers. This tongue-incheek exchange between the two scholars exemplifies and references twenty-first century attitudes to women and aging. Let me fill you in on some of the background: 1) Both these women had been engaged in the mid twentieth century bubble of feminist activity in the West known as the 'second wave'. 2) It was not cool to be old in the early twenty-first century as the aging population was a relatively new phenomenon (in fact by thirty-second century standards these two women were incredibly young - and had only just reached their early sixties).
3) This conversation predates the early cyborg movement by at least half a century – these two women were still moving around their world on electrically operated chairs on wheels that could not go upstairs or ladders or hover above the ground in any way and they were often found propping themselves up with a series of crutches and canes – domestic robotics was still in its infancy in this era. 4) In this dialogue the two speakers are heard reclaiming the word 'cripple' in the manner of Mcruer's (2006) crip theory, a spin-off from the use of the word queer in Butler’s previously reclaimed queer theory. There was, it should be said, quite a generic and much-needed queering of the academy in the early twenty-first century … Now ... Let's return to their conversation a little later on that same morning:
SP: ‘Fancy another coffee?’ JS: ‘Is it too early for a glass of fizz?’ SP: ‘Is it ever too early for a glass of fizz?’ JS: ‘And maybe a chocolate brownie?’ SP: ‘Or a rocky road, they do a very good rocky road here ...’ I'm afraid that's as far as we got but I will finish it for us later ... and get the book published ... Seema Shrenk: Postscript: These were the only documents we recovered from this writing as Sue Porter quite unexpectedly died in 2017, just as the two scholars were beginning to edit their volume of collaborative writing. Posthumous co-writing was not a commonplace twenty-first century practice. Mind-archiving technologies were in their earliest infancy in this era and therefore Porter’s collaborator, Speedy, had no access to Porter’s unformed and semi-formed thoughts and imaginings, much less psycho-neurologically accurate predictions and estimations of her future thinking. The prologue to the book stops rather abruptly here and is later picked up in the form of an introduction (now following on from this prologue, we do not know if anything else fitted into the year-long gap in the writing, nothing else has come to light in our excavations). The second introduction (below) was written collaboratively by Dunlop, Laidler, Page, Sakellariadis and Speedy,iv who are believed to have met in one of their homes in Bristol, just over
a year after Porter’s death, and continued with this project, this time writing very much in memory of Porter (see: Chapter Seven: Remembering Sue, this volume) and her interest in this work. It was decided at that time to keep Porter’s name on the front of the book (although it was not common twenty-first century practice for authors who were already dead to continue writing) in order to honour her contributions to this group of collaborative artful scholars and her influence on their work: past, present, and future.
My colleagues from the Pervasive Archaeologies Grouping, United Universities of the Mid-Planet (Earth) and myself found these documents as an unanticipated and rich extension of our excavations into early twenty-first century rural habitations and culinary customs along the valley of the eastern Usk. We have attempted to tidy the layout and collate and annotate these documents, whilst keeping the original archaic language; spellings, fonts, etc. (prologue for prolog/ conversation for facetalk/scholar for academical), we hope we have left them sufficiently intact and untampered-with to be found useful and accessible both to other anthropological and archaeological academicals, particularly socio-medical historians with an interest in earth at the time leading up to, and during, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, and also to lay readers with an interest in earlier planetary histories and geographies.v Introduction two/ or, perhaps, more of a methodological exemplar. (Dunlop, Laidler, Page, Sakellariadis and Speedy) Opening Up Space (for Gerald/ine) Snowstorm Emma, the Beast from the East is wreaking havoc… The plan took – I don’t know – 100 emails, maybe more, and many weeks. It was finally settled some months ago: a small group of us would gather and assemble this book, give it shape, form, clarity – perhaps even a sense of intention (“is there even a theme for this book?” someone maybe asked me in an aside – I think it was someone) – though that would be contrary to a process that that is mainly about allowing what is to emerge amidst the momentary flow, back and forth, between us. Is that
what we are doing? Trying to record this between space somehow? Who knows? Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4pm with lunch at The Greenbank Pub, Bristol We would write small explanations – like this one – to situate the reader (that’s you), link the sections, and help the whole hang together. But time moved differently that weekend, refusing the confines of the clock and stretching out in all directions - the way it does around certain life-defining processes – things like birth, death andvi – in the UK – snow. Is collaborative writing, then, a life defining process? By Friday there was no denying, we would have to change our plans. The emails began again and before we knew it …
Displacement; a deep intake of warm breath pushing out an exhalation of cold breath, dry icy air from Siberia, a product of global warming. Several people have lost their lives, photographs of cars in long queues; Do not abandon your vehicle! Or is it – Abandon your vehicle! What is the advice? Carol seems to have started our writing together … This weekend we were going to Greenbank but as we speak I am still in snowbank watching the blizzard whirling around outside. It is thick and deep ... the weather has me under house arrest. I am looking out across the rooftops through the swirling snow. Outside no traffic is coming down the road. They have all abandoned their journeys or their vehicles. If this is the field it (we) is all snowed in and we are a disparate group. A sediment is forming, intensities are clustering together, deterritorialising method, disrupting ways of knowing and doing. We will just have to not know what to do or how to do this. We are being re-invented by this writing across time/snow/ cities/countries/ we are not 'in the know' about this 'collaborative writing/artmaking' as inquiry malarkey, despite this being the third volume of our writing about it.
I am writing by way of welcome to this book, but to be honest, I don’t know a whole lot. I don’t know the history of this group – or if it even is a group. Perhaps more of a grouping? I haven’t even met everyone who features in these pages and that must go both ways. Most of these tales happened without me, and every one of them happened without someone, so I am (we are) like you in this respect: onlookers. I feel a twinge of exclusion even as I open up to you here, trying to be a good hostess, but winging it all the same. Is this too much/too strange/what are the rules? We have developed a way of doing this… in real time/ face to face/ and now we have started, differently, somewhere else, on a different day when I was down to be at home, writing other stuff to go in this book (or was that other stuff down to write me?).
5 [note from Seema Shrenk and thirty-second century overview team: there were many versions of this document, in some of which appeared a photograph of a snowy garden in others the parentheses above appeared, together with the large gap in the text, below]
It moves. There is always movement. There is always becoming. We were just a bit too certain, before we started, of what we were going to do. I even knew which pub we were going to eat our lunch in. Could someone send us some angels? Are angels allowed, because somebody died, quite a few people died in fact, and now we are snowed in and we could do with a few angels. Angels would be the kind of unpredictable leverage that could get us out of this mess.
Working from home On snowy days Knows no boundaries. One dining table. We eat here, I work there. I move around. Sit someplace else. Break habitual patterns, See things afresh Conjure up energy For mundane necessities. Check email first? My Inbox overflows Carol in Spain Thinks, worries, writes. Jane in Bristol Wants an angel Wants more writing Alys in Scotland Sends snow angel Tessa is typing Mike is amending Jon is reading Melissa is drinking Davina was editing Artemi was working (No, not me) I’ll join in Send another angel
And from Edinburgh (where another group is silently watching on / watching over this group):
6 Sending you all a snow angel... x
Well I am in the lunch pub - The Greenbank - now, a day before I am meant to be. I’m getting drunk with my neighbours because it has snowed and it seems we have some need to connect, be a community, bodily close while cut off from our usual worlds. Everything is ahead of time and warped. Tomorrow I will write, of grief perhaps. Today it is the apocalypse, time to face the facing of an end of an era... argh! To quote Joseph Dodds - We are all fucked.
My Guardian Angel By Judith Weir: www.youtube. com/watch?v=ydSJcPrGYlM (poor recording, listen out for the drone) Cold snow angels Musical guardian angels Fresh collaborative angels Blowing writerly winds Across snowy terrains Connecting us all In solitary union Rediscovering writing possibilities In remembering Sue…
Day One or is it Two? …. Apart Hello … What shall we do? No swirling today but I really don’t want to venture out in this ... Are Artemi and Melissa going to meet? Are we going to Skype? What do you think Melissa and Art? I think I’m staying at home. You could come here ... but what
about Melissa’s kids? O I dunno! We could start at 10 with a cuppa and write together. Then share it on Skype.
Yup. Very few trains running today, and Yes, I don’t think it those very delayed. What do you Not worth it, much is driving weather think? yet. I am here but though I’d like to see Melissa. Let’s are the trains still cancelled? Maybe start with what So maybe today tomorrow we could Jane suggests we’ll have a late and make it up as think about start. Say 11? And gathering and we go along. Two all write into writing today we Skype degrees today. at our own tables and drink our own Almost. with our own cups tea ... of tea knowing that is what we are all doing for 30 mins ... then we put it up here by noon and read it and see what we’ve got and Clocking in. Waiting for Jane’s where we are? doc, ready to read, then write. I’m still Agreed? in my pyjamas. Can do five-way skype Art? later (not in my pyjamas!). Sorry ... I don’t know how to at all ... praps just email ... get ready to start at 11am GMT ... and we’ll all write about / into writing in this way in this place ...
I will send a let’s start email Phew!! Just changed out of my pyjamas and dressing gown in case someone masters Skype and I’m here. Dressed. catches me Ready to be unawares!! writerly. How hard can it be? I used to have 3-way doc supervision with Ken in Plymouth and Jon in Oxford ... have a feeling Jono organised that ... or more likely Tess ... anyway am in jeans and jumper now so ready for anything!
It’s our writing time, I say we get/carry on with writing and hope Jane is well…
Jane are you there? (are you there Jane?) ... feels dark and so quiet
I wonder if Melissa … is staring at her screen willing an email from Jane to appear or if she, too, has made a start. My mind turns to Jane. Is she happily writing away having forgotten to send an email … has she forgotten about us altogether? I am not sure if Margaret or Carol even planned to write together – separately – this morning. Here we are writing an introduction to a book about writing together. This book: I don’t even know what it’s meant to be about, though from what I can tell it has … become about this moment … the perpetual motion of becoming something new and letting go of what was … just a moment ago. Crossing space and time like a matrix of neural pathways. The snow is preventing us meeting face-to-face so we are writing in temporal synchrony in our own homes, with our own cups of tea … We are writing together, but separately. Differently.
… this is strange … when we are in the same room writing together we usually just write alone, feeling the presence of others around us, each in a little bubble of our own, co-floating in a shared space, and now that we are apart there is much more nudging going on – perhaps in the way that we’d look up from our writing and acknowledge someone.
… this [separateness] makes a difference. It makes a sonic difference. I hear the Dunnocks in the hedge in the garden, but I do not hear the sounds of you typing or the scratch of your pens. I do not see you, cannot touch you. I do not know your colours … do not know what you are wearing today. Although I imagine that Artemi has lots of bracelets that jangle as she writes, which at some point, will irritate her, and she will take them off. Or perhaps she believes that they will irritate others and that is why she takes them off when we write. I should tell her that I associate the sound of them jangling with the soundscape of our writing together. Today they are a soundtrack playing only in my head. So right now I feel super-connected to Melissa, Jane and Carol, knowing that we are in this together, writing together in real time and yet separately in space. I am intrigued by this sense of connectedness which has no name other than Gerald.viii How can I describe your presence here, in this room – well no, not in this room, but in the act of writing? I got out of bed this morning, the shutters were pressed down with tiny slits of light, sunlight? No sound of the downpour … Shoeless down the cold stairs to the living room to open the shutters and reveal a windless mottled sky. Inside the room two large thick black worms slither across the white marble floor. 7 Somehow the sight of those worms makes my stomach clench, it’s irrational but inevitable perhaps. I find a biro and pick them up one by one, plop them into a glass bowl and carry them grimly out to the sodden grass. A blackbird hops expectantly nearby – they have as much chance as a character in The Hunger Games. They seem to have two heads, or two tails, or perhaps no head at all – blindly ambidextrous.
‘The end is in the beginning, and yet we go on’.ix How many ways do ends and beginnings slip into one another? I will find out more about worms later I think; how on earth did they get in through the locked windows and shutters? This is a different kind of intimacy, a different writing space, a different proximity. We are all trapped in places on a map, separated by space, connected by the ether, intra, inter, computer trails, pipelines that really do exist below the sea, lying in the hollows of old trading routes. The deep waters of knowing mingle with the shallows of the new, unknowing, unknown.
I am not sure if their willingness to write together from a distance is buoying me up in some mysterious way or if it’s a little trick of the mind, that I tell myself that this is a ‘peopled space’ to bring myself to the task. With the loss of a place or a person known well, I feel how much they have become a part of me, of having built a shared history, even if it was only a fragment of all there was … just enough for a sense of connection, for the knowing that goes beyond words, a powerful feeling transmitted with a glance, a sense of another feeling how I feel. Knowing. Known. It certainly is an incentive to write, but it’s not, I am absolutely sure that it’s not … how shall I put this? The abstract knowledge that they are there and writing does not generate this sense of connectedness for me, it is the felt knowledge, my sense of their presence, that makes the difference for me. And the weirdest thing is that I felt their presence even at the very beginning, when I started writing, not knowing if anyone else was there ready to write. I feel the gossamer threads pulling me a short distance east to Melissa; a short distance south to Margaret, busy in the city hall; much further west to Artemi by the sea and very much further south, bursting right out of this snowbound silent membrane towards Carol, stuck in Spain … The cartographies of our intimacies and proximities are viscerally, almost visually, laid out before me … Writing to you in a parallel place. Our words will combine, creating new meanings, new pathways. Writing about writing, about connections, leaps of imagination, building on thoughts, conversations, coincidence. My incident is connected to your incident. I feel the connectedness pulling me away from everyday life; the
Dunnocks in the hedge; the bright light of the snow. And yet this is a different connectedness from our usual writing together moments. Here we are, all writing together, and later we are going to share our writing with each other, but this is different, this being kept apart, this lack of physicality, from our more usual writing ‘with’ each other.
Materials of the internet age, rotting in waste heaps in Africa, the electronic graveyard of Agbogbloshie, where children scavenge for the most precious parts, while the rest of our waste slowly rots down and poisons the land. Interconnected through waste. I like the irony of paradise on an off day, weather no longer permitting, creatures all in the wrong places, nature fighting back. It doesn’t take long as we know, we have plenty of evidence … but still the governments cowtow to the machinery of global corporations and profit and we turn our faces from the what-will-come to keeping comfortable in the here-and-now. Oh, the grieving – and blended in, the possibility of something new. And the challenge to allow ourselves to feel both, to be both. The continuous state of journeying, away from all that gave meaning, purpose, connection to being here, finding meaning and purpose in some new way. Connected. Alive. I offered to connect us all on Skype to read our writing, so that we can listen to what the others have written. Well that brings an interesting new dimension because that would somehow draw in all our significant others in this space. Anybody else who is in our homes right now, will also be present in our togetherness if we connect via Skype. That would feel really weird… I hear the noises of preparations to go to the park - an excited dog; the pulling on of waterproof over-trousers; the search for the keys; the finding of the collar. Soon I will be here alone with you as usual. But this is not at all usual. We do not bring the people we share our lives with when we come away writing together. This is a different kind of proximity. There he lies … Mysterious on the inside. The lack of a reference point, a shared history, rendering him opaque, a surface that cannot yet be penetrated, seen into, recognised on a vibrational level. (Un)known. The strangeness of the new, compelling yet painful for not being old. A doorway opens. A doorway closes. Goodbye and hello and goodbye, all at once. I miss the old ways so much and yet, I wouldn’t have missed this moment now – not for all the world!
Just realised everyone else is dressed and proper. Here I am, lank hair and pyjamas, draped in blankets. I am sitting here, as yet unwashed ... And the rain has started again … I am wrapped in a blanket to keep warm ... I am indeed dressed – but in truth I have returned to bed and am addressing you from there. I was going to say something about your undress – but it slipped away ... or perhaps I felt inhibited about drawing attention to your unmade state. I am not sure why we have all reached for our clothes to type! Perhaps it is about our intimacy. I am moved to write again, whether or not it is time. Ready to reveal yourselves?
I am at my table in the living room. I hear only the Dunnocks. No traffic. No aeroplanes. At last a distant car. There are no buses or lorries. The quiet has followed the snow, both covering the city. Two membranes of whiteness and silence. We are beneath them writing to each other. We are attempting collaborative writing across countries, across cities. For the first time we are not all in the same room and this feeling is echoed in the layout of the writing. Wonderful to read you all into being
We are all trapped by the weather and find ourselves where we should not be. We should now be going to the pub, but I went yesterday, sucked in to the proximal world around me, a world which I normally avoid, consider not my world, and yet (I now realise) it has been calling me, gently, persistently … We have written ourselves into proximity, into each other’s lives. The neighbours came around in the evening and drank wine around my fire. It seems they have been waiting for my invitation all this time. I have indulged myself in a story of being alone, when I am only elsewhere, not where I once was, not with whom I was once with. [Not] who I once was? I feel very interconnected with the three of you in this writing. And the worm. The worm has made its way through the worm hole into our
worlds, as mysteriously as it did into your apartment. And I have travelled through a wormhole into a different part of reality. We are all on the move. Like the worm, our direction of travel may take the form of a u-turn, but movement is, nonetheless, always already in the frame,
I have felt myself trapped by geography, space crowded round, by needing to wait for time to pass. I have been connecting - in a more real way within the virtual world,x where we are now – virtually present, connected through this task, the writing ... I am here now. Virtually and actually. I’ve just spoken to Melissa on Skype and was reminded what a difference it makes to have a face-to-face conversation, even if we are still separated by distance, by snow, by computer screens. It feels great to have reconnected … I think of myself as a new person here, still arriving, but actually, I realise, it has been three years since I first encountered this group … I could tell immediately – it made complete sense to me … kind of a home … I love this, what’s happening between us … why has it taken me so long to say? Truth is sometimes produced through standard experimentation, through tried and tested methods, but also through ‘looking for the blue’xi for the struggle to find different pathways that lead to more hopeful outcomes. The trouble with making things up as we go along is that we amend the rules … so whatever you do, you end up following and breaking the rules. We make and break rules. We flout the fences that we have put up around the fields of play. I’ve been wanting to explore what it feels like to write together and separately, but have found it difficult. Perhaps because I found the uncertainty of what we’re doing unsettling? I realise how tentative I have been, not wishing to impose myself upon an established group of writers … wondering how things work, who is in charge, where the centre lies. I have been occupying a two-dimensional space. On this occasion, these ways of being together, of writing
together, were happened upon, and in opening these spaces we discovered the multiplicity of simultaneous stories and geographies had overblown themselves like snow blowing through roof tiles. . I quite often do my first stint of work for the day in my pyjamas … but there is nobody around to see and I don’t go around – telling anyone. So I’m intrigued that I told you I was in pyjamas this morning and am even more intrigued to see others either rushing to get dressed or declaring that they are not even in pyjamas. I have been wondering if I am welcome …
We were multiply connected, misshapen by events into a different map of where we once were. I also intrigued by newfound intimacies in this way of writing together … things we would not ordinarily mention when we meet face-to-face because there would be no need … if we are in clothes or pyjamas … or if we are wearing anything at all, get mentioned here and, by virtue of having been written, leave a larger foot print than any casual remark about a nice jumper. In my uncertainty, I have been unable to reach past the layers of clothing, unable to show you what is inside. We were not looking for the blue, but rather, caught in the white, and as such found ourselves, as the blue found us, inventing and circumventing in new ways, worming our way out of a hole we had been in for some time. Certain we knew what we were doing. At the same time, precisely because we are not meeting face-to-face, we can take liberties about doing our writing in our pyjamas or just wrapped in a blanket. And this is where this way of being together becomes different from any other: we tell one another of these things, inviting in our midst little intimacies that we may not ordinarily have brought into the fold. … now I think perhaps it is you who has been wondering … why has she brought herself here to us? Making u-turns like the neighbours, waiting patiently for my invitation, while I wrestle with the time-space continuum. And this, in turn, these little shared moments of indiscretion (is that the right word?) create, at least for me, even more intimacy. In this writing, we are shaping each other.
I am beginning to grasp these threads, these tendrils of connection.
In this introduction to our work, we are trying to describe a non-fixed, moving way of writing, a way of writing that inquires into the spaces between us and tries, in these moments, to hold up to the light; to hold up for consideration, some of the ‘emergent possibilities’ that some have sometimes named ‘Gerald’. Some of these ways, these possibilities might include proximity, coming together, talking, listening, witnessing even and, held in this space, might then include more writing, a more extended inquiry. Some of what we have done, made, written, and included here in this book could be named ‘collective biography’, some could be named ‘collaborative writing as inquiry’, but given that all writing is collaborative, between writer and audience, some could equally be named ‘writing as inquiry’; yet again, some could be named artful inquiry. It is all inquiry. It is all inquiring into emergent possibilities. It is all Gerald. There is a thumping overhead, birds stomping away on my rooftop: gathering, surveying, territorial. They don't care how much I paid for that roof. They aren't asking my permission; they have their own agenda. In the garden, the snow is melting and the Dunnocks are out, pecking about. All this space just to themselves. They are spoiling themselves with noisiness. I think they are louder than usual. So do they. I have been out to look at the world, and it is melting, the snow, going slushy and transparent, on the turn from white to black, like my mind which is changing, isolated yet connected, trying to make sense of today’s writing and wondering where to go from here. There lies the joy and absurdity of naming this space Gerald. I name this Spanish worm Geraldine. For she wriggles, full of emergent possibilities, across a cold marble floor. As do we. There is tomorrow.
* Night Falls Again * I have sneaked a moment to respond respond to you. Wish I could be there ther e with you all… I read read through through yesterday’ yesterday’ss writing… wish I could see you all. The writing turns turns from from confessional to making sense. It’s It’s true that writing from from afar involves describing things that would otherwise be noted and forgotten forgotten in a quick peruse, and the sense of what is said is amplified.
Life bleeds into our writing. Last night I watched the last episode of The Detectorists, which is all about men and sheds, and searching searching and not finding treasur tr easure, e, while not noticing the true treasur treasure e in life... and it made me cry. cry. In a sense, that is what we are are doing in our writing connections, our artful inquiry, inquiry, searching sear ching for treasur treasure e and discovering it’s it’s been there there all along. Day Two or is it Three - Together We are writing an introduction to a collection of writings I have not read. But really we are just writing - entering a zone where quiet connection is written into being. A space of meditative possibilities I/we spoke ourselves into connection by attending to each other’s words, with care. A careful attention. Moving into inquiry away from the realms of ‘facts’. In the listening this morning I heard the differences between our voices, accents, diffidences, confidences, tones that come across only sonically. As a reader yesterday, you all spoke with my voice in my head, and in the speaking, I did not hear the sense that my writing made to me yesterday. Today it was not nonsense but it did not make the same sense. There is a
sensory difference: in the where and what of felt sense. There are sonic and aesthetic differences; are there ethical differences, I ask myself? Three of us have laptops, but Margaret is writing with pen and notepad. This sounds different, does it read differently?
We are, we said, writing to inquire - how is writing in physical proximity different to writing in the same real time from separate physical spaces and in email contact? I could not have written this from a separate space without seeing, hearing, sharing quiet concentration … Hearing voices. Seeing us all wearing jumpers. Melissa has a wood burning stove. I did say when I arrived that coming here was like joining another planet – space and time travel – but I wanted to and here I am and I am finding that this writing is grounding, lifeaffirming – is that what doing inquiry is? … above the fireplace is Klimt, wrapped in only a bedspread, having a golden, sensual cuddle. Yes, this is different from writing by myself: aesthetically, sonically, contextually different. I am feeling moved … moving into intimacy is not so straightforward … fishing for something that can’t be caught. Until it is, of course. An intangible quality that isn’t there to begin with and then some time later, is. I am here wondering if we are all here trying to catch a moment, grasping at the magic, unknowable, in between, liminal (and now I know who Gerald is) Gerald-ness of being? The pleasure of writing together by firelight – pleasure of writing together ... We are painting on our separate easels. We encourage, contribute to a space that enables, focuses our individual creativities … In writing like this we ‘see’ each other and each our own self. What is the value of this - beyond a process of self-healing? How does the writing produced contribute to knowledge, beyond the personal? Carol writes about the futile efforts of people looking for treasure when treasure has been in their midst all along …This
is how I feel about collaborative writing … it's the process that brings me back again and again, carving out time that wasn't available, to take part … Yes, the process is pleasurable, but what I really wanted to say is that I've found that by not constraining ourselves by preconceived notions of outcome – or, indeed, of process, as it turned out this weekend – we open ourselves up to possibilities and can become the river that is surprised at its own unfolding.xii The process is not an end in itself. Room 407 is not a home, I am not at home, but here, in Melissa’s house, where I have never been before, I feel an at-homeness … that I did not feel yesterday at home.
If our writing were water flowing through channels let loose or held by complex systems of interlocking gates – sluices – irrigating life. Perhaps liveliness. If this were a metaphor for this type of writing – a moment in which the channels were opened – channels traditionally shut fast against free-flowing imagination so that thinking is deprived of nutrients and starved of imagination – forced to make do with poor soil, chemically enhanced to support lists of facts, neoliberal bureaucracy, the planning process – starved, poor, soil dead words. Lists, lifeless words without content, plants without scent of colour that is brilliant, lucid – lucida – lucid, that shines out sparkle. Sparks alive. Life force. … change can happen in the most unexpected places … in leaps and bounds – and dreams will not be curtailed. An introduction then. Apparently that is what this is. So, by way of introduction I would like to share a desire not to frustrate the reader with nonsense … Artemi wants us to write for ourselves, without reference to the audience for now. So it seems inevitable that someone else, me for example, might feel an impulse to do the opposite and write to you, the invisible reader, silent up until now; I can only imagine what you must be thinking. Shaking your head maybe, or perhaps you will be a little intrigued because here is a bit about you, and you might be curious to know what I have noticed about you. How I see you. And all I can say is that, well, we probably don’t know each
other, but I really want you here. This has opened up a different space again. More cacophonous and giggle-filled than before, with immediate feedback: we are pleased with our writing, but will you be, the silent reader who was evoked just then? Are you silent or are you adding to the cacophony? I see you also as a writer, with your own group of writing companions, your own woodburner… or maybe you are from a warmer country and you are reading this beneath a different palm tree in a hammock …
26 Our themes elide but we are all different. I was thinking when I
read that last piece aloud that I seem to be trying to write more like Artemi, but then I slid back into myself again. It is so hard to avoid, even in speaking to you, my own positioning. There has been so much journeying, so much ground covered, and the words can’t capture it, not all of it, only sensation. The moving through, becoming, sometimes in isolation and sometimes in unity. Oh, the anxiety of it, the coming into contact. The sensation of a moment of meeting.xiii And then the need to rush away … And I have felt it, the difficulty coming together until the moment came where we were. The circling around, the reaching for something more familiar, or less. After we have written, when I stop writing this, we will go for Sunday lunch at the Greenbank. We will let it go and you go. And then we will return. In and out. Close and apart. With one another, then somewhere else completely. We breathe … and then we do not breathe … and somebody new breathes in their turn. My wish for you, then, is that when you read this you will feel close to us, touched, allowed inside and intimate. Not looking in through a window upon a world of people who once talked to one another, wrote words to one another, knew each other – without you. You are here. We are writing the introduction to a book and we have tried to tell ourselves that we are just writing for now, unconstrained by any writing conventions, trying to speak as us … here we are… trying to speak to invisible others as ‘just us’... And you know what? Everyone else seems to be talking to our invisible
audience in one way or another, so hello from me too. I’m not going to … sound more serious, more formal, if you like. There is something about connecting with one another as human-tohuman, without the pomp and circumstance of particular roles in particular institutions, or assuming a position of authority because I am tapping away on a keyboard, complete with
Endnotes i. ETPU: a meaningless academic acronym. ii. see above. iii. Owain Griffiths, like the entire Griffiths Border Collie dynasty, was well versed in olfactory methods for the identification and excavation of twentieth/early twenty-first century digital technologies. iv. Dunlop, M., Laidler, C., Page, M., Sakellariadis, A. and Speedy, J. were all affiliated to ‘ANI-net’ (the artful narrative inquiry network) a loose grouping/participatory platform for academics; writers; artists and other interested local community members, whose body of work emanated from the school of education at the University of Bristol. v. See also Shrenk, S., Mordechai, A. and Wedderkop, S. (3057) Excavations along the Usk: changes to culinary habits and food hoarding/ordering at the time of the first global coronavirus outbreaks, in: Journal of Historical Sustainabilities, IV (12) 124186. vi. Quick explanatory note from Seema Shrenk and thirtysecond century ‘voices of the Gods’ overview team: Readers are reminded here that this version of the introduction was written at least two years before the global coronavirus pandemic of 2020, which explains the glaring absence of the phrase ‘global pandemic’ in this list of time-bending events. vii. Dodds, J. (2011) Psychoanalysis and Ecology at the Edge of Chaos: Complexity theory, Deleuze|Guattari, and psychoanalysis for a climate in crisis. London:Routledge. viii. ‘Gerald’, for a more detailed explanation of the sustainable and salugenic sense of community, ethical know-how and connectedness created/experienced by this form of collaborative writing/art-making together, see: Speedy. J. (2010) Encountering ‘Gerald’: Experiments with Meandering Methodologies and Experiences Beyond Our ‘Selves’ in a Collaborative Writing Group, in: Qualitative Inquiry 16 (10) 894901. ix. Beckett, S. (1958) Endgame, London: Faber and Faber. x. DeLanda, M. (2015). The New Materiality. Architectural Design. 85. 10.1002/ad.1948. xi. Levitas, R. (2007) Looking for the blue, the necessity of utopia, in: Journal of Political Ideologies. 12 (3) 289-306. xii. O’ Donohue, J. (2000) Unfinished Poem. xiii. Buber, M. (1958) I and Thou. Translated by Ronald Gregor Smith. Scribner Classics Edition. New York, London: Scribner
Part one Keeping the Inquiry Space Open.
Introduction to part one. Jane Speedy and Artemi Sakellariadis.
The phrase ‘open space’ has its origins in organisational studies and participatory inquiry movements. Delegates to organisational studies conferences (like delegates to many conferences) began to find the open discussions between the formal agenda items the most fruitful and inspiring spaces to meet. Gradually, ‘open spaces’ began to be inserted into the timetables of organisational studies, group and community work (and other) conferences (see: https://openspaceworld.org/ wp2/) and advocates of ‘open space’ and similar practices (see, for example the ‘world café movement’) began to form a participatory movement. Open space meetings began to have an agreed (lack of) structure, whereby: ‘Whoever comes are the right people; Whatever happens is the only thing that could have; Whenever it starts is the right time; When it’s over, it’s over’ (Deutsch, 2018). For many reasons, some documented elsewhere (Speedy, 2015), the artful/narratively informed teaching and research programmes at the University of Bristol were gradually phased out during 2012/3 and replaced with a less formal network: the artful narrative inquiry network (ANI-Net). One of the disadvantages of the previous research centre (CeNTraL: the centre for narratives and transformative learning) was its adherence to the hierarchical university structures and formalities, which were perhaps not the best fit for participatory, collaborative artful, storied forms of inquiry, or for thinking with feminist, post-structural and post-human ideas. Once this centre had been replaced by a more loosely defined network, the people (some university staff and students, plus other people interested in these ideas) who presented themselves as the ‘movers and shakers’ at the start of the network’s life wrote the text that defined the interdisciplinary network’s interests: ‘ANI-net scholars are committed to exploring interdisciplinary ways in which artful and collaborative practices of narrative research can extend and enhance the parameters of qualitative
inquiry with people; environments and communities. We are informed by post structuralist, post-human, post-colonial and feminist ideas, as well as cooperative and participatory inquiry practices.’i They were eager to open as much of the network’s space as possible to anybody interested in its ideas and practices. They were particularly interested in emergent, facilitative and iterative inquiry forms; in all forms of collaborative art-making and writing and in creating atmospheres of accessibility and inclusivity: thus, alongside more formal annual lectures and scholarly seminars, the monthly ‘narrative open space’ was started. Anybody who came was welcomed, and given the space on the timetable if they so chose, to speak and/or present their work and ideas to the group at some juncture. Rather akin to Manning’s ‘senselab’ii in Montreal, the members of ani-net were ‘drawn and held together by affinity rather than by any structure of membership or institutional hierarchy’ (see: Manning and Massumi, 2014).
This was not a chaotic, ‘anything goes’ atmosphere, but rather a welcoming, inclusive space, conducive to experimentation, whereby each month, one person was invited to present their work or practice or ideas as a way of opening the space for conversation, then at some point the whole group would write and /or make visual images collaboratively into the space that had been offered by that conversation/presentation. Subsequently, each person would read out what they had written, or show what they had made. Sometimes this collaborative process of talking/writing/reading/talking was repeated several times, which gradually, iteratively, became the network’s culture of collaborative working/writing/art-making/ book making. The two chapters in part one of this book offer an insight into this practice: chapter one shows a group meeting to witness the struggles that an established, founding member of the network was having with a book she was writing and includes collaboration with whoever turned up that evening: some established scholars, some people passing through, some others. Chapter two demonstrates the use of the same, or similar, practices over several sessions (lasting about a year) by a scholar from another local university who was not
initially as familiar with this process. Both chapters document the response-ability and responsibilities of the group of inquirers. Contemporary university scholarship offers people very few non-competitive, non-hierarchical open inquiry spaces that encourage creative expression and experimentation in making, writing and/or speaking together. The liveliness and creative, scholarly atmosphere of these monthly meetings would be hard to find elsewhere within the contemporary academy.
Endnotes i. see: http://aninetwork.wordpress.com ii. see: https://senselab.ca/wp2/
Chapter one. Everyday Fragments on the Ceiling of Room 407: An Open Narrative Inquiry Space. Jane Speedy with Prunella Bramwell-Davis, Jan Filer, Lynn Maddern, Jelena Nolan Miljevic, Sarah Nymanhall, Sue Porter, Bubukee Pyrsou, Malcolm Reed, Artemi Sakellariadis, Peggy Styles, and Goya Wilson Vasquez.
36 A GROUP OF SCHOLARS INTERESTED IN COLLABORATIVE/
NARRATIVE INQUIRY HAD GATHERED IN ROOM 407 to listen to Jane Speedy talking about her latest book Staring at the Park. Jane talked about how she had come to write/draw this work by setting down the fragments of her everyday life, as she had experienced/imagined it after having suffered a severe stroke. Disconnected experiences had seemed to blow about all around her. The fragments that make up this article consist of Jane’s call (Gale, 2014) and some of the responses to her writing/drawing that were evoked in the atmosphere of an ‘open narrative inquiry space.’ This text offers/ invites us not so much into a ‘stream of consciousness’ as to invite us across the threshold into a uniquely fragmented experience of life. But as Wyatt (2014) reminds us, thresholds are multiplicitous and always present. Like Wyatt, these authors ‘argue for scholarship that embraces the discomfort – the terror – of the threshold’ (p. 8). (Jane Speedy reads from her book, 2015:45) A PROCESS OF WRITING DEVELOPED EVENTUALLY/OR AT LEAST A METHOD OF PLACING ALL THE SCRAPS TOGETHER; alongside, in juxtaposition emerged/staring then writing or drawing/staring again/blatant scrutiny of a local habitation with a name/St. Andrews Park/chronicled/ Scraps and fragments of work from Sappho, written on papyrus, float in on the red dust of a wind from Africa: ‘they arrived. But you, O blessed one smiled in your deathless face and asked what (now again) I have suffered and why (now again) I am calling out’ (Carson, 2003:3). I write these scraps and fragments from my life and toss them
to the Westerlies, in imitation of a heroine long since dead, unlike her Gods, who cannot, do not, ever die, presenting us with deathless face/ We grasp at Sappho’s words between the silences and blanks across the centuries/ I imagine into her spaces/ I imitate these scratchings with my justifications/ borders/edges/verges that draw lines down and across my scribbled notes from times in hospital/etched onto the scraps where I start to write my musings on the park/she has papyrus that we will yet find/I have an iPad that justifies the edges of my text/ AND SOME OF YOU ARE CONCERNED/
With how my words sit on the page/ This work in stanza form/ squeezed into the centre of the page/ You try to work out reasons for these line breaks which some times chop WO RDS in half/ Funnelled down the page/ Is this intentional or just a formatting error, you ask? OLD BITS OF CLOTH, LEFT ON AN ISLAND BY SAPPHO/ ‘Breaks are always’, to quote Derrida (1981: 24), ‘and fatally, re-inscribed in an old cloth that must continually and interminably, be undone.’ Translators, like Anne Carson (2003:xi) use square brackets ‘to give an impression of missing matter’ or ‘the presence of letters not quite legible’ . . . Not every gap or space or illegibility is indicated as ‘this would render the page a blizzard of marks and would inhibit reading.’ Similarly, I leave an uneasy silence when you ask for justifications of all my margins, verges, and justifications as this would render the text awash with justifications for my
formatting/narrow margins are probably just that/equally wide verges/ The gaps are where the excitement lies for the reader who sees them as part of the text/ it is a visual text/and all about staring into space and walking down narrow passages/
38 ‘brackets imply a free space of imaginal adventure’ (Carson, 2003: xi):
And we are left, from Sappho, the lyricist, with: ‘] ] ] ]thought ]barefoot ] ] ]’ (Carson, 2003, p. 12) and our imaginings/in the spaces/where the writing has faded/ and I am left/ staring at the park/ marked and spattered with spectral traces/ mapped by foxes and humans along pathways/
stories of the park and recent memories of the hospital that seem larger and more substantive and densely peopled than the rest of life/ standing alone without a blizzard of justifications /frail/ THE NOTES FROM MY DAYS IN THE HOSPITAL TWO YEARS AGO/PRESERVED IN TWO NOTEBOOKS/ Are faded in places and water-stained/
I too use square brackets in my text to ‘give an impression of missing the fragments we have from the texts of the ancients/ were recorded by scribes onto papyrus sheets and written down in straight, narrow columns - as if taken from oral renditions/ giving no hint of spacing or intonation’ (Carson, 2003, pp. ix-xii). I have tried to emulate this style in my own text/ writing in narrow columns as if listening and translating my thoughts and imaginings while staring at the park/ taking them down in translation/ the stanzas and spacing indicating not the rhythms the author envisaged in the flow of the work, but the gaps and disjunctures between fragments of thoughts/ stories/
found poems in conversations overheard/ BORROWED FORMS FROM ANCIENT POETS/ ORAL WORKS INSCRIBED WITH TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY TECHNOLOGIES/
marks made on paper in narrow columns/ emulating ink stained texts/ Contemporary stains and emulations made by formatting processes and dropdown menus/choices to justify selected work/ whole documents or lonely only paragraphs/ the poetic inquirers, both linguistic and literary (see Prendergast, Leggo and Sameshima, 2009) tell us that verse in stanza is the closest written form to spoken words/but I invite the readers to construct their own stanzas and accents from my narrow columns/translated from snatches of conversation buried in some pocket of my mind/ like discarded tissues in cardigan sleeves /these scraps are slowly teased out/
This work in stanza form/ squeezed into the centre of the page/ You try to work out reasons for these line breaks which some times chop WO RDS in half/ Funnelled down the page/
Is this intentional or just a formatting error, you ask? OLD BITS OF CLOTH, LEFT ON AN ISLAND BY SAPPHO/ “Breaks are always” to quote Derrida (1981: 24) “and fatally, re-inscribed in an old cloth that must continually and interminably, be undone.” Translators, like Anne Carson (2003: xi), use square brackets ‘to give an impression of missing matter’ or ‘the presence of letters not quite legible’ . . . Not every gap or space or illegibility is indicated as ‘this would render the page a blizzard of marks and would inhibit reading.’
Similarly I leave an uneasy silence when you ask for justifications of all my margins, verges, and justifications as this would render the text awash with justifications for my formatting/narrow margins are probably just that/equally wide verges/ The gaps are where the excitement lies for the reader who sees them as part of the text/ it is a visual text/and all about staring into space and walking down narrow passages/ ‘brackets imply a free space of imaginal adventure’ (Carson, 2003: xi): And we are left, from Sappho, the lyricist, with: ‘] ] ] ]thought ]barefoot ]
] ]’ (Carson, 2003, p. 12) and our imaginings/in the spaces/where the writing has faded/
and I am left/ staring at the park/ marked and spattered with spectral traces/ mapped by foxes and humans along pathways/ stories of the park and recent memories of the hospital that seem larger and more substantive and densely peopled than the rest of life/standing alone without a blizzard of justifications/frail/ THE NOTES FROM MY DAYS IN THE HOSPITAL TWO YEARS AGO/PRESERVED IN TWO NOTEBOOKS/ Are faded in places and water-stained/ I too use square brackets in my text to ‘give an impression of missing the fragments we have from the texts of the ancients/ were recorded by scribes onto papyrus sheets and written down in straight, narrow columns - as if taken from oral renditions/ giving no hint of spacing or intonation’ (Carson, 2003, pp. ix-xiii). I have tried to emulate this style in my own text/
writing in narrow columns as if listening and translating my thoughts and imaginings while staring at the park/ taking them down in translation/ the stanzas and spacing indicating not the rhythms the author envisaged in the flow of the work,
but the gaps and disjunctures between fragments of thoughts/ stories/ found poems in conversations overheard/ BORROWED FORMS FROM ANCIENT POETS/ORAL WORKS INSCRIBED WITH TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY TECHNOLOGIES/ marks made on paper in narrow columns/emulating ink stained texts/ Contemporary stains and emulations made by formatting processes and dropdown menus/choices to justify selected work/ whole documents or lonely only paragraphs/ the poetic inquirers, both linguistic and literary (see Prendergast, Leggo & Sameshima, 2009) tell us that verse in stanza is the closest written form to spoken words/but I invite the readers to construct their own stanzas and accents from my narrow columns/translated from snatches of conversation buried in some pocket of my mind/like discarded tissues in cardigan sleeves
/these scraps are slowly teased out/
(Whereupon Malcolm replies:)
I’VE GO Tan hang Over well I ... Where are the para ceta Troopers when you need them? Beyond the fragments Sheila do we Ever Fig Ments and frag…ile frac Tious Norm likes/hates has to Have it norm-al-Ised / Won’t publish without self-Reference I could murder a smoke right now Dis-appear in wreaths Wassafeckinword? Croquet
Play croquet with my own smoke Rings A bel Tingaling Wears red where the cab Ernie Patch it up with alcohol Glyssop Mead honeyed or Margaret Mines a shaft You can’t say that You cannot say that O go on GO ON Goon Lotsa peepholes paddling in a pool Piddling on a
Lie low She asked for fragments And had me in bits Maybe I’ll go and set up Sit on that bench And buy me some Draw No Might do No Might Go on One step backwards two step Forwards step outta Babylon (To which Sue adds:) HOW DO YOU WRITE YOUR experience of everyday life?
It comes in rushes and then stumbles to a stop ... / A career of coherence, disrupted by a grinding/ snarling, snagging . . . For eight few moments the words flow/ so fast and sure that I cannot re-member what I said ... / And then, like riding a bike and looking down I wobble/ correct, re-correct and finally crash to the ground/ What I’d like is all those stories written in my mind to flow onto the page in the rhythm of my soliloquy/Here I’m being somewhat in control, just enough authority to hand it all over to Jane – and to collect it back again before we leave/ Oh hell, I’d meant to mention the Book hive – will I remember before the end? Will people stay? Jane is talking about her stroke – and the words sound so solid, firm/And I remember the sharp feeling of tears again/ Not this time for Jane but for the words I read in the email from my brother this morning—saying, oh so casually, asking whether he’d told me he’d had a small stroke (NO) but not to worry (NO?) he’d had lots of tests (tests? India? Oh yes)/ They were so reassuring when I was sick with dysentery/ The doctor followed by his bag carrier/ No carrying your own bag in India, so reassuring, it somehow felt so much better than the NHS (National Health Service) with its long
waiting lists, appointments, cubicles, and consultants who spread their fingers on the desk and don’t look at you when they say ‘incurable,’ ‘nothing I can offer,’ and ‘let us know if anything changes’/ ANYTHING CHANGES?
EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED, IS CHANGED —Enough, Enough— My brother, in his email, telling his sadness at having to leave his lover/My brother, not wanting to come back/ Me—planning a rescue: a job for him, a place to stay/ Cutting through all the other tasks/ driven by the need (I have) to salve the pain and solve the problem/
(. . . and Sarah writes:) THAT WOMAN: WHO DO I COME HERE AS? COULD I BE THE MYSTERY GUEST? My disguise perhaps that of a carer or partner or assistant to Jane. But ... my underlying motivation could be construed as malevolent. Fairly Freaked: I’ve been watching that woman who came with Jane/ What do you think she’s doing here? She has a conspicuously suspicious look about her Somewhat Spooked: I agree ... there’s something aloof and slightly sinister about her/ Fairly Freaked:
Maybe she’s here to gather information about us ... you know one of those Undercover Infiltrators who join radical groups and feed back information to their bosses/ Just be careful what you say to her if she asks you any questions ... and don’t approach her ... she could be dangerous/ Somewhat Spooked: It’s just as well we’ve got the door open/ otherwise the situation could develop into one of those awful Agatha Christie moments/
Fairly Freaked: What do you think she’s writing about? ... She’s staring around the room a lot/ in between plying her pen/ Somewhat Spooked: It’s really creepy, the way she stares ... and writes ... then stares ... and writes ... Fairly Freaked: Just keep your head down/
(And Bubukee contributes:) A BODY HERE, A DISCOURSE there, A thought, an idea, of a body Pear Some noise of the projector, Its by-product spat on the wall, I feel like I was here always, and yet can’t remember a minute ago/ Lungs keep breathing, spine set on its half bone It’s scary to think of my body – as if – having to run it on my own/ Plenty of wear and tear, 2 breasts missing Even Devon was flooded by reminiscing/ Stanza or Prose I get on a rhythm, It suddenly changes,
the winter is finishing/ (And Goya, who did not read out her writing in the room, silently wrote/thought:)
PAIN . . . DREADING TO FALL ASLEEP, postponing it, I don’t want to face my dreams ... pain ... I just want to numb myself and forget ... pain ... I know I won’t remember the dreams next day but I know they will exhaust me, those dreams ... pain ... my dreams have been populated by other people’s stories ... pain ... stories I’m re-listening (again) and trying to write ... pain ... yes, coherently of course ... pain ... but in my dreams (daydreams included) they get wildly mixed with each other and my own stories ... pain ... in my dreams I can recognize it’s time to wake up because the pain will slowly start creeping in ... pain ... time to wake up ... morning pain ... heavier body, another day ahead, what level of pain awaits me today? Slowly checking my joints, yes, they’re still stiff ... pain ... time to get up ... and don’t forget to breathe ... I sit, I do the usual wandering online with the laptop ... pain ... time to change, switch position, stretch ... pain eases ... start writing, and write some more, keep it up ...pain ... look up for this or that event, look up for this or that date, maybe there are photographs online, or a news article?... pain ... time to get up ... pain ... imagine it written already (but it never looks as I imagined!), stretch, stretch, stretch ... pain ... don’t forget to breathe ... sit down, keep writing ... pain ... continue writing ... pain ... I wonder how they are doing? Drop an email ... pain ... as if communicating with them about their present lives would make it easier to write about them ... pain ... maybe if I find them online, we can chat ... pain ... maybe if I only knew they are alright, writing about their painful stories would be ok ... pain ... get up, stretch, switch to something else, and don’t forget to breathe ... Pain ... get out, run some errands, get back, sit down, write some more ... pain ... get up, listen to recorded conversations from years ago ... pain ... switch positions, stretch ... pain ... get back to writing ... pain ... breathe ... pain ... drink some, smoke some, watch some ... pain ... don’t forget to breathe ... pain ... keep going ... pain ... time to go to bed ... pain ...
(Next to Jan, whose silent writing and thoughts in this community she was new to, went thus: ) PICTURES ON MY CEILING Same cuckoo, different nest I ask myself as always, “What am I doing here?” Feel no different than the very first time I came/ Cuckoo in the nest /whistle’s not from me don’t belong here/not among people I don’t really know/people who don’t 49 know me /why should they? Why should I? gate crashing their open space I want it to be mine too/ don’t want to let go of attachments to places and spaces of my past how sad! My slant on life/ the lifelong student trying to please the academic mother and mathematicians and scientists In a family who don’t get my position – the one I have slowly sunken into by default? More like secret desire /my need to find a space in an academic field that entices me /a field of study that/ when I learn and know enough about it, will become a place where I can write about the ‘stuff’ contained within all the unread pages, sitting in bookshelves and in piles around my own house now/ retrieved from a person you know, as I do more even, who once used this open space/ told me about it/ said I could belong/ she said my ‘stuff’ as I called it would fit in/ hundreds of books full of my automatic writing poured out with no conscious thought, pictures and computer-generated collages, all my stuff that cluttered up her home until she was gone, as it cluttered mine/ precious, as she called it? I think not/ it was my ‘stuff’ This cuckoo needs a new nest for a while; will I find it here, in this open space? is this a space that is not open to me yet, a place for a cuckoo? lying on my back again! Watching pictures on my ceiling Watching images fast forward in the process she taught me as they pass me by. How dare I lose my reality in this place here, in a space for discussion that has silenced me?
How dare I slip into to automatic mode with words spilling out of me because of some unexpected connection and feelings of strong resonation? I thought I came here to listen about someone else’s piles of stuff documenting their life lived. I won’t read my words/ I don’t know what they say/ On automatic mode/ Will I walk soon? Will I get out of bed? Can they see my pictures flashing across the ceiling as I do? Can they see my invisible illnesses? Do they know what is wrong with me? I expect not. Still cannot connect as the cuckoo in a new uncomfortable nest. Might fly away soon/ Might not/ Might stay and write the automatic stuff that pours off the pen and fills up the books that chronicle life not always well spent/ Get lost in the process/ Won’t speak. Not my time yet Cuckoo can’t whistle/ Can’t trill the right tune It’s lost in the pictures/ Pictures on my ceiling The ones I see when I’m in bed. Will I move away from the pictures that fast forward across my ceiling? Pictures that now pile up on the floor beside me in every space alongside my bed among all those handwritten journals she took and stored for me. When I can face the ‘me’ residing in all those little black handwritten words between the pages, will I be able to write my story like these people do? In the new-found process that I came here to learn about. A title in an email seduced me into coming back to a place I feel I don’t quite fit. I’m hoping to hear about someone else’s stuff piling up around their rooms, the recorded words and pictures that hold the story of their life, hoping to gain knowledge of a process that appeals to me. I’ll sit in this stolen world, on the outside. I’ll lose myself in the writing as I always do/ dissociate from my surroundings quite easily. I have been here before/ An outsider whose life unravels upon a ceiling/ Whose feet can no longer touch the floor Do they see me? Do they know my hidden story?
Do they know I am a cuckoo in their nest? Excitement! Excitement of the creative possibility/ Holding my breath Waiting. Waiting to hear about a methodology/ A way of documenting my untold story. No not here/ Not now. These people don’t know me. This space might not be the space for me to be/ I don’t know yet. No one wants to talk about the papers, the stories, the drawings and stuff that piles up around me/ Waiting Waiting for what? Another book I dare not submit when I’ve written so many. A way to document an ordinary life lived The title seduced me. Brought me here. The poetry of life/ My life. If anyone wants to hear me/ Silenced by the thought Silenced with many frozen words on the tip of my tongue/ Frozen, speechless/ Why did I come here? Why do I want to connect with this process? With these people who don’t know me? Cuckoo in the nest. What am I doing here in this open space when there is no green to be seen? Not my usual open space/ This is not my safe place. No, not the place I run to when my legs are able to carry me. When they do work in the way I want them to work When I can get out of bed to turn off the pictures on my ceiling. When my feet can touch the ground.
(Whereupon Jelena, who was born in the “blocks” in Serbia, but has moved to the United Kingdom to study, erupted into:) I am in constant Two minds two writings Two languages or more.
That is My ‘NORMAL’ Mode. That is How I write. Yes, I need To practice Better writing Attention to Detail more English words, letting go in The flow. Details. Yes. No. I don’t know. IT’S LIKE A SHADOW BETWEEN/ OVER/AROUND. IN PLACES. SHADOW. SENKA. (shadow) SPIDER. OCTOPUS. LIGNJA. (squid).
Writing right now is Life right now gray Sweater Chair Some sort of linoleum flour Gray as the blocks are gray. Grey. Sivi
right now I am next to Bethany boo and Sarah
Нисам заборавилаЋирилицу колико јеОна заборавиламене.Превише опште?У сенкама. Сређујем торб the train ticket to Brighton on 22/02/2014 (auto-ethnography conference) receipt from the shop in the blocks which is called the ‘shop of goodwill’ (circled)
the train ticket from Brighton on 22/02/2014 Busplus public transport ticket from Belgrade Wessex adult single ticket
54 Wessex Adult single ticket
weighing writer. Now I am: STUDENT WRITER SURVIVOR LOVER FRIEND (the only way is messy way… making sense is messy.)
(whereas Lynn, who lives down the road from Jane, opposite the same stretch of Bristol parkland, said:) BACK IN THE OPEN SPACE SESSION . . . LATE AND WE ARE SPEAKING OF THE PARK For a while, I grin foolishly at the pleasure and warmth of being with this group of people once again/ My window on the park shows Sarah walking past with Rubi and mums with buggies pushing boldly up the hill to Jane’s corner/Jane’s corner; funny that, the local name for Jane’s corner is ‘ketamine corner’ on account of the amount of dealing that’s done on warm sunny days when the park is like a festival, alive with bongos, the dahl seller busily doing business and people relieving themselves in the hedge/the next day there is a riot of litter/ ‘Guess what!’ said Claire from No 14. ‘Just seen the first sign of spring—a sofa dragged into the park’ The ketamine will surely follow/ mobile phones, their faces reflected in the light of the screen; that one pouring out through the biro roller something strong and coherent Jane says: ‘That’s half an hour’ and there is a gentle sough-ing sound, a sigh, a relinquishing the texters take no notice, they’re fellow travellers — and I’m
back in the gray world I assume is ‘normalcy’—opinions…
(And Peggy reflected on how she came to be part of this community of scholars on this day:) HOW DO
WRITE about this small corner of Monday third March unique unrepeatable unexpected The word that Repeats And repeats Is how How is always the big big question... How did I become The I that sits Here in this place with these people That I Might sometime Meet again But we would All be different As the colours And shapes In the magically
Where Only The Trees Have Some Semblance of Solid Stable Reality
(whereas Artemi answers visual knowing with her own personal tree of visual knowledge)
9 The flowers read from right to left. I enjoyed translating my friend’s book
(and following on from I enjoy) plus writing a few Words of my own. I am in the middle of an email argument With my sisters (following on from I am). I am increasingly more travelling to Athens to help my mother. I love spending time with family and with friends. I must send the new report to the publishers. (Also, following on from this work-related must) I must plan the workshops for parents ... (and also from the same must) make sure the new project gets off to a good start. I still have lots of unfinished writing projects. I try to get fit and make time to walk, jog or swim. I am enjoying hearing Jane talking about her new book. I enjoy singing in two choirs
The ‘vase’ is made up of What is this space which holds all these fragments And inside it: FRAGMENTS OF MY LIFE And all this standing on HERE AND NOW.
(And Prue, who had travelled down on the train from London, especially for this session said:) IF YOU WERE USING WRITING TO REFLECT ON THE FORM OF YOUR LIFE NOW, HOW WOULD IT BE? Disjointed conversation in my head – my head separate from the rest of this inhabited space, now trying to bring in some “framing” of the here and now: this group of people in this space, this darkening evening (I am hot . . .) Our feelings in this space The evidence of us choosing to be here this evening. Quite a few people in a cramped space; are we together? We’re all separately writing. I can only see different people in various poses of concentration, not what they are thinking. We are generally calm and harmonious, safe, and feel we are doing something worthwhile. Generally quiet, though the projector fan blows above, and I can hear Jane’s hits on the alphabet on her iPhone screen. Suspending an agenda, like and disliked. I’m not at all anxious in this moment about having to produce something; I’m aware
of the like and dislike, but turn back to what just being in this room means. I realize I know nothing ‘of’ or ‘about’ these other human beings, the more I can just concentrate on being here, I feel my heart opening. The temptation is strong to speculate, to make up stories, to try and portray some ideas embodied in someone in the room, to notice contrasts —
(And Jane finishes the session in Room 407, writing in
58 response to these responses, offering you, our
eavesdropping readers, an opportunity to respond to this call for poetic fragments:) MUTTERINGS IN THE CORNERS/ CLANKING/ DIGITAL WHIRRING/ who are all these people?/ I don’t know their names and they now know an awful lot about me/ this gives me a strange anonymity/ It has gone dark outside/ are the foxes out I wonder?/ what is the relationship she asks, between the drawings and the writing/ hard staring and hard listening/ the trees at first evoked the drawings and then the residual traces that you did not find in the park during the day – but the drawings are not just illustrations they are texts in their own right.
10 We scatter these fragments like scraps of old postcards and throw them into the westerly winds that blow around the top
floor windows of the Education building in Bristol. As Pullman (2003) would tell us, ‘All these tattered old bits and pieces have a history and a meaning. A group of them together can seem like traces’ (p. i). They present ‘multiplicitous thresholds’/one short extract from one woman’s fragmented text about her everyday life, leads us in the course of a couple of hours spent together in Room 407, through multiple diffractions across the everyday lives of her colleagues, and now leads you in reading this, towards and through multiple simultaneous diffractions/ directions of your own.
Chapter two. Making Meaning of Life-Changing Events. Margaret Page, with Laurinda Brown, Marion Donaldson, Janice Filer, Marian Liebmann, Marina Malthouse, Katrina Plumb, Artemi Sakellariadis, Jane Speedy and Andrew Walls. A small stroke at the end of a hiking holiday in Turkey, a decision to retire from my job as a university faculty member. How to make sense of these two events, each of which have an air of unreality? Since the stroke I have been driven to write. To find out ‘who am I now?’. Was I a recovering small stroke survivor on my way back to work with the help of medication? You would be crazy to give up your job said the doctor, no reason for this at all, you will soon be back to normal. Or was I a 65-plus-year-old overdue retiree, seeking to reinvent herself? Was I an aspiring artist; a creative writer; an adventurer traveller? The narrative I chose would, I felt, determine my course of action, and was determining responses from friends, former colleagues, and family. Which narrative would choose me? I could not decide. I was pulled between the desire to let go and the desire to hold on to projects that now had lost their shine. Could this be a narrative inquiry? I had kept a notebook to track my health issues, and soon found myself weaving a number of different narratives about my situation. This led me to question what I was doing – had I ‘retired’ or chosen to withdraw? For health reasons or from a desire to make a change? I soon found myself regularly journaling, drawing and painting. I joined a creative writing course, where I was introduced to Julia Cameron’s ‘Artists Way’. I began to follow her workbook for people in mid-life searching for a new direction (Cameron, 2016). As an academic, schooled in action inquiry, I had for years encouraged students to ‘live their lives as inquiry’ in order to do research (Marshall, 1999). Now it made sense for me to turn to inquiry to help me make a new life after leaving full-time employment. The ANI-Net (artful narrative inquiry network) at Bristol University’s School of Education offered a space that was both academic and not. I had already taken part in collaborative inquiry events organised by its founder, Jane Speedy, and members Ann Rippin and Sue Porter. At these
experiential events members and visiting speakers introduced artful and performative methodologies. Through collaborative autoethnographic writing we explored and illumined social dilemmas (see for example Davies and Speedy, 2012; Rippin and Porter, 2012; Page and Speedy, 2012). ANI-Net now seemed to offer a perfect space to nurture an inquiry into life changes with members of a network where collaborative, autoethnographic writing was an established culture and practice. When opportunity arose, I offered to facilitate a session for the ANi-Net network on the theme of ‘How to make meaning of a Significant Event?’ This led to a sequence of three sessions over a period of a year. In what follows I tell my story of how the collaborative inquiry evolved, and then reflect on the process and methodology. At each of the inquiry sessions I introduced a modified version of the collaborative inquiry processes introduced in Sue Porter and Ann Rippin’s workshop, and Ani-net ‘open space’ events (the introduction to part one and chapter one, above): • A reading of an extract from my own writing on the workshop theme; • An invitation to write individually for 10 minutes from memories, thoughts, feelings evoked while listening to the reading; • An invitation to pair up, read out loud and listen in turn to each other’s writing, without question or comment; • An invitation to write again, from what was evoked by the reading and listening; • A round of reading to the whole group. ANI-net Open Space 1 ‘Making meaning of a life-changing event’ Dear All, This is a space to discover how we make meaning of significant life changes. We may explore the impact of a single event or a series of events that have led us to changes in our sense of self in relation to others, of who we are, of how we are perceived and perceive others, what motivates us, what is important, or no longer important, what we desire - or no longer desire to be or to do. I am interested to explore subtle processes of shift and change that may be embodied, and revisited, in the
aftermath of such an event, or events, and how we make meaning of them. The changes I am living relate to my decision to retire from my academic post, following collapse at the end of a hiking holiday, later diagnosed as a stroke. Did I retire because I could no longer manage the institutional demands and pace? Because I was ill? Because I was too old? Because I was bored and ready for a change? This narrative mattered to me because it carried implications for the future. But this narrative is still 65 revealing itself, in conversation with others, and with my body. Please come prepared to write, to read your writing, to listen, and to write again. We will aim to build up a collage of experiences of life changes and of the shifting meanings that we, and others, attribute to them. If there is interest, and potential, I am hoping to form a writing group to explore this further. This invitation was circulated to members of ANI-net. Members include faculty members, research students and graduates and interested local community members. The session was small – there were five or six of us. I was nervous and read a piece I had written, and read, in a creative writing class the week before. An extended holiday in Marmaris It is the last day of our women’s walking holiday off the coast of the Aegean. We have breakfasted on the East Meets West, a converted fishing boat or ‘gulet’, where we have spent the week sailing up the coast towards Greece, stopping off for hikes and swims. We are now moored in Marmaris. We are on deck, sitting round the breakfast table, but I have little appetite for the spread of olives, tomatoes, omelette, crusty bread and jam that I have previously enjoyed. Sitting is painful, I slipped and fell on the marble floor in the hammam the previous day and I am still sore and a little shaky. I am ready to go home and my companions are engaged in end of holiday talk, preparing for the bus ride to the airport. Without warning, an extreme pain grips my temples, as if a vice were clamped around them. I instinctively drop
my head between my knees. This eases the pain, but nausea surges. I’m about to vomit; I just get to the side of the boat in time. Then I’m somehow back in my seat, head down. I glimpse the startled faces of the others, ready to disembark and begin the journey to the airport. I can’t raise my head without the pain clenching its grip again.
One of the women offers me her medication for headaches. I don't take it. A member of the crew offers the same. I don't take it but wait for the pain to ease. It doesn't so I find a way of propping myself up on cushions on deck, the cushions that days earlier we had been lounging on after one of our hikes. Right now I can do no more than hold on. Keep my head down. I tell A, the walks leader, I am waiting for it to lift, to get back to normal. Then A’s husband says ‘she must go to hospital’. I’m admitted to casualty, all white sheets and whirring machines. I’m wired up, stickers on my chest, different coloured wires pegged to ankles, feet and wrists. They tell me my heart rate is dangerously low, and I am to be admitted to cardiology. I feel relieved to be taken care of. The headache has gone - for the moment. As I read, I was aware of how shocking my story sounded. It was as if I was writing about somebody else, someone else’s drama, an adventure that I could enjoy in the telling. I had told this story many times to different audiences. Yet it was as if only through the reading of it aloud, in the context of this collaborative inquiry, and hearing the response of others in their writing that it became mine, and I began to inhabit the experience. In reading it in this context, emotion welled up into my voice from a place from where I thought it had faded. Participants wrote and read in pairs, wrote again and then read to the whole group. What was striking was that my reading evoked memories and writings of equal drama and personal significance, but in totally different contexts. Each was in some sense a turning point, to be made sense of later: a first meeting with a person who would become a future life partner; victimisation at work, that led to a decision to leave; receiving a diagnosis that a partner’s illness was life threatening. My invitation to identify ‘research questions’ that emerged from the readings did not elicit a response and seemed irrelevant. There had been deep sharing of life-changing events and this
seemed to be complete. At the same time there was eagerness to continue, and to develop a seam of writing on the wider theme of making meaning of a significant – rather than a lifechanging event. On this basis we continued our inquiry at an open space session six months later. ANI-net open space 2 ( 6 months later) The next Open Space took place at the end of the university autumn term. This session was advertised throughout ANI-Net and 15 attended, including several Master’s students new to the network, alongside the older faculty and former postgraduate students who were more used to collaborative inquiry methodologies. This lent an intergenerational and intercultural dimension to the group inquiry, which was remarked on in discussion at the end of the event. Most had not attended the previous sessions. I decided at this reading to move away from the stroke event and into current writing. This was hard. In comparison, my current writing was without drama and felt insignificant. I recognised that there was something about the drama of the story of the stroke and subsequent hospital stay that I had enjoyed narrating. It was as if this drama lent legitimacy to the story telling, with qualities to grab attention and to shock. In contrast, it was difficult to select an extract to share from the considerable volume of journaling I had been doing. This writing was a narrative of the day to day, often without any defined plot, or commotion. In the event, the piece I chose to read was not the one I had planned in advance; it felt best to go with what captured a sense of the moment, even though this felt less significant. It turned out that this sense of insignificance was the very issue I was struggling with and needed to articulate.
My reading Smoke drifts I thought a cloud of birds Distant murmuration of starlings Letting go of paid work As an organising focus Retirement is an artful process
How does one find purpose? I wake up lost Frequently, often Envy those driven people Compelled to Paint draw write play music As necessary to them as breathing.
Make do With momentary purpose Snatches of conversation On WhatsApp, or Skype meaning found in moments of reflection on the past lily pads on moving streams tethered, rooted, mobile. Retirement is fragmentary moments of interaction strung together in a diary. Retirement is the struggle to make coherence out of activities strange and unfamiliar. Retirement is allowing leisure to become ‘work’ from background to foreground. Retirement is sitting here in pyjamas writing with no expectation or purpose beyond a sneaking aspiration one day to publish. Retirement is living with an undertow of panic what am I doing what will I do now with whom why?
So why not write about perspective? How in my art class I learned of vanishing points of line and tone A darker line brings the object forward A lighter line pulls back A darker tone pulls back A lighter tone pulls forward How can both be true? Yet sure enough a moment of magic when from my pencil emerged a shape a cylinder with volume placed in space A flash of wonder when I saw this and just as my students cut and paste to create an image of the world they recognized as theirs could I not draw myself into being just as I am writing a new self into being now?
Co-inquirers’ readings Laurinda Letting go – letting things come to you Being bored Life-changing events; auto-ethnographic writing – of interest to others? Action inquiry – holding an intent. Why do we need questions? Painting, drawing, walking, making jigsaws. Going back to bed. Sleeping . Letting what to do come to me. Being in the moment. I take my driven, obsessed writing self with me – so the task for me now is to be a writing self but not driven and obsessed perhaps? Is it possible to write without a deadline? Is it possible to write whilst enjoying the
journey? Is it possible to not only write but have a structure to it all? I have a resistance to structure that’s been part of me for a long time now. Distractions are useful sometimes, at others, avoiding the experience of being bored to let passions emerge (Phillips, 1993). I have a resistance to having a question – it’s not the way I write academic papers, so why would this be any different?
Jane The end of paid work/ Not the end/ Of being driven/ obsessed/ I have replaced the university wage slave/ with a woman/ obsessed with making art/ I wake up and consider/ what I must do/ what I must make today/ obsessed with colour/ texture/ form/ I have left paid work/ but have taken my obsessed and driven self with me/ Laurinda and I have parallel lives/ parallel stories/ Not for us this time spent doing nothing/ meditating/ lazing in the sun/ Now we invent our own deadlines/ no other pipers or systems to call the tune/ women who always got things done continue to get things done/ Being in the sun eludes us ... getting old is not a life changing event/ it is a state of play that has been creeping up on us since we were born/ the deadline we all have/ all need, perhaps, but don’t want/ Andrew Behind the eyes today is still the little boy That ran round the well with snot on his lip and a voice that shrilled, just far too loud. He ate for England, not much now. He used to laugh, much less now. As his elder, one November, he gave me all his Rollos! We were on the sofa, tv blaring, eyes alive with sugar
and so small and silly it seems on paper, there isn't any other gesture that meant so much. A chocolate smudge. The skin around his eyes is different now, more worn, more weathered, the world has had its way with some of him it seems. His smile today is clouded, fleeting losing momentum as soon as it’s born. No weight of words or hugs will help now it seems. Or maybe not. It does hurt to see the petals drop, a brittle one from a weighty sunflower. Catching wind and whisked away.
Every week another friend. Every year another trend. Text messages I never send. Compliments I never told. I still remember him as a soft-rolling ball of boy. My brother. Easy. But now the window’s not as clear. And whispers creep into my ear. I hate to think of the look that spreads across my face when I say hello these days. A distance felt, but nothing spoken. Guilt and pain are then awoken. Our bond is away among the flux. The yellows, reds and sugar from the hot days spent outside seem frozen now - relentless change is tough to swallow... Katrina Where I Am If it were a moment of resistance it could be a fine thing. Chronic disease is not. I am neither trying to please the experts nor dwell in fear. A pittance of trust in their system. No remittance from the symptoms of their treatment. I freeze in a double bind, neither the big cheese
authority asked me to be – askance I look to the skies above – not some dupe who believes they understand their practice. They comprehend their theory that is informed by a database, in a loop of terminal circular reference diurnal acts can no longer make sense. Marina
Retiring from medicine In July 2015, I changed the direction of my life, from a 33-year career in medicine, to...to what? Well, I had nothing planned! But this was a purposeful act. Two days later, my annual General Medical Council registration fee was due. I went onto the website and read that I had two options – pay £650 to continue with my full registration as before, or pay £100 as a retainer fee. Choosing the latter meant that I would relinquish my license to practice. Finding it difficult to make such an on-the-spot decision, I read the small print, which informed me that I would no longer be able to sign prescriptions or sign death certificates. I never even knew this detail! Having signed my name on countless prescriptions and countless death certificates (particularly as I’d worked in palliative care for the last 20 years), I felt comfortable choosing the retainer fee – full, satisfied, replete. Over the last couple of years, I’ve had so many new experiences that have filled my time since stopping work. I’ve continued to see familiar faces and have met many new ones. During this time, on hearing my situation as retired from my career in medicine, I’ve had various responses from several of these people. Somewhat surprisingly, I’ve found that it is their responses and how I have reacted to these responses that have shaped and moulded who I am now. ‘So what exactly are you doing with yourself now?’Thanks for asking but I’m not going to justify my existence by announcing a formulated list of future plans. ‘Retired? You look far too young to have retired!’
- What on earth does that mean? OK, I’ve stopped working as a medic. Might this be a better way to describe my new position in life? ‘Dealing with all that death in your work. I’m not surprised you’ve chosen to retire.’ - I loved my job actually, and could have looked after dying patients forever. ‘I assumed you’d burnt out.’- Oh did you? I feel it would have been fairer or even kinder if you’d asked me about my decision to stop work. I dislike people making assumptions about me.
‘What are your plans for today?’ or ‘What have you done today?’ - Can the way I spend my time not – working only be understood from a list made up of the tasks I’ve achieved that day? ‘You’ve had NHS training. I haven’t, so be patient with me.’ Hmmm, you’ve given me something to think about here. These questions and statements have come my way in one form or another and they have made me think. Each time I’ve responded, my answer has had a slight variation from the last. I’ve reflected on these and in time, I began to realise how they have helped to modify my identity or who I am, as Marina, who has now stopped working as a doctor. Marian Making Meaning from Fragmentary Activities I like this phrase – How do we make meaning or Meaning? Supervising a young social worker at a hospice, She said, ‘What is the meaning of it all, when we die, And some so soon, my age even.’ Why are some things meaningful and others Empty of all meaning? Is it about enjoyment or fun or feeling alive?
Is it about having others to relate to? Retirement is hard work because We have to weave the fabric, find the pattern, The warp and weft In which the fragmentary activities can Find a home and be part of something Larger than themselves.
There was a sense of deep sharing in the session that came from each in turn reading our writing out loud to each other without question or comment. Then a sense of wonder and surprise at the variety of contexts and depth of experiences shared through this process. Participants remarked upon the variety of writing styles, some poetic, some brief sentences, from those used to working in this free-associative way and from those for whom it was countercultural, unused to sharing personal experience in an academic context, or at all, but who nevertheless did share emotion related to loss through illness of close friends or family members. A web of connection was created, based not on similarity of experience but difference, deeply felt empathy made possible by speaking each in our own unique voice. Participants noticed potential for intergenerational, intersectional and intercultural dialogue for which the ground was created through this process. The space offered an opportunity to reject and to voice refusal of assumptions placed on one in the context of a life-changing event. As one of us observed: ‘It is important to avoid having assumptions placed on one. To become a “stroke survivor” could turn you into a victim – similarly “diabetic”. It is as though people expect my identity to change just because of some label they have given me. Although it may be significant to them, to me it’s just a category’. We decided to continue with a broader line of inquiry into life-changing events at other life stages, and Jane followed up with an invitation to put a chapter together from our writings for this volume on collaborative inquiry. ANI-Net open space 3. Twelve months after session 2. This time I read out the same writing as for session 2. This was a different and smaller group of six participants, three of whom had been present at earlier sessions. A year had elapsed since
the previous session. Participants shared their writings from each of two cycles of writing, often expressing contrasting feelings: Co-inquirers’ readings Katrina A poem about the desire to interpret symptoms Space created itself: Internal disruption; Clank crescendo. Inner director expects forming one’s own sense of purpose. Something inhabits the space Not expectation Not motivation Nothing I have ever identified with and begins to clank. External expectations on hold Does this percussion signify old age? And the space has its meteors too. They Hitler the living space death camp some cells.
Why so different now? Watching emotion rising in the reader as I listen to her experience of retirement, unexpectedly draws me into another aspect of my own experience. Brought on by being in this moment of listening to each other’s writing, suddenly I hit something in my subconscious that is bothersome to my body. Eighteen months down the line of a new chapter in my life I suddenly feel loss of a lifetime working for a system that once held me in the safety of its structure and routines. Letting go. My pace. Not driven by an organisation that is well past its sell-by date. An organisation that held so many debilitating expectations of me. Yet why the guilt tonight when I connect with someone else's tears in an open space for
the creative exploration of self? What happened to my previous self-assured positivity about giving up my lifelong work and all that accompanying paper stuff? What happened to me in that moment of deep connectivity to each other as we reflected openly about our lifechanging experiences? Artemi
First cycle of writing I turn on my laptop to write, with Margaret’s words echoing in my mind. The possibility of drowning in nothingness... The image of retirement I had in my mind gets shaken to its core. The jolly anticipation of peaceful timelessness, each day an empty canvas to create fun on, with no set tasks robbing my choice of Wants with my choice of Musts. And now it seems possible that without the interjection of Musts all the Wants can end up joining forces and creating a huge lacuna in which one can drown?!? All my life I have longed for the peaceful moments to dwell in nothingness, however temporary, and have regularly found that any let-up from the Musts is overshadowed by thoughts about future Musts, or silent reflections on Musts that have been ticked off the perpetual list.
Second cycle of writing So here is to the new definition of retirement for the twenty-first century. It is a label worn with pride, full of possibilities for what is yet to come, not defined by reflections of what was. Begone images of idle little women, whiling away their hours volunteering in charity shops or knitting for the grandchildren. (In my case that’s done and dusted anyway, I’ve already knitted for the children and the children have volunteered in the charity shops so we can cross that off too.) At a time when retirement may well be as long as employment had been, and when what we occupy ourselves with can be anything under the stars, how come anyone can expect the word ‘retirement’ to convey one’s occupation in a way that the single word ‘employment’ never could? I suggest ‘retirement’ is consigned to describing what we do at the end of each day (when I
expect most people retire to bed) and we look for more imaginative ways to refer to the more imaginative things we bring into our lives day after day...
Marion First cycle of writing Hello, hello...I’m over here...I’m over here. Do I exist any more? I feel lost but not fearfully so. There is a frisson of excitement at the altered possibilities. Hello, hello....I’m still here. The same person I was yesterday, except I am not sure if I still exist, can you see me without my status, my job title, my ID card? Can you see me? Can you see me with my new label?
In my mind’s eye I see a maelstrom, a huge swirling mass of bodies spinning towards a huge drain, a black hole. People spinning towards it in ever-decreasing circles until poof...all gone. The skills, the knowledge, the energy, all gone. I refuse to use the word retirement. I’m still here. I haven’t gone anywhere. I’m still me. Nothing happened overnight. Now is my time. My time to do things for me. My time to do new things. Things that energise me. With freedom from work I realise that this is what my life has been building up to. This is where I can put all of that experience and knowledge, doing things for me. Hello, hello. I’m here. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere unless it suits me. This is not the end. It is just the beginning. This time I’m doing it my way.
Second cycle of writing It is not a sea of endless time It is not a warm, sleepy bath It is not cosy It is not constant coupledom It is not quiet It is not Monday mornings doing your bit in a charity shop It is not anonymity It is not becoming the member of an anonymous tribe, heading for the final cliff face
It is not a social perception It is not what others might want it to be It is not defined by them
It can be naughty It can be noisy It can be stroppy It can be colourful It can be liberating It can be liberated It can be argumentative It can be reflective It can be useful and sharing It can be supportive It can be revolutionary It can be re-written, redefined It can be...whatever we want it to be It should be respected It should be the best time It should be individual – defined by each of us in our own way It should be fun It should be OUR TIME. After reflections This chapter is a collage of writing fragments, provoked and written in response to an initial reading on the theme of ‘making meaning of a significant event’. The collage is framed within a narrative that is mine alone. Yet it is deeply collaborative in the sense that the narrative, and the writings, emerged from a collective space to which we each contributed. Each piece contributes to a complex picture, real or imagined, of what it is like to give up or lose a loved one, health, or employment. The writings tap into a pool of lived experience and offer rich material to explore further. In writing the chapter, I have seen more clearly how my approach to inquiry shifted through the collaborative process of these sessions. Schooled in participative action research (Reason and Bradbury, 2001), I had imagined a cyclical inquiry process in which we would collectively draw out inquiry questions from our writings as a focus for subsequent sessions.
This did not happen. In the limited time available, within each session I discovered that it was enough to dwell in the power and resonance of the writing that had emerged and was read aloud in the moment. I noticed significant shifts between sessions in how I was able to hold the space through my reading. It took time to inhabit the words I had written, embodied in voice tone and pace of reading, and to create a quality of holding that participants experienced as empowering. The invitation to write from thoughts, memories and feelings evoked by readings seemed to prompt and enable a free associative leap, into embodied remembered experience. There was a mirroring in the tone and themes of our writings, while the subject matter was individual and context specific. There was no felt need to attempt to arrive at a shared analysis of themes. Rather, this would seem to move away from the embodied experience in the context of a collaborative process. In the words of a participant after the event:
‘It is as though ‘making meaning of Significant Events’ necessarily involves making sense, where sense is the point: not an abstract rationalisation, but the interweaving of different internal sensory experiences, followed by using a group as a sounding board’. The depth and quality of engagement with the collaborative inquiry processes in these sessions was unusual. It was facilitated by the culture and history of collaborative inquiry that was well established in the research network. While sessions included students and individuals new to the process, it was this history, and commitment to the principles of collaborative, arts-based inquiry embedded in established practice that lent meaning to the process and enabled our engagement with them (Speedy and Wyatt, 2014). The inquiry process that evolved with participants in these three workshops seemed to have taken on a life of its own. I had introduced the first session as a form of action inquiry, designed to surface and engage with specific inquiry questions (Marshall, 1999). Then, in the context of a network schooled in artful collaborative writing – described by Jane as a ‘mash-up’ of collaborative inquiry/collective biography and a/r/tography’, the need for predefined intent beyond the process seemed to fall
away. In letting go of inquiry questions I had arrived at a different place, a collaborative practice to support life beyond externally defined purpose.
Part two Inviting Other Scholars Into Our Space.
Introduction to part two. Melissa Dunlop and Margaret Page.
ANI-net holds a regular open space in which scholars from across a range of disciplines, and anyone interested in their work, are invited to share research findings and methodological developments. The community then explores and works with ideas coming from those outside the network by writing or art making together in response. For the individual working with collaborative research processes, themes of voice, place and space are multilayered. In this section we present two different methodological approaches for exploring these themes: the work of Tami Spry, a leading practitioner of performance authoethnography, and that of Doreen Massey, a human geographer whose work uses Marxist, feminist and cultural approaches to engage with understandings of space and place. Tami Spry has been a frequent guest of the Network, and an important source of academic support for the Centre. Spry’s ‘performance autoethnography’ moves autoethnographic practice from writing into an embodied performance, in which both writer/performer and audience are active participants in the research process. Her performances challenge researchers to address the absent ‘other’ in narratives of the self (Spry, 2016). The authors of ‘Riffing off Tami: Tami Spry’s Performative Call and Our Collaborative Response’ describe how they drew from Spry’s methodology to ‘perform’ their collaborative inquiry into space for the individual within collaborative research. Doreen Massey’s work (alongside that of other human geographers such as Rebecca Solnit and Tim Ingold) helped the network to engage with conceptions of place, space and other (human and otherwise) emotional geographies pertaining to their collaborative work. Particularly significant was Massey’s expression of how space is not a static entity but intertwined with time (Massey, 2005), which speaks to the idea of making space, that is, opening up the inquiry space, as an essential practice of the community. At the time that the group convened to write about her, Doreen Massey had very recently died and her loss was keenly felt by many in the room.
Both Spry and Massey’s ways of thinking felt important to the community in considering, developing, and expanding its collaborative practices and thus, chapters on each of them are included in this volume. In their different ways, these two chapters may also be understood as inquiries into relationality within collaborative spaces – the intersubjective tensions between individual desires to maintain distinctive personhood, and to join in a process of collective becoming. We have each chosen to introduce this section because we are engaged with these themes in our practice within and outside the academy. As a psychotherapist, Melissa is drawn to ideas of relational space-making and performativity, and to the collaborative writing process itself, as representative of the dialogic improvisation, performed and contained within a space-time, which is fundamental to her working practice. Margaret has taken part in workshops with visiting scholars hosted by ANI-net (see for example Page and Speedy 2013). Inspired by these experiences, she facilitated a collaborative inquiry with ANI-net members into experiences of retiring from full-time employment. In Part two of this volume she describes how collaborative writing expanded and enriched the scope of her auto-ethnographic inquiry (see Part two of this collection).
This introduction has been written through dialogue between Melissa and Margaret. In the writing above, our voices are tightly intertwined, merged even, so that it would be hard to distinguish one of us from the other. From this point forward, we are leaving our separate parts exposed so that you, the reader, may have the opportunity to perceive some of the tensions between individual and co-authored voices. Our aim is to voice our thoughts as we each engage with the texts, and in this way to invite you, the reader, to give space to memories, thoughts, and feelings evoked as you read these chapters, concerned as they are with sharing – giving, receiving, allowing - space. We hope our expressions of call and response will enable you to engage more fully with the chapters by putting you in the frame of mind to notice whatever thoughts, memories, and feelings the act of reading provokes and evokes in you. Here are Margaret and I, two distinct individuals who have
volunteered to see what happens when we two write – separately for now – this one thing. Personally, I wanted to be a writer of this introduction because it is in my mind how hard it is to truly make space for others, to step aside from one’s own desire, hear what is needed elsewhere, and allow oneself to move with, be moved by, another.
And here am I, Margaret, remembering that working with performance authoethnography has sometimes evoked powerful memories and unexpected emotions, not always what I was ready to expose to others in collaborative spaces. How to help the reader into a space created by the authors of the chapters to follow? Oh, this is already more interesting than I meant it to be! I am instantly aware of how affectively charged this process could be for Margaret and fear I have already exposed, stepped on toes so that some pain that was being kept out – out away – away from this space - has entered in. Thoughts are safer. My curiosity. It lands me in too deep sometimes. I don’t mean it to but here you see how easily it can be done. Yes, and rereading this, after we have met and discussed our exchange of emails, I am rather taken aback by the strength of my response … Already the embodied feelings have receded and I am back again, comfortable sharing my thoughts. The chapter ‘All Tangled Up with Doreen Massey in Room 407’ is an exploration of space, and of belonging. In it distinct and individual voices interweave their narratives of remembered physical and social spaces, exploring the distinctive relational qualities of each physical space through story. A narrator tells us that it is as if participants move through space, writing our selves and our lives into and out of our meetings together in room 407... After I wrote this I thought about how memory fills the places I visit. As I walk on The Downs here in Bristol my mind is filled with the memory of being with others with whom I have walked in this place. Places become ‘peopled memory-filled spaces’. I might make a map of peopled spaces I inhabit - the nodal points of our intersecting lives. When I first arrived in Bristol I thought to myself, the air here is thin, I have no memories to fill
it. I have not yet created meaning in my being here - no sense of home or of homing-yet. Yes. I mean no. I am still not sure about Bristol. Memories made on the Downs always tentative… mine can only ever be false nostalgia because I am (still) not ‘from’ this place … ‘it’s like being on holidays’ somebody said when I first made to stay here, and had visitors curious from the world beyond. And I feel it like that – like a place outside reality that is also part of reality. A holiday that never ended - now post-strange. Would getting over it be a good or bad idea? How many of us have this experience of being new somewhere… of time passing… and asking the question: am I yet at home? Or, where is that place called belonging? Or, how long does it take to feel meaning? Or, what does it take to be knowing? Or known? Should I drop anchor here or in the next place? Or should it have been the last place? Or should I never have set sail?
My fear is that the more we reach for others’ experience, the greater the danger that we will fill their image with our own imagination. The more closely we feel we relate, the more likely it is that we hear nothing at all of them - only those parts of ourselves they unwittingly bring us into contact with. Yet, when voices come side by side, recollections equally weighted, it becomes possible to see the real resonances – echoes of truth perhaps – of what passed between participants of that meeting in room 407, as they tried to make space for Doreen. It is hard to give space – perhaps impossible – but a worthy aim. I like the idea of voices side by side, resonating. Let them stay side by side, without pretension or ambition to entwine with me, I say! We do not yet have the shared memories to make this space meaningful for me. How can I enter it? what might entice me and invite me in? The stories inspired by Doreen are layered, evocative of subjective and intersubjective lived experience. In them, physical space becomes multi-layered, psychosocial, atemporal. The stories are connected through associations, each evoked by the other. The article ends on a note that gathers the associations up as if pausing for breath within an evolving emergent inquiry, ‘the space of … belonging, for instance … how is such a thing made? How can we know space?’
I wonder how to make this clearer, to offer experience of space-making that may help make sense of what is to come in this section?
Is it not enough to let the reader be, in their response, without attempting to make sense for them, in advance? In reading the paper, or this introduction, what will resonate for you, the reader, will be different to what resonates for Melissa, or for me. And different each time we read. Is giving space in the listening, or in the responding? I read ‘All Tangled Up…’ more easily than ‘Riffing off Tami Spry’. Melissa and I discussed why this might be and noticed the contrasts: the ‘…Tangled Up…’ stories lie paradoxically tidily alongside each other, the voices distinct, while the voices in ‘Riffing…’ are in fact entangled, jumbled up. I read their detailed description of how they did collaborative inquiry through performance with a sense of suspended impatience. The co-authors seemed to invite the reader in to look in, on an intimate family interaction, a scenario created through collaborative bodywork. What had this process to do with me, an outsider to the group of co-authors? After struggling with this insider/outsider feeling, it was a relief to have distinctive voices to engage with, inspired by Doreen Massey. As a reader of the Riff, I felt, too, Margaret’s feeling of being outside, trying to distinguish unknown bodies, none of them mine ... I want to be in there, feeling the breathing bodysculpt, finding my space within its alternating form. I prefer to be on the outside! There it is again-a sense of impatience – inside feels claustrophobic – false intimacy! I want to assure you, the reader, that it is ok to take a position on the edge – to be an outsider looking in, with a sense of suspended curiosity! You might, for example, write down what resonates for you in reading this … express doubts! Move back and forth, in and out of engagement with the text … And I am all riled up like there’s an argument happening, though it’s only a difference of … position … yet, I feel a need to fix something … to agree with Margaret’s call for your right to maintain your space … even if that means not ever knowing what you think or feel. I want to make it good between us even if that means I lose something – a sense of connection with
you … or myself. My curiosity round – or desire for – a sense of inclusion with the work prompts me to want to include myself and you, yet sparks in Margaret that need for distance – her own space, cool and clear and free of false intimacy! But, why is it false? Outside-inside: sometimes the membrane feels like glass … a surface we can look through, or paint upon or touch, but never penetrate lest it shatters. Staying separate, in one’s own space then … has its merits. The separation of the voices in ‘… tangled up …’ seems to allow some easier sense of growing intimacy than the merging flow of ‘Riffing …’. I hesitate to agree with Margaret in case that is too much for her … violates her need for us to hold our different positions … some threat of fusion. In any case, I disagree, or I think that’s what I am doing.
Saved by expressions of doubt and irritation in the ‘Riff..’, I read on. I noticed that there seemed to be pivotal moments, in which different voices moved in and out of collaborative authorship. Questions emerged – how to find a place in a collective body sculpture? The strains and stresses of holding a space. At what points do the ‘I’ and the ‘me’ dissolve in the merged body of self sculpts? How does stepping out of the picture, observing the place taken up in relation to others in the sculpt, frame ‘one’s thoughts’ about relationality between self and other? Jane once said to me that Sue once said to her that they needed to look out for me. She didn’t know me very well but she must have seen something when she looked in my direction. I don’t know what. Perhaps she recognised something – or thought she did. Perhaps she did. To find out afterward that I had been thought of, caring words spoken about me by a woman I barely knew… made me realise that I had been there, somewhere I felt myself outside of. A me-shaped space had been created, even though I did not know it. Or how to be part. What did she see? We leave traces of our presence even when we feel we are absent? Was that you Margaret? Yes, there’s my surprise, because I sometimes struggle to imagine myself being held in mind by others. I can so easily slip away it seems … or be let slip. Not as solid as I seem on the surface … Perhaps that underlies my desire to make contact – to join the body sculpture and in that
way be certain of my own embodiment. And to let you know that I am paying attention to what you say, feel even, though I probably shouldn’t mention it.
The ‘Riffing …’ chapter engages with Spry’s challenge to move out of a binary focus on either self or other, into an experience that evokes the relational in performative authoethnography. My response as a reader moving from reluctance towards positive engagement – seemed mirrored in the writings of the individual authors. There are moments of ‘hope’ lodged in the embodied collective, and moments of doubt and exasperation. This moving back and forth held my attention. Inside-outside. We (if I may, Margaret) perhaps embody (and equally, disembody) this oscillation, some constant of alternating positions. It seems we reach in different directions – or perhaps we reach the same way only see the thing differently. How slow is slow? How fast is false? Yes, fake makes me claustrophobic too. But what is ever real if we don’t, at some point, decide to trust in something, someone or somewhere? Or our own eyes and their reflection maybe … It has come to me as a slow dawning realisation that I am needed about as much as I feel a need to be – here. The space … or was it Jane … or Sue … called me to fill it in my own way. I felt both gifted by others and compelled from within to step up to the task. We made space for one another … and now I am here, part of this book … trying to make space for you. Mid way through the Spry chapter there is a shift of tone when the writing moves into reflection on the ‘work’ of the process as research methodology: creating a holding space within which an ethics of practice can emerge. ‘It’s all about the body’, and claims are made for this collaborative embodied practice concerning generating new knowledge, writing process, educational process and the ethics of education. But this is not a closure. Doubt explodes again at the end of the article, and re-engages me as an admittedly outcome-focused reader. How can we hold to the value of these processes as players within the outcome focused academy? Making space requires flexibility. And so does taking space. It means not sticking to the plan, or swapping plans with one another part way through. It means not holding on too tightly
to whatever originally drove the impulse to begin. And I have begun to revel in the joy of the unexpected, which is what others bring when we listen to them without being too invested in expectation of what we need to hear. This speaks to me now! It’s so hard to hold open to the unexpected when under pressure to complete a task, within a time frame. Wanting to get this done, I just want to get this done! I want a plan to stick to! Yet, as I write into this text I am finding myself slowly drawn in, word by word, I am almost ready to come into this space …
In ‘Riffing …’ the group make bodily contact with one another – but I can’t touch you. They leave a space for each one who leaves the formation, holding space open so that the absent one may return. Can we leave each other space? I wonder if you can stay open as you observe – allow the writing to move you and in so doing, move with? You perform the part of reader, needed for the writers to perform … even though we dance together out of time – I wrote these words long before you came to read them, but they were always for you. I feel a need to look out for you. So I have made a space for you in my imagination, and in doing so, I make space for myself. This is a great place to end our introduction! I feel I have entered this space now – in writing from ambivalence, through this dialogue, and now there is space for each of us – you, me, the readers that will follow.
Chapter three. Riffing off Tami: Tami Spry’s Performative Call and Our Collaborative Response. Joanne Barber, Ken Gale, Luci Gorell Barnes, Chara Lo, Viv Martin, Jelena Nolan Miljevic, Sue Porter, Bubukee Pyrsou, Jane Reece, Ann Rippin, Artemi Sakellariadis, Jane Speedy, Tami Spry, Peggy Styles and Jonathan Wyatt.
92 The paper has been produced by fifteen scholars from North
America, Europe and Asia who gathered together at NIC for a collaborative writing workshop following a performance/ workshop exploring performative auto-ethnography, which had been conducted the previous day by Tami Spry. This account was created through cycles of image sculpting/ talking/writing/ reading aloud/ talking and planning together - all informed by a process of ‘riffing’ off Tami’s and each other’s work, using collaborative writing as our means of inquiring into and out of Tami’s performance/workshop. There were various interconnecting networks of people and places represented in our small gathering, some of us had written together at workshops, on projects of joint interest, and for publication. We were experienced writers, but this group had not yet attempted real-time collaborative writing for publication. Spectral traces of other collaborative writing communities that had been part of, or connected to our research centre could be glimpsed, silently accompanying us, from the shadowy corners of the room (see: Speedy et al., 2010; Speedy et al., 2012, Gale et al., 2012, 2013; Wyatt et al., 2011, Speedy and Wyatt, 2014). Our writing, set down here in the order it occurred, serves as a ‘response’ to the ‘call’ of Tami Spry’s performance/workshop, which was: Our autoethnographic work thus far has richly developed and critiqued the subjective "I" in qualitative research. However, autoethnographic research has yet to study how the Other is represented in autoethnographic writing, sometimes resulting in Others being used as a supporting role in service of the storied
"I" rather than engaged as an entity with agency. What if our autoethnographic writing focused on Barad's and Haraway's effects of difference in human engagement rather than viewing self and other as different entities which, even in its most critically reflexive, continues the binary comparison between Self and Other? Performative auto-ethnography seems a deft methodology for charting the effects of our differences within the entanglement of self/other/language/ culture. Further, how might articulating the effects of difference in performative autoethnography assist in articulating a utopian 93 performative of being which is open to continued change and pedagogy? As Jill Dolan (Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theatre) suggests, "Any fixed, static image or structure would be much too finite and exclusionary for the soaring sense of hope, possibility, and desire that imbues utopian performatives" (8). Let's engage a ‘critical modality of hope’ (Munoz) using movement and writing in performative autoethnography that articulates the possible utopian effects of our differences. I will do a short performative autoethnography that might move us into these ideas and writing. Having spent the previous day engaging in a performative autoethnography workshop exploring these ideas, our group gave a further ‘doubled’ response to Tami’s call through collaborative writing, whereby a small group (15) of us met together again and started our day constructing an image sculpt embodying our response to the idea of writing at that moment. This sculpt we stepped into, one at a time, and then out of, in order to look at the whole, then we photographed our sculpt from all angles: 13
We talked together, briefly, about the sculpt, which we all then sat and wrote our way into and out of. We then read our writing out loud to each other, circling around the room anti-clockwise. Here is what we wrote, in the order in which we first heard it: Confusion on people’s faces incites bossiness on my part. Inveterate facilitator /helicopter tactics kick in. Is this a personal congenital disorder
94 that no amount of neurological damage can stamp out? I have an overview, but there are many multiple views.
I don't have to ‘hold the reins’. I'll lean on Sue. I've lent on Sue a lot this last three years. Oops! Now I'm giggling and I think I'm dribbling on her, that's taking ‘riffing off Tami's Gram’ a stage too far. Drooling down Sue's lovely shirt. Too much information, and too many cooks at the beginning Of this workshop. Still our intentions are kindly and respectful of each other. Ann is going to explode if she does not get to write. I am giggling uncontrollably. I must not have a choking fit, that'll scare people. Hell, it'll scare me, or maybe set Tami off too, and we'll spend the rest of this workshop in ‘Accident and Emergency’. The sculpt is a crystallising; a coming together; an act of intimacy. At one point I thought that Sue was going to run Jonathan over– a bit of a ‘Quentin Tarantino’ beginning to our day. **************** Talking-writing-reading-talking-reading-writing. Making a move! I spin into the space, and take a pose. Reaching down for my left leg, my forgotten leg, the leg that is forgetting, forgetting how to lift, to pivot, to feel (other than to feel irritable). I clutch my leg, echoing the lifting of legs yesterday in the sculpting, the echoes of concrete socks. Still feeling a little shocked at taking the floor so decisively I wait, and feel other’s hands touching, first my back and then
my chair. ‘It’s ok to lean on me, just for once,’ I say. And people do, they lean and grasp, clinging like barnacles to the extended me that is my wheelchair. Bodies accumulate at my feet and to both sides of me. Without looking I get a sense of growing people-mounds branching off from this point, and when I later look at the photos on Tami’s phone I see whole links of people spinning off from our starting, curling in group. ’Look at what's happening here, there’s some great, connecting going on here’, I look down and the poetry of linking limbs curves away to my left, the bent backs and arching shoulders speaking the strains in the connecting. Risk takers have stretched their bodies to touch, reach, point, all in the moment. The generosity of spontaneity speaking our connection without thought for sustaining it. Some of us groan, giggle, suck in breath as sustaining becomes suffering.
Members leave one at a time to view, and we perform their absence for them, filling their spaces with our attention until we can take them back into the whole. Later, looking at the photos as the mound disperses I see the curling, curving, the elaborate connecting together. A shared straining and paining? An effort written in our bodies. **************** I have a wonky ticker, a heart that beats irregularly. You know, atrial fibrillation or a-fib as they call it in the TV ads for medications such as Xarelto. I take a medication that slows my racing heart to a normal beat which is fine most times. But when I climb the hilly streets of Bristol strange things happen. I’m staying near the top of St. Michael’s Hill near the hospital. It’s a very steep, cobblestoned hill and I have found all the rest benches on my way up it. Because my heart beat will not increase, my pace slows to a near halt until I rest it out. Seated on a bench yesterday, a very stoned young man asked for money. I gave him some to go away. Do I look vulnerable like prey on this bench? A second man, fortyish and athletic, was striding uphill and asked me if he could carry my heavy bag. It
startled me – odd request in England. Was he a good Samaritan or hitting on me? At my age, he probably saw a nondescript, cardigan-wearing woman who reminded him of his mother. ****************
Connecting and disconnecting Entangling and disentangling Leaning, resting A process of reconnecting becomes one of gradual extrication Bodies, minds interwoven slowly withdraw peace comes upon me writing myself into silence and solitude rest and restoration *************** Random thoughts on body sculptures and connections How rarely we connect with one another simply as human beings - we are islands of sound and silence even in familiar environments. Why is touching each other so 'verboten' in a people who pride ourselves on being free? BUT HERE AND NOW WE CAN BE WHO WE REALLY ARE WELL ALMOST NEARLY BUT NOT QUITE... and I can hear a bird singing in the Square **************** Bodies. Sitting, standing, lying, scrunching, stretching, touching, leaning, spooning, relaxing, tensing, connecting, sculpting. Forming. Togethering. Keeping still and holding position whilst one at a time stepping outside the assemblage
and looking. Then returning. Resuming. Freezing. Holding. Sustaining. And then the moment is over, the bodies begin reversing, dismantling the assemblage, each moving in its own direction, finding a space, occupying it, writing. Together. Alone. I look around me and wonder what histories these bodies carry with them. What was each of these bodies doing this morning? What would our body assemblage look like if we were to bring into it our most recent memories? Who was reading this morning? Who was writing, typing, drawing? Who was making love and who was thinking about making love? Who was taking their clothes off and who was putting them on? Who was out walking, jogging, running? How would all of this, if visible, have made our sculpture at 10:30 on this Tuesday morning in room 3.13 different?
**************** Slight hysteria bubbling, clasping Ann’s hand; her other hand to her brow in a characteristic, feigning ‘Oh my head…’ pose. But touched, too, at the real connection between us, ‘though I am not one for spooning or closed, embracing, clutches. I like the presence of bodies but love the singularity of my own. I like best the space between us.’ **************** I cannot ask a man to be an abattoir, I do not have the mind to conceive a way to shape the human body into an abattoir without strafing bullets and land mines and razor wire. I have no way of visualising or externalising such industrialised slaughter in one fragile human body. It will not do, and I cannot do it. And then again, it is such an interior thing, such a nested thing in me for all these long, painful years that I don’t think it is for external consumption. With the best will in the world, even the most sensitive pro-feminist, right-minded, feeling good in his skin man cannot ever understand the abattoir in me. He could understand the economics and logistics and industrial processes of death, but not the feeling of your own hormones as agents of death, monthly, yearly, regularly, irregularly,
ceaselessly doling out death and blood. This is a dyad between it and me, not him and me.
I find myself one radiant summer morning on the Piero della Francesca trail in Italy. His Risen Christ in San Sepolcro blasts me almost as the blast of energy shot the lid off that tomb. I am transfixed. It is one of my few aura moments. Looking at that fresco makes me question why I don’t believe. That which seemed logical a minute before now seems illogical. The resurrected Christ, plaster white, radiates through pigment on chalk, eyeballs me. It is too much. I creep away. Earlier the same day, I queue through makeshift tarpaulin tents, white in the blazing Tuscan heat. I queue with Italian women, snaking round the information panels and the bulletins on the construction work, silently sweating from the trapped heat, to see the masterpiece, this time in oil, The Madonna del Parto. The famous altarpiece of the Virgin Mary, great with child in her fifteenth-century maternity dress, unlaced at the sides, her hand resting lightly on our Saviour, big in her belly, smiling vaguely down at us. And as I stand there, I feel the blood between my legs. So copious and viscous that I can slide around on it. I can feel the blood like I can feel a well-oiled cake tin. I can, I swear, smell the salt and the metal and the strange bloodness of blood. There is so much of it. The small, personal abattoir is at it again. **************** Sue moved in voluntarily, in her wheelchair. People started to pile up on the base she made on her chair. It was always a start point – something solid that you could rely on. Here I meant the solid material chair, and Sue’s will and power to start and to move the chair. After a few people started to do the body-linking,
I spotted the place by the wheel of the chair, a very solid but movable thing, that I felt like leaning on, and I moved to it quickly before anyone else might do. I sat on the floor leaning my entire back on the wheel, holding my two arms and two legs towards myself. And I lifted my head, looking up to the sky. What I’d liked to describe myself as, was that I was only an ‘auditor’ in this writing group. I didn’t feel like making too much effort in the process of ‘producing knowledge’. Instead, I was intending to wait for the production of the knowledge created through the writing process, dropping on me from above. When others kept on making efforts to connect to each other and to hold their bodies to form the sculpture, I felt a bit guilty. But I could just tell myself again, at heart I’m only an ‘auditor’.
**************** I am on the floor, letting myself touch Jonathan, his back on my chest, or my chest on his back. My arm reaches towards Sue’s chair; it ached after holding it there for a while. Yesterday Ken talked about how tense he’d felt trying to reach out of the window whilst keeping another part of himself anchored to the ground. My feet grow out of the chalk. I know this because when I walk back down the church path l leave a map of white footprints. The Marsh brothers who do the graves round here have dug the hole, and they will fill it in once we have all driven away, back up the hill to the village. Her wicker coffin was covered in flowers. It looked like an oversized picnic basket. We stood round the grave edge and looked in. The next day, back at home my mind returned to her
white chalk grave, lowering her into light. I grew up on chalk. I am made of chalk. I ate plants and animals reared on the North Downs. Chalk was in the water, and with every glass of lemon barley I drank, I took in a little more. I drew with chalk on the lane outside our house; drawings coming from my chalky fingertips. It is over three years ago, and her picnic basket will have melted away to fragments of straw. The chalk that made her bones will have taken them back. At home, I get into my car; white 100 footprints in the foot well. I am older now, but my bones will not crumble. They were fashioned from the chalk downs, and they are strong. ***************** Bodies just come out of everywhere really, and at a pivotal attempt of association they broke their classroom in bits. Chairs pushed, desired, handled, tables against the wall and the smooth space in the middle, violently serene, occupied an artificial stillness. Like LEGO pieces intersected by blood flows and giggles, it contained a small piece of matters that mattered. Breasts hanging, legs protruding, faces reading what was to be written. In an exquisite tidal assembly-line the focussed LEGOs piece by piece tormented each other in an uninterrupted motionlessness that was soon to be broken. Yet eager to congregate, matter with its own precarious rules and limits contrasted with a picture that was to be examined by a set of eyes each time. --------------SMALL bang … a missing piece … you would assume the convergence would break, but the rest of the pieces, re-imagined and re-positioned themselves in the exact manner, as if the missing piece never left. Some circles tend to call that a piece of negative space. My idea of it was that the carpet was providing a joke for our pains, literal and metaphorical ones. It introduced the pain in space and delivered it into its rightful position. The remnants of an art-piece that withdrew, or suspended, its allegiance to the individual. Yet the stories that were performed had no indication in the slightest of the effortful manner in which they displayed self and other. Another pause to affirm the gaze and in a split second
the architectural imposition of blood/ bones/ mechanical zones broken down into its constitutive elements, by an entropy that was reminiscent of a small bang . One of those that announced the beginning not of life, but of writing… **************** Let’s create the sculpture she said. Everyone joins in And in their joining Space for me emerges I step 101 in join in as well and: It is my place your place in this space Everyone has a spot Unique their own their own Place to space out Riff off. When you learn to live with fucked up hat It is hard to take it off It becomes your place my place in this space Spot you stand on And stand off. I keep standing. Bend my head down: I know how to do crisis. Survival. Shit. (my place my place in this space) I’m good at it. I rock at it. You should see me … … ah you should have seen me during the war organizing kids from neighbourhood in a shelter playing games Making a space for that time-place for laughter. Anyway – as I said – good at it. Bastard child. My hat of fucked-up. Crazy weird cuckoo fucked-up hat & Postmodern Fashion Sense (thank you Bubukee and Luci). I step out of the sculpture and look: Our place our place in this space:
People of writing persuasion People of creative kindness People of unusual abilities and genders and races and politics People of at least three continents and names which sell books and articles People of multicoloured fucked-up hats In a frozen parade of knowledge Embodied. Our space my space in this place Bending over collaborative effort I take my fucked-up hat off
and put it back on.
I come back to my place in sculpture and voila!
Music! Parade starts! And all the jugglers And all cheerleaders And all the smugglers And acrobats and clowns and abilities and kindnesses and multicolours Jump and scream and shush and do and hope and pour out and spit out and drop (very carefully) Their writing in Their spot unique just their own our my our place to space out And riff off. **************** I curl at Sue’s feet Embracing her My belly at her footrests – Her feet – Left arm outstretched, Fingers touching Sue’s left side – the hub of a wheel I sense another’s body Lucy curling at my back
I sense her forearm on my side but it is wishful thinking Peggy reaches down to touch A crutch in hand Ken crouches at my feet and grasps an ankle Other bodies arrive and surround and fold A mess of matter A mélange of flesh, clothing, metal and plastic Breath, sweat, scent, touch and laughter An economy of hopes, meanings, yearnings, doubts and fractures
**************** It is the heat of bodies that is so generative Intensive multiplicities open up spaces … Bodies tensing, losing their extension in the melding of poses, in the intricacies of the sculpting. Sculpting clay as metaphor for the achingness of bodies of posing, of connecting, of drawing, of reaching out, of burrowing in. It is the never losing of sense, sense of self, that seems so viscerally potent in this process: it is the always gaining of a new sense of self in the acrobatics of the becoming pose that is so agentic in making the latent manifest, the manifest latent, the latent manifest, the manifest …? And then ‘I’ is gone; the concentration on the pose is a becoming of the new and, if only temporarily, a losing of the old. This newly configured body loses a self in the observed objective capturings of the camera and the strained physicality of the holding on that rinses out the predispositions of those troubling affects that were taken into the pose in the first place. For a moment that trembling, troubling of self that lives in grief, depression and sadness gives way to the labourings and concentrations of this sweating, physical emergence. And then it is gone …
104 14 We’ve just done an add-on sculpture of where we are in this process, at the beginning. But not beginning surely, as so many of us are assembled differently, and so numerously, with one another bodies doing and being other-wise of one another. The Image Theatre sculpture is as sculpture does, gives us a bit of a freeze frame of a moment, but surely not once again since the energy of our bodies is making split second connection after connection, and disconnection too. Jonathan lying on the floor, Ken holding his foot, Sue leaning over in her wheelchair, Jane’s cane hooked on Sue’s chair, all of the matter, all that matters, all of the matter of our bodies simultaneously pulling and pushing us into assemblages of our making and not. This and that, to and fro, static and moving. Our individually collective intentions clashing, embracing, colluding, cajoling, colliding into whatever this is that we are body-writing together. The sculpture moving, breathing pulsing as we are staying still, Tami (me) ordering us to hold our pose, be non-verbal, stay in focus and concentration. Who does she think she is anyway? What does she think her place is here amongst us? She did her bit yesterday, others want a chance to influence the process. Does she know she is influencing it? Does she care that others would like her to sod off? Getting all American and expecting attention to be paid. After quietly sitting together writing and then listening to each other reading our writing out loud, we broke off into chatter and clatter. It was suddenly lunchtime and we could hear tea/ coffee and large platters of ‘standard issue’ University of Bristol
sandwiches being delivered to the corridor outside our room. We brought the lunch in and placed the sandwiches under a sign saying ‘no food or drink to be consumed in the teaching rooms’ and our group broke up into smaller groups – some went shopping, some stayed to eat lunch, some took themselves and their laptops off into corners of the room, or elsewhere in the university, to talk to their nearest and dearest on skype, and yet others, the most digitally able amongst us, made a slide show out of the photos of our sculpt, to project onto one of the walls of our room. Some of us commented on how the images look as though they are still frames from some sort of action; a dance 105 perhaps, or even a brawl. After the break, we returned to our seats and after some discussion and dissent, re-read our first cycle of writing to each other. After listening again we wrote again, this time into and out of our own accumulated writing. This time we read our work out to each other going clockwise around the room. Here is what we wrote: We are here after lunch, and are reading all of the first round again. I think this is going to homogenize our engagement with the material. The second reading is a performance as well, but not as intentional as the first one. This isn’t going to work, it is going to dull the process. The here and now the liveness and
Oh. Ok, now we are hearing the readings, while the photos of the sculpture are appearing in round upon the screen. Oh, extraordinary. Something is happening to the photos they are ventriloquized, ventriliquied, voices diving in and out of them, in and out of the static, but not bodies on the screen. But something is wrong. We are sitting while the voices are moving. Something wrong, can’t identify it. And of course, that is my stuff, something wrong in me. No. That is not it either. It is not that there is something wrong. It is that something is emerging, a voice, a thing, a spirit, a way of being that keeps getting choked out, choked up choked off of me at the moment of beginning, at the bottom of breathing. ‘We perform their absence for them’, says Sue. Yes, what comfort that could be, what trust it requires to be the one who
is being performed while absent. Is that what I am doing? Performing until she, who is absent, is ready to speak? Ready to breathe? Will I choke her out with my own fear of who and what is always assembling in me/us/we? Can I get myself out of my way? Can I let my throat open? Can my gram help me? Help me Gram. I’m not sure who I am. I’m a ventriloquist to my own body.
***************** The new in the old, representing a fold? See the pictures, hear the stories, make bread out of crumbles, eat it and spit it … in words. Cremate the idea, give birth to another year, but stay focused on the text, oh dear this photo looks weird. Re-read the word written, that’s six sandwiches intercepted, the monument that presented what the breaking has not ended. Carry it through to another side, change perspective, address it, redress it, it’s not time to forget it. The rooftops were screaming that what’s here we are not bringing. Carry it through to another side, change perspective, a Rubik’s cube told me the secret of how to assemble it. Pretend you forgot it, a certainly passed park, in to the middle re-break it apart. Carry it through and sidestep it, the writing will blend it, will bend it, will melt it, and ferment it, but amongst the viscerally acidic nature of its, … the mail will not send it. A walkthrough looks back at us, like a map of a dark corner, devoid of sun but fully present in this moment. It’s the room that did it, a sunless small space, we met somehow else and we ended dis-embraced. Yet words will not tell it, are not there for that, instead like a port we’ll each sail on our stride. Behold of the statue that keeps us within, the assemblage of matter that attempts to sink in. Behold of the worry of ‘what does this mean’, and in relation to that I stay in the seam.
Yet nothing to hold it, Plenty to keep, A small evening treasure, That erased our in-between. **************** ‘And now we have to write into and out of that for fifteen minutes’. (Speedy, 2014: p.1) A question? A presumption? A suggestion? An order?
Who knows? Here goes… So much of the writing I have listened to talks of the foldings of connection, the sense of limbs winding around bodies, of the flow of bodies static in frozen moment, suggesting a capture of Old Master time. I can only wonder at the words and remember the aching in my limbs as I tried to hold the pose. And so as the memory diminishes, I am left with the presence of the stories, all of which somehow felt different in their repetition. Somehow, listening to those words again, this time left me limp, when last time they made me want to jump around, laugh and cry, and write some more words of my own, which I could then share, and keep the movement flowing in always new moments. And of course this sense is my sense: I make of those words what I will. So whilst I sense the performance of those words was somehow different, less immediate, less enthusiastic or nervous, I also felt that the repetition of my performance of a listening self was also different. I wasn’t being such a good listener, I was … I was distracted, I was listening to the wind through the open window, I was thinking about Phoebe, my daughter, I was feeling myself dancing barefoot with Joy in the imaginings of my naked soul. ****************
The photographs on a spool, close-up then distant, Five seconds there, five seconds gone A wheel, hands and arms, Gone, Denimed legs and stockinged feet, Gone, Blue and red and white, arms with bracelets, feet in sandals, Gone, 108 Hands on head, hands on heads, Gone, A pair of eyes peer upwards to a distant, misty land, Gone. We are pilgrims on a quest. We are worshipping an icon. We are revelling at a classroom carnival. We are travelling to ecstasy, Revealing our fragility even as we strive to escape it, Prevailing over nothing. **************** Time and time and time again The room is/ feels silent Every body writes/ its ... Listeners Persuasion. Once upon a time and time again We all emerged from a sculpture Co-constructed From the jungle of our roots [Writing roots. Teaching roots. Experience-roots. English. Asian. Greek. American. Canadian. Balkan Lived/ experience roots.] The jungle spreads and writes itself Into space Making decisions Bleeding Performing absence of others
Giggling, Self-conscious of the roots Very conscious of sky above And watering holes around As well. Time and time and time again Two days to submitting Week for commenting 15 minutes for writing and Time, again. Time to write and listen Feel the body forgetting the words Feel the jaw relaxing The pain subsiding The breath deepening
weaving threads of thoughts.
framing the silence
Really, Bubu: bodies, everywhere. The body our body of sculpture The branches of experience Of thoughts Feelings Smells Bones and no-bones Teeth and no-teeth Blood and no-blood Every ‘where?’ Every ‘body’ Writing Time and time and time again.
*************** It is suggested that we read again. I feel resistance. I don’t want to do that. I want to write more, or make what I have already written better. Polish it; make it beautiful. As people read, I write about Mum calling me Leaky Luci, when I was little, if I’d wet myself. I think this is a clever commentary because we just talked about leaks, adding on, adding into, and
if it was OK to do that – to leak. It gets closer to being my turn to read. I try to catch Bubu’s eye, hoping to incite a paired insurrection with him, but he is listening and looks – rather annoyingly – at peace with himself. I consider reading my Leaky Luci bit out loud instead of my other writing, but this is the first time I’ve met Jane and I am a bit scared of her. She looks like she doesn’t take prisoners. Then I hear a thought from Artemi that I missed the first time
110 she read, and as Ann tells us about her abattoir, I realize I’m
happy to hear it again. I want to hear it again. My bottom unclenches and my resistance dissolves. Sometimes it is good to be prodded in annoying ways. I read my piece again. **************** Can you make a portrait of an animal? Where the hell does that question come from? Can you, asks the philosopher-art historian, make a portrait of an animal? When does the drawing of your best heifer cease to be a figurative piece and become a portrait? When does that happen? And where does that happen? I am struck by the way that these great paintings have been coming into my mind. Yesterday it was all Caravaggio and La Tour and their stage-set chiaroscuro. This morning Piero della Francesca and his San Sepolcro and Monterchi altar pieces. And the sculpt this morning pushed me straight into grand galleries of the Louvre, and Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa. Why, in a workshop on body work and writing, does my mind fill up with fine art? What is going on? I stop. Take a deep breath. The Raft of the Medusa is an extraordinary painting of an extraordinary disaster. The survivors of a shipwreck in nineteenth-century, French territorial waters, in the heyday of DOMTOM colonialism, lived on a raft for what? a fortnight. They resorted to cannibalism. The gruesome accounts and the horror of those, ‘what would I have done?’ moments, made this a succès de scandale in Paris. Then Géricault, and what a great name Gér-i-cault, painted it, just at the moment, I believe when they first spot land. The sinews are taught, the effort is knotted into the muscles: survive.
It can tip easily into lazy comedy about drinking urine and eating cabin boys, but the sheer will to survive stretches and pulls the painting forward. Concentration is complete. Now, I could steer my own raft towards a point about the thunderous seas of academic publishing and our flimsy little collaborative raft, pitching like balsa wood in a mighty ocean. But it is the poses that strike me. We are knowing. Now freeze. And we do, in poses we would never adopt anywhere else, but we know from somewhere how to do it. From Géricault? From our culturally constructed image repertoire as Barthes puts it? We know how to strike a pose.
Which brings me back to Stubbs, away from Géricault’s salty horror and into the bracing fresh air of an English field. Those horses. They gleam from the paper and canvas, but they are not portraits because they are not complicit. You only get a portrait when the sitter knows they are being portrayed and colludes, strikes a pose. Portraits, paintings: performative acts. **************** (I didn’t read the first part of my writing, because it was in Chinese. Now I put it here along with its English translation.)
(Linking to bodies, triggers emotions, Infectious emotions burst more emotions, and deepen the linking – linking of hearts and cultures) Jane said to me, “As an auditor, you are stuck in.” Some made the description in words ending with –ing on the postures of the bodies. Some added on the flesh, the blood and even the sounds. The link of the bodies became the link of the affections
and there would not be an end. **************** Hearing the words again, they don’t sound so vibrant. They’ve been sandwiched between trays of Hawthorns’ food – all the plastic ham and white bread remaining. The words now sound so established, fixed even, but the slide show running distracts and changes them into a moving image once more. Some of those bodies contorted into shapes, 112 stretched out full, drawn up, close. Bits of head here, an arm there, hand here, eyes cast to the heavens. Limbs and joints and dead hair matter, formed into sentences connecting us in this room. That gust of wind shifted the energy, moving pens across the desk like glasses in a séance. And as magical and alchemical as when the words form on the screen, from the bodies that move from one to many in one and on that screen, each angle shows another take. No one knows what happened in the room in that movement, yet we all know that something did, a little. Like when the train grinds to a halt and doesn’t move, and doesn’t move, and then everyone sighs and looks out through the window, up and down the tracks. And it is then that the English start talking to each other. We work well in blitz situations. Then, we pull together, grow carrots, make coffee from dandelions, and bricks from old newspapers. We recycle and re-cycle, pedd(al)ling words slowly. **************** Bodies. Sculpting, performing, conforming, subverting. Together. Individually. Bringing all manner of personal histories to bear in the writing. Sharing, spreading and reaping personal congenital disorder. Bringing hidden personal abattoirs to light, leaving chalked footprints on the floors and on the walls. Hanging from the projector on the ceiling, pinching one's fucked up hat and wearing it, then popping it on someone else's head. Watching still life become a dance, then a brawl and an art piece. Wondering what the rules are, or if there are any. Engaged auditors of our own process, watching rules being made, enforced, occasionally negotiated, assumed, broken, or
assumed broken. Making up a puzzle of missing pieces. Implicated in the unfolding picture. Watching bodies blending, merging, welding themselves into one another and loving best the distance between them.
**************** This place, my space, your space BUT this is our space here and now, this minute fleeting yet life changing. how does change happen? and how do we recognise it when it has perhaps only in retrospect or thinking wakeful three o'clock in the morning thoughts when sleep eludes a weary body a body freeze famed in a moment when connections were made flesh and I became conscious of another heartbeat under my hand and another's breath on my hair.
We disentangle our bodies Make some kind of order from chaos with our words We write through our bodies and engage through words Though solitary we reconnect in dialogue interacting intertwining anew ephemeral and elusive process refusing to be pinned down by language ungraspable not fixed but forming formative space ****************
There is a place for me in this space. Leaning in or out, touching or not touching, reaching or retreating, connecting or disconnecting. In the space between – above or below ground. I can only imagine what they mean as I can only imagine what the heap of entangled students means in the park in Berkeley Square on this sunny day.
**************** Sculpture is as sculpture does I like best the space between us, as I lean back on the solid. Here, for one moment, I am just an auditor to our producing this knowledge. An economy of hopes, taking our places in this space, my place in our space. For a moment ... wishful thinking, is it a hub of a wheel?... and then it's gone. Stand still, without voice, taking advantage of a wonky ticker, listen, don’t speak. Listen, you can nearly, but not quite, you can nearly hear a bird singing of slaughter, a bird singing in Berkeley Square. Where we are lowering her into light, plaster white, smelling of salt and metal. We lean on her, giggling, looking into the picnic basket of her face for the Lego and the legs. Lost legs, blood, bones, anxiety. Damaged, depressed, a starting place here, our A&E: connecting to each other in the heat of aching bodies, burrowed in, ‘It’s gone.’ **************** The writing together brings us hope/ together / sums / parts/ forms / put together this can seem like traces/ our bodies winding dancing leaping / In the break we introduce ourselves to Barry / our identifiers oddly contrasting choices with our earlier connecting writing: “I am the Greek tranny”, he says (as if this is a statutory category for every group). Oh, now I have a flash of envy, one of those ‘I
wish I'd said that’ moments – you know – I wish that I'd said, “Hi Barry, I'm the crippled Lesbo” And then she says “I am the only Asian”… and faces me with my whiteness, and with the look she gave me yesterday when I said, in my best ‘Princess Anne’ voice: “we're British, dammit” – Insider jokes are only funny on the inside, I guess. I sit and wonder if Princess Anne tells ‘crippled Lesbo’ jokes, whilst behind me pictures of old masters in their blue period flash up on the wall. The winged Tami, in her dreadlocked cloud, 115 is missing from the painting. The supplicants and disciples surround the sainted Sue in her chariot/ the crowds have reached Mount Olympus and are spooning with each other at her feet. Shantih. Shantih. Shantih. **************** After this the room was filled to the rafters with our words and their echoes. We were accumulating a jumble of stories and meanings in all the corners, cupboards and crannies of the classroom. It was a hot, stuffy summer afternoon and we had been working together for two days without much of a break. We talked our way through a dissonance over what to do next. Should we attempt to articulate a collective critical stance to our writing, or should we simply 'put it out there' and let it speak for itself? If we are to offer today's writing to an audience, can we write about its value and place it on the map without reference to relevant work of others? And if we choose to do this, can we do so without recourse to our bookshelves? One implication was that there was an element of discomfort at how such an attempt might be inadequate, or might compromise our scholarly standing, another that some of us felt that we could not gain a critical stance in relation to our writing (above) without ‘thinking with theory’ (Jackson and Mazzei, 2014); without stepping out of writing in ‘real time’ together to consult with other writers who, although not now present in our group, had been walking this road alongside and ahead of us: consulting, thinking and ‘plugging in’ (ibid., 2014) to the works of post-structuralist, post-humanist and feminist theorists such as Deleuze and Guattari (1980), Butler (1990), Barad (2007) and Haraway (1988), or the work of others
engaged with collaborative writing as inquiry such as Davies and Gannon (2006), Jackson and Mazzei (2012), and Diversi and Moreira (2009) or yet others, such as Conquergood (2013), Madison (2005), Pollock (2005), Gingrich-Philbrook (2001), and Pelias (2004), working alongside Spry (2011) at the frontiers of performative auto-ethnography. We considered adding to this section later, but dismissed this as inconsistent with our agreed purpose of presenting collaborative writing in real time. In the end, and after those who had remained silent were encouraged to voice their concerns and were listened to, we arrived at a 116 consensus of opinion. This had been hotly contested territory, discussion continued around the room as to what we were really doing here and what we should include, or could ethically be included in a paper that purported to be written in ‘real time’. In the end it was agreed that our critical/reflective/ diffractive third cycle of writing together should not embed our writing its theoretical/contemporary academic context revolve around our answers to Ron Pelias’ (2004) question, ‘What work does it do?’ And here is what we wrote: This workshop brought me here in a group, working together in a way that I haven’t done for a long time. It feels like a homecoming and it feels supportive, familiar. The unstructured writing exercises that become something else through connected words, riffs, synchronised phrases, makes its own meaning. Collaborative work in this scholarly space to which I have belonged for a long time. In doing it I have missed the discipline of the other academic work I’ve been doing. It is also a re-turn to writing freely, without intent or purpose, responding to a moving performance of movement and words that brought out three subjects for writing that would not go away in the distillation process of Tami’s post-performance exercise. If it won’t go away then let it in, respect and write it. The re-turn began three weeks ago on a train journey between Chicago and Champaign. Following a landscape of stubbled field and small towns, I saw a man in overalls, crossing the rail tracks holding a brown paper bag. Containing what …? Lunch? Dinner? Medicine?
I project my view of life in the American mid-west onto the paper bag contents but for now that is not important. What matters is that this man crossing the tracks in his overalls made me pull out my notebook and write. Not for the academy, not to strengthen an argument, not to reiterate an important point so that the examiner really ‘gets it’ but because I wanted to respect what I had witnessed. And it continued back in Chicago at the French Vietnamese bakery where the shop owner short-changed me, insisting that I had given her five dollars not ten; where I watched a shaky woman on sticks drop her sticks, the black plastic bag she was carrying and wedged herself between two rubbish skips. The sun glistened silver on the river she made down the path before she reappeared, picked up her sticks and walked on.
This writing is to be continued. ***************** These days in this place with these people have re-connected me with those things I really value That is: a recognition of the need for an integrated view of wholeness. Wholeness in the sense that wisdom resides in every part of our bodies as well as in our brains that thinking and feeling are visceral and not abstract concepts for academics to categorise into hermetic theories alien to human experience. That spending time writing, talking and being
with a group of disparate but like-minded people is to be valued above rubies. ****************
What work does this do? I am really not sure Maybe it challenges the conventions of academic writing? I really don’t know I don’t know I am not sure if I know anything It’s the ‘so what’ question And I wonder ‘So what?’ Jane asks, ‘What is it doing for us in the place and space we’re in?’ The question which for me goes to the heart of what I’m doing here. Why us? Why here? Why now? Are we reclaiming space? Reminding the University of Bristol that narrative practices have not died discreetly withdrawn indiscreetly withdrawn? **************** What work does it do? It was for me the embodiment of embodiment. My body has been embodied today with an embodied understanding of embodiment. Embodiment has been embodied in me. It has gone from a cerebral notion of, yeah, we all have bodies (make sure that you get some reflexivity and embodiment in that essay!) - in the formulaic way in which a scrunched up academic writer might add salt and pepper and maybe a little
chili powder to a dish. It has given me permission to attend to what bodies are doing.
***************** The last two days, what was the point? you ask. Bluntly. Here we are community: for all our differences, our thinking aloud at odds to the proposal, our securities and our insecurities, we are Community.
Yet again I am reminded of what I know in my body, what I can evoke through my body, how it knows without the propositional ’me’ of my head being engaged. My body knows, and my body knows how to ask questions about that which it does not know. I can perform questions, and they may have resonance with others here. Together we can create a holding space for this to happen; permitting exposures and withholdings, without mouthstopping censure. I can engage with my damaged body, and lose my otherness, and keep my difference, we enact our diversity (we can all envy the Greek Tranny calling card). And from the body the words can flow, I can move into the feelings evoked in the movement, I can consider my responses to others’ observations. My body can speak the truth of my experience, and I can sidle up to others here with mirrors, trading reflections for insights. Here we do not jostle for attention. Mostly. In two short days we have learnt the etiquette of when to challenge and when to roll with power, and how to hold open temporary spaces of comradeship and permissiveness. Here there is an ethics of practice that moves beyond the usual scrum to publish, that holds us mindful of each other's needs, and vulnerability, and squeamishness, and says let's talk and try to find consensus, and maybe we will, maybe not - but what we owe each other is to talk.
**************** I walk down the corridor / I meet old colleagues:/ “hello what are you doing here?” ‘… oh is there something narrative going on?’/ I often meet these people (from our centre) here in this building/ but there is something about taking over the space-
120 not in the evenings when it is convenient for us/
there is a politics to being here for two days all day – the pirates are in the building during the festival of education/ I wanna shout: ‘we're here/we’re queer/get over it’ down the silent third floor corridor/ - is everybody dead on the third floor?/ were they always this monk-like in their behaviours?/ This has been a healing experience for me – we have been starved of oxygen for a couple of years and our brains have been clotted and scrambled/ but we can still come together and do this work and hear traces of our words and images refracted in the glowing afternoon light - we are shoved out at the end of the corridor/but boy can we stride and wheel our way down in. And my are we noisy – raising the roof off this modern-day cloister – this temple to data and sorting and putting us all in boxes/ we can strut the catwalks in our fucked off/ fucked up hats ... Singing and dancing and leaking our bodily fluids as we go/ this is no cyborg manifesto - we are … **************** And so it is about the body. It is always the body. The body in all ways material, the colour of its skin, the read of its gender, the movement of it, the size of it, the narratives put upon it by those in power and by those in our power. Writing about how and why this is a useful enterprise requires that I sit with Dwight
Conquergood, Augusto Boal, Soyini Madison, Della Pollock, Karan Barad, Elyse Pineau, Ron Pelias, and so many others whose writing and being I need to be in-body with to make claims about how and why what we have done here is valuable. Folks in performance studies would be interested in how collaborative writing ensues from Image Theatre. Folks who do/ study collaborative writing might be interested in how interactional body work effects and affects the writing process. Folks who do and study performative writing and autoethnography might be interested to see the genome of writing, how this body of writing in real time might demystify the 121 beginning processes of writing. And on and on into more epistemological potentialities. I need to engage the words of Conquergood and so many others body to body, I must move with them so we can craft a knowledge claim within the real time of long and considered reflection. Because I know in-body that what we are doing here with one another is deeply valuable pedagogically, politically, personally. And so I will sit, stand, and otherwise be with my sister and brother writers here knowing that meaning will be made. **************** (After Reed, 1942/2000) Here, today and yesterday, we have had naming of parts. The body’s parts, our bodies’ parts. The flesh, blood, ligaments, digits, cells, organs In their readiness and unreadiness, the bloodiness and bloodlessness Their use, abuse, misuse, uselessness Today, we have had the naming of parts. Today and yesterday we have had the framing of parts. Our writing comes in fragments of narratives as yet untold, The moments, the here-now-this-ness stolen from time’s Heavy beat and light, unnoticed touch. The writing has lifted off, riffed off, sniffed off the body’s shapes And shaped into folded, gripped, touched, rested gestures of text and forms Today we have had the framing of parts
Today and yesterday we have had the reclaiming of parts In the academy, in this academy, In cycles of moving and writing and reading and writing Talking and eating and walking and wheeling along corridors And lifts and stairs, past offices of professors and teaching fellows And readers, alone and empty and unknowing of the orgiastic Cataclysm of encountering that has been enacted and embodied 122 Today we have had the reclaiming of parts. Today and yesterday we have had the reclaiming of hearts The reclaiming of the land of Pelias and Richardson, of Deleuze and Spry, Butler and Speedy and all, Of all that this place and this work means, where body and mind, Pen and keyboard, fingers and wheels, and spooning and forking Are what we have and all that we have Today we have had the reclaiming of hearts. ****************** It has helped me to come to terms with the closeness of my body and the materiality of my circumstances to the writing I do and to my ability to write. I have sensed it bringing my body into play with my writing in ways that I have not been aware of before. The sculpting process, for example, brought me close to other people in the group: my senses felt heightened, my abilities shifted. I found the intimacy of physical space powerfully influential in freeing me from some of the discursively constructed orthodoxies and conventions that sometime restrictively play a profoundly intensive part in the enabling and disabling of my writing self. It has helped me to think about writing as part of an assemblage. It has shifted that sense of a becoming self that simply sits on a chair, at my laptop and that taps at those keys. A physicality in assemblage, yes, but somehow one that seems
substantively diminished when there is a sense of the presence of movement and the body of (an)other. It is about my sweat, my beating heart, my spontaneous and sometimes nervous laughter, the excitement of my presence in the entanglement of other that now seems to be so important in my engagement in creating space and in this with my inhabitation with other. So … it is also about the room, the smell of bodies, the rising heat of the lazy June sun and how my body feels in agentic relation with this and how writing easily flows 123 with the slippiness of my leaky pores. (I wrote more about appreciating being with others and about sharing writing with others and it doesn’t say anything more than what has been written hundreds of times before so I will leave this out) ***************** I was here teaching last week, it was certainly different in the sense that there was no edge in it, no collaborative essence but rather an automatic process of exchanging knowledge. So what has this day prompted again? That the question of where, and how the politics of knowledge sharing, and meaning making takes out of the equation, the affective dimension of knowledge. There is a qualitative difference of perceiving self and others as collaborators, or as empty vessels to be filled. Some sort of juxtaposition of a commoditised, compartmentalised education of the livestock with a living breathing educational process from and between life forms. Maybe a fake binary here, but in reflection even the idea of a false binary between the two is only, can only, be produced in the performative space, that allows a complex ethical relation between self and others to reveal itself in the making. In the doing. So what has been achieved? What has been articulated ? Not some sort of a novel ethic of education, but a way of putting ethics in education, not as an answer, but as a perpetual question that needs to be on-going. Personally (and that must be the joke-word of the day) speaking, feeling like one of the last zombies of a narrative centre that has been closed down, not in a bang but in a prolonged whisper, that the rest of the school prefers not to remember, letting it drift into the ocean. I find
myself happily afraid in a raft, not really knowing anymore where it is taking me. **************** We get so in our heads. Talking about will we move or not … and decide not to. I want to move. The room goes still and quiet. I itch, and feel
124 too bouncy to be in here. People are tired, and I am too, but it’s more effort to stop my body than it is to just move.
Everyone is sitting, writing. I am walking around, writing, but I am not in my body. I am just taking steps round a room. What pose would I take if we were all moving now? I am frustrated and want someone to play with. Tough. I play with myself, connect with myself, and ask myself what work did these two days do for me? It’s helped me, first of all, voice and then explore anchoring myself. Anchor my body to the physical world, not displacing myself, absenting myself from my self when I have uncomfortable feelings. Yesterday, above my waist my body felt electric and dangerous. Below it felt leaden; sandbagged to the ground. Writing and moving together-alone-together-alone helped me explore it, stay with it. Now I’m lying with my back on the ground and my feet up in the air. These two days have let me invert myself; know myself differently. I think of the Winnie the Pooh books and imagine joining wise Owl and bouncy Tigger to do collaborative writing in real time in the 100-acre wood. **************** I’m writing at, and from, a corner of the room where the writing group is taking place. The writing starts with a move of “image theatre”, followed by reflecting, writing, reading, re-reflecting, re-writing, re-reading. One’s self melts into others’ selves. Others’ feelings fuse into one’s feeling. I can hear my voice in others’ voices and other voices in mine. The small ‘i’ seems to be replaced with the big ‘I’ … seems to be.
What is it to me? To be honest, it is ‘not-me’! I’m poor; Thou art rich. I’m weak; Thou art strong. I’m pale; Thou art colourful. I’m quite; Thou art alive. Why am I so reluctant to disappear into the big ‘I’? ****************
Very reluctantly, I haul myself back onto the raft of the Medusa. I have found this so difficult. So much work to be done elsewhere: so much marking, so much arranging and managing and administering, so much energy draining out of me with a suicidal friend who, in the age of smart phones can constantly be with me although physically distance in space. And now you want me to fart about for two days striking poses and pretending to find it meaningful? I’m paid to think, not to be an acrobat or contortionist. If I’d wanted to play Twister with people I vaguely know I’d have taken a mat to a family party. This is not stuff for grown-ups. This is people trying desperately to recapture a sense of play and self-esteem. If we all say this is special and purposeful, then it will be. At this point, I should do a rhetorical volte face and say, Ah, but at 14.43 this afternoon, I suddenly had an epiphany and it all fell into place. Suddenly I saw my study and my soma as one. Suddenly I realised that I am not a brain in a jar but an organism among organisms and that my poor, vilified body had finally, after years of being shouted down, found its voice. Period pains, they told me, are feedback. Listen to your body and the pain will cease. But no. When Tami says, ‘I am the ventriloquist of my own body’ she is so right. If I throw my voice hard enough and far enough maybe no-one will notice the body that produced it. How do I find myself here? How do I find myself so enmeshed in the mind-body split that I really don’t want to touch other people in an academic space, a safe space? How did that happen? How did I end up at this particular party trying to kick the Twister mat surreptitiously out of sight, under the bed?
And why am I so outcome focussed? Why do I believe this stuff is only, if and only if, valuable if it leads to an outcome? A threestar-plus paper. Look what they done to my soul, ma. Can I reclaim an embodied me in two days? Can I begin not to give a shit about the Academy which has been my home for twenty years in two days? The spirit surely is willing but the flesh is weak. At the end of the day with Tami, after we had worked together
126 and shared our writing, we turned our attention back to the idea behind the workshop: to see if we could achieve a collaboratively written paper in real time. We discussed ways that we might do this, but there was a strong feeling of wanting to stay with the process rather than turn it into a product. As Jane had initiated the project there was an assumption in the room that she would transform it into a paper. One of the group who had considerable experience of academic publication and the amount of energy it consumed asked, ‘How are we going to support Jane in getting all this into a paper?’ There was little enthusiasm for exploring this, and so it was agreed to collate the writing into Dropbox, and there it remained for two months, until Jane called another meeting.
Four of us gathered to turn the draft into a paper by developing this final section which would outline why the writing and the experiment were significant. These were mainly people who had spent time previously thinking about the ethics and practice of collaborative writing, and who understood the ‘hidden’ work in collaborative writing, including meeting either digitally or faceto-face and reading and re-reading drafts. One of the first and most important points to emerge from that meeting, was that on re-reading what we had written, we were struck by just how much embodied writing it contained. Our normal practice of collaborative writing in this research centre/ group, while mindful of the body, is very often intellectual and dis-embodied, as we have been dealing with abstract concepts such as love, writing communities and the act of writing itself. The difference with this work was that the workshop which produced it emphasised the contribution of the body. Indeed, the workshop leader, Tami’s monograph is called Body, Paper, Stage and very definitely starts with body work and the embodied author. Her work also leads to performance: the
embodied performance of the text, and this provides a challenge in the written presentation of our real-time text which is that to experience it fully is to witness it as it is performed, something which is impossible in a retrospective written account. Our work replied to Tami’s invitation to perform in the here and now, but this makes it difficult to reproduce that process for a distant reader. As we reflected, we realised that we had moved into another stage of the embodied process: to sit in a room as a sub-group 127 of the authors and reflect on our experience. This again raises an ethical question about collaborative writing. Can a subgroup work on such a project? Does this mean that it is no longer producing collaborative work, but an edited and curated version of a work, with a similarly synoptic approach to drawing conclusions? Or do we move into a different kind of collaborative work in which there is shared or distributed leadership in which people step forward in turn in order to complete a task? Such a process is similar to the notion of fluid expertise described by Fletcher and Kaufer (2003, p. 32) in which any learning group tacitly agrees to share expertise in the moment, so that all members can be leaders or followers, experts or novices at any point in a learning group, in a similar way to parents learning from their children. We reflected on how this particular sub-group came to be in the room. It was not that we had more time than any other members, but we had a geographical proximity to and familiarity with each other and a particular sense of responsibility towards the project which came from our previous writing together. We did not want to let the whole down. We were committed to the project and to extending the ethics and practices of collaborative writing but we were also committed to each other. The notion of difference and similarity in writing groups was highlighted by the sub-group process. Two groups seemed to emerge from the original group when the question of finishing the work arose, one the people interested in process and writing as a method of inquiry, and the second career academics, perhaps, who were concerned about having an output from the process, either to share what we had learned from the process or as a result of neo-liberal regimes of audit and accountability which mean that they had to self-police into producing articles to account for their time. The latter approach runs the risk of destroying the joy in creating together. Tami, the
person who had led us into this highly embodied process, wanted recourse to what we came to call the ‘bookshelves’ before she was prepared to commit an article to paper. Possibly these kinds of concerns can be attributed to the onward march of positivism in the academy whereby we become insecure about our own lived expertise and knowledge and need to shore up what we say by referring to an extensive body of literature already published on the subject. The sub-group also raised questions about the ‘afterlife’
128 (Benjamin, 2008) of the article. The next stage in its
development would be to send the paper back to the whole group for approval/amendment and thence to submit it to a peer-reviewed journal. Again, this raises ethical choices and methodological issues. This writing was produced in-relationship out of a particular embodied experience. Is it then permeable to outside intervention? Exactly who is in-community with the writers? Does this include editors and reviewers, and what can they legitimately suggest to strengthen the article? The ethical choice resides in how much the group is prepared to compromise on alterations to the text from those outside the initial writing group in order to secure publication. This is particularly acute when the writing comes from an experience of sculpting. The sub-group felt strongly that ‘you needed to be there to write or contribute’, and this implies that we could respond to requests to clarify or expand a point, but not to change the writing itself, which was the product of the moment. From this we began to wonder about potential collaborators we would probably never make individual contact with: the readers. Could they collaborate? Could we continue our inquiries into doing this sort of writing with a much wider group who had read the outcome, but not been part of the original writing group, and might that relationship confer responsibilities on our readers? A metaphor emerging from this part of the discussion was that of a nucleus, a group of cells which could potentially become anything once out of our hands and in the wider world. Always already out of our hands and engaged in a process of becoming, perhaps? We close by quoting an extract from our writing on the day and leave the ball in the court of our readers:
‘And why am I so outcome focussed? Why do I believe this stuff is only, if and only if, valuable if it leads to an outcome? A three-star-plus paper. Look what they done to my soul, ma. Can I reclaim an embodied me in two days? Can I begin not to give a shit about the Academy which has been my home for twenty years in two days?’
Chapter four. Meandering and Writing Alongside Doreen Massey. Jane Speedy with Prue Bramwell-Davies, Catriona Brodie, Melissa Dunlop, Jan Filer, Marina Malthouse, Sue Porter, Chris Scarlett and Louise Younie. It was an open narrative inquiry space: a meeting of narrative researchers held once a month to talk and write together. This time they were gathered together in memory of Doreen Massey: feminist, activist and academic who had opened up new geographic spaces and territories to them all. Before they had begun there had been an e-mail exchange:
On 16 Mar 2016, at 20:43, Sue Porter wrote: Hello all, Some of you will have heard the sad news of the death last week of Doreen Massey, an inspiring, committed activist, feminist and socialist, who wrote so beautifully about space and reshaped geography so radically (try For Space as a starting place if you don't know her work). Jane Speedy and I would like to suggest that we use the April Open Space session to share readings and responses to the woman Ann Rippini taught us all to think of as 'the blessed Doreen Massey'. For those who don't know her work then a treat awaits you, and for those of us for whom she has been a significant influence it will be a chance to share stories. Read about Doreen's socialist activism here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/hilary-wainwright/how-wewill-miss-that-chuckle-my-friend-doreen-massey and more about her work here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doreen_Massey_(geographer) http://www.open.edu/openlearn/society/politics-policy-people/ geography/ou-radio-lecture-2006-the-world-really-shrinking We meet as usual 5.30–7.00, April 4th, in room 4.7 on the fourth floor of 35 Berkeley Square. Hope to see you there, Sue
Thanks for drawing my attention to this news Sue. I had missed it and felt real sadness reading your email. I once worked with Doreen many years ago on an OU Women's Studies summer school at Keele and it was a privilege to spend the week with her. Her influence on me, the way I looked at the world, lasted beyond that week to a lifetime. I also taught her geography module on the OU Foundation social science course in those days and was blown away by it – a highlight in my working life. Students were fascinated by looking at the world in this way and related to it immediately – so many of them said it was 134 their favourite module in the course. It was mine in teaching it. I loved doing that module with different groups of students – I always knew the discussion would go electric, voices and passions raised. It was her genius to connect together place and class in a narrative which storied lives in a new but instantly recognisable and oh so powerful way. I shall be with you in spirit at the Open Space meeting – enjoy sharing your memories of Doreen. Warm regards, Chrisii
Each of the scholars had arrived trailing and/or holding specific elements of their lives outside the room, some of which were later to be written and stitched into this text: the first to arrive, sitting alone with her view across the whole city, was somebody new to this community of scholars. She was followed by the ‘old’ professor. Then seven or eight others meandered or wheeled themselves along to the fourth floor of the school of education, which had a magnificent panoramic view across the city and quite an intimate, detailed window into the backs and back gardens of the Georgian houses down the hill below. They were situated in Clifton, where two centuries ago the slave-ship owners had built their tall, imposing houses with views of their vessels in the floating harbour below. Now in the twenty-first century, these houses, in turn, had been turned into blocks of flats and they too were overlooked from the plate glass windows of the university buildings at the top. The scholars began to talk about Doreen Massey, her life and her work, and of the spaces she had opened up for them with her conceptualisations of space, place and power. They came
from disciplines across and beyond the academy: from mathematics education; from medicine; from across the humanities, arts and social sciences; from social, political and educational activism, and as they did so, they took out Doreen Massey’s books and spread them across the tables in the room, quoting her description of space as a ‘simultaneity of stories thus far’ (Massey, 2005:20-31), opening up books they had written themselves that cited her work (Bramwell-Davis, 2015; Speedy, 2008), and in so doing opening up connections with each other. 135 They met together twice in open, inquiring memory of Doreen: gatherings of women on both occasions. Many of them knew each other: different generations of the same research network.iii They had heard of each other or had read each other’s work. After their meetings they each wrote into the space they had produced – a series of writings emerged, which was later woven together into a layered account (Ronai,1998), first by one of them, and then by all, into this paper: As a mental health social worker, I have lived professionally in a world of inter-disciplinary exchanges, boundaries, common ground as well as argument most of my adult life. But never before have I joined a group of women who came from such different ‘places’ and yet who all in some way or another held a part of me: dance, art, research, poet ... Jane described it on different occasions as ‘chatting’ and ‘meandering’ and she was right on both accounts, as it was similar to any walk I go on with a friend and my dog. Sometimes the chatting relates to the places we are meandering through. Sometimes there appears no connection at all; we are so engrossed in another world and some other time, almost oblivious to the path under our feet or our surroundings. And so it was this group of Massey disciples travelled back in time to the ‘place’ of the GLC and the ‘time’ of the Thatcher years. As I connected to the stories, I saw my younger ‘self’ standing on the bridge outside Parliament protesting against the Poll Tax. I remembered I was so full of hope that I would somehow change the world but underneath that passionate activist, I despaired I could even change ‘me’. When Jane reminded us of the Communard’s cry at the time: ‘don’t leave me this way!’ it was bittersweet. I recalled that I had so loudly
echoed their cry. Don't leave me this way I can't survive, I can't stay alive Without your love, no baby Don't leave me this way I can't exist, I will surely miss your tender kiss So don't leave me this way Oh, baby, my heart is full of love and desire for you So come on down and do what you've got to do 136 You started this fire down in my soul Now can't you see it's burning out of control So come on down and satisfy the need in me 'Cause only your good loving can set me free (a Tamla Motown hit from 1975, re-recorded by Jimmy Somerville and his band The Communards, topping the British charts for a month in 1986. This became the theme tune to protests against the demise of the (left-wing) Greater London Council, orchestrated by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government) Suddenly, it felt like we fast-forwarded just like Alice falling down the hole to ‘today’ and the impact of a new ‘places’: the computer, the internet, Twitter, email, Facebook, iPads and mobiles. The time is ‘now’ but unlike the youth of today, ‘five minutes’ seems to have a whole different length the other side of 40. Then we shift back to the end of the Second World War and the remains of the concentration camps. We seamlessly move through the meaning of places, the reclaiming of places to the intended demolition of places. We notice shadows on a wall, we pick up the bricks of slavery and oppression in our hands and question whether it is even possible for evil to be tangible in the land. So just like Alice ‘there’s no rule that (we) mayn’t go where (we) please’ (Carroll 1865). And through all of it Massey had something to say about time, space and place, as if she had been the White Rabbit pioneering it all and we were just following: ‘Wait for us, Doreen Massey, we’re coming too!’ §§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§
Time and Space, the x and y axis of our lives, mathematically entwined into four dimensions, binding us in our Earthly existence; they give form. But time, the process of forward motion, confuses us; so simple, yet so unimaginable, that we forget it’s relentless momentum, refusing to live within the limits set forth, the conditions of mortal life. Instead we travel where we will, through memory and imagination, our fifth and sixth dimensions.
Music and dance, the seventh and eighth planes, carry us into a given moment, a sacred space of flow, and there we reconnect, keep pace for a while with time itself, and though we are journeying, yet we feel an exquisite stillness, as if balanced on the zero point of being. And it may seem like a jolt, but here Red Ken works his way into the room. He represents all meaning in a life lived here in this place in these times just going by, just gone ... And underlying these, a spiritual dimension, the unseen, unconscious – or is it? The land of dreams and intention: ninth and tenth dimensions. Behind what is spoken, in the slipstream, I contemplate the perfection of certain beings – from certain angles, at certain points in time. How beautiful it is possible for humanity to be … yet how disappointing – yes, that part was spoken aloud. If only we could all go about without that hindrance of time, flattened to perfection, the image we seek to project. If only there were not so many people – not us of course, but other people – we could do without them. I’m sorry – did I write that aloud? I didn’t mean it – I love them, we love them, the other people, the far away and dispossessed. We know they are just like us, and that we, in our way, are suffering too by their suffering. We are connected, all one. It’s the thing we struggle with you see, the love-hate relationship with ourselves, with each other, and with the planet that sustains us. Perhaps it is right to recognise that we are not on the planet – we are the planet. We are The Earth, doing this to itself. And yet, that is hard to feel as reality. We are drawn to being separated out, even as we crave to be united.
And now that I have said this, put it out to be seen, it seems like such a small thing. A few words on a screen – was that all I was holding, that felt so pressing inside me? Yet small as they are, these words must now compete with the words of others, for space. For Space, as Doreen Massey’s book is called, competes with all the rest – it arrived in the post, waiting when I returned from the meeting. Now it lies, there in my private space, waiting for the time – will there ever be a time? – when it will be read. Can I open up a space, somewhere between now and the WHOLE OF THE REST OF MY LIFE for Doreen? And 138 you will tell me, the power is mine to make time. §§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§ The consultation – The Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport. The consulting room, a tiny space, paint scabby and a tired tobacco colour. I would have thought it might create an intimacy, the proximity, but instead we were both pinned by the closing together of walls. Even as I could analyse the problems written on the face of the hospital parking attendant confronted by a seemingly endless stream of patients trying to park in time for the appointment they have waited too long for (his stress and avoidance of eye contact, pushed as he was into the front line of patient frustration by his managers), I could not extract myself from feeling overshadowed by you, consultant, and I felt unseen even as our knees almost touched. In that small space my only opening was to perform as professional patient, despite your enthusiasm for the heights achieved by the neurologist who diagnosed my condition (nearly 20 years ago) – president of the college of neurologists no less. My inability to be sufficiently impressed by his elevation brought into sharp focus the two different worlds co-existing in the tiny consulting room: your progression through your list towards a welcome G&T, student by your side, specialist nurse on tap; as compared to my own stopping off here in an attempt to gather the data to inform my next move, to help me make those difficult choices about how to spend limited resources of energy and time. The setting reduced me to a passive recipient, debarred me from having a space to have my own set of questions to answer and choices to be made that could flow from an understanding of my position, as written by the pictures of the progress of the virus, it's path through my brain. I asked for another MRI scan, it having been nineteen years since I glimpsed the damage
caused by the virus – marks on a brightly coloured picture of my brain-world, hard to interpret beyond the labels ‘virus’ and ‘MS’. Are they destinations or journeys, or just labels to make the mess speakable? ‘I would do nothing different as a result,’ you said, closing the thin folder containing my medical notes. The consultation was at an end. How about that for a map, Doreen? §§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§ So, here we are, a group of white European women gathered together in a university room, brought together through the scholarship and ideas of Doreen Massey, in a city built on slavery; in a country soon to become obsessed once again, via our EU referendum, with Doreen’s intersectionalities (HillCollins, 1990) of race and gender and class. Doreen Massey’s ‘open space research centre’ was embedded in the culture of the Open University, to which she held a ‘fierce commitment’ (Featherstone, 2016). Our ‘open narrative inquiry space’ lives at the University of Bristol, a ‘Russell group’ university to which we are perhaps not so deeply committed, a culture in which we are not so much embedded, as tolerated. We were poised all this way up above the harbour, our own power geometries of professional and personal and relational space and place, tangling up with the hierarchies of the academy and the histories mapped out in the city stretching out beneath us, carving and connecting up the spaces between us. Too many lines drawn and entangled: ‘To live, every being must put out a line, and in life these lines tangle with one another’ (Ingold, 2015:3). Lines and divisions: pathways and trajectories; intersectionalities and multiplicities mapping out and slicing up the place we have arrived at together. It seems important to have described this place and circumstance of our meeting in some detail because, if according to Doreen Massey, space is no longer seen or experienced as a surface, but rather as a ‘pincushion of a million stories’ (Massey, 2013), then places are collections of those stories. Here we meet, explicitly collecting even more stories and setting them down in an act of remembrance in space as ‘a cut through the myriad stories that are all happening over time as we live our lives’ (Massey, 2013).
The multiplicity of happenings across spaces, the power differentials of different spaces, reminding us just how narratised and storied spaces are. Here are some storied spaces across a section of time … A collaborative writing space, Hawkwood, 2009: What if the life between us was like a garden? What kind of garden would it be? How are we tending to that life? What does the garden look like that we are raising? How do we water it 140 with our words, our kindness, respect, listening? Are there dry parts where the rain cannot yet reach? The compost heap, the muck, the smell, the discarded and unlovely stuff, how does it fertilise the soil? What about the stones, pebbles, rocks, do we keep some for their own beauty, remove others so we can plant? When will we see the flowers? What seeds are planted in our imagination, hearts, minds, souls, beings? How might they take root in our collectiveness? I see crocuses of early spring just poking out of a hard and wintry soil, I see the late autumn seed pods shaken by the wind, the seeds scatter. Doctor-patient spaces, 2011: Just as the chart ‘flattens’ the patient and reduces the three-dimensional person to a two-dimensional caricature, so the medical education process can do the same thing to students (Shapiro, 2009:7). Patients need space. Doctor’s space is in ‘ever greater degrees of collapse’ (Scannell 2002). Offering space is one of the most ‘powerful yet underused skills’ of a doctor (Street, Gordon & Haidet, 2007). Medical students are flattened, rendered breathless by the educational processes they go through. Space does not come naturally to us as practitioners (Street, Gordon & Haidet, 2007): How then might we offer hospitality? A friendly emptiness for our patients to dance their own thoughts in their own languages. For year one medical students, even just choosing to produce a creative piece might be like a space to breathe, an island in the ocean of medical facts to be learned. It is a time where they can attend to their clinical experiences not just intellectually, but by engaging with their emotion, imagination and creativity. An illness space 2014: Space, just dark space, space that wants to swallow me up.
Should I resist being sucked into the vanishing black hole? Space to be and be and be, but this space is unwanted. I want to be doing and productive, to be full of hope and for my body to behave. I stare at the iPad looking desperately for some kind of TV to get me out of this space, to anaesthetise me so I no longer know where I am. §§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§ 141 The ‘dancer’ in room 4.07 - 9th May 2016 Jane introduced me to the group as ‘the dancer’. One of many possible descriptions of me. I haven’t been introduced that way for more than forty years. Yet in that space, that night, I related to others as the ‘dancer’. That part of me who engaged more readily through body, movement and feelings than words was well aware of what moving through space meant. It took a while to find my voice, my dancer’s voice – the part of me that found it hard to engage with Massey’s understanding and theorizing about space. Generally, in my world of space as a dancer, I don’t talk. Rather I communicate emotions and stories with and without meaning in a non-verbal way from the position, dimension, time and quality of my movement in personal and general space. Sometimes telling a story – my story or that of others, either alone, with a partner or in a group of people. As the dancer, communication in a non-verbal way within my own personal space is second nature to me. I tell my story by moving my body through my own personal space to occupy what had previously been someone else’s space or the general space around me. The occupancy of such a space is always a work in progress on whatever plane the person is moving through it or more often reclaiming it. In dance one travels in and out of places in space and time. Memories of people, places, spaces and stories of my involvement with dance filled up my head space with no room to connect with Massey. Difficult then. How could I with my dancer’s head and body on, connect with Massey’s geopolitical take on the topic of ‘space?’ What about the sense of spirituality and dancing from the soul, the smell of me that added to the atmosphere of the story I left in any given space I moved in? How do I add all those important ingredients into the pot? Such deeply personal, intimate things belonging to just me are entwined with all the other stories held there? These inner musings take me into a new space beyond the
reading I have done in preparation for the evening’s discussion. I listen, wait and hear connections to Massey’s views on space from many different perspectives – all of which resonate with me in some meaningful way. Group collaboration for someone like me who prefers her own space and who changes like a chameleon is never an easy option. As the dancer tonight, what do I know about Massey’s concepts of space despite reading about them over and over again? Gone is the part of me who read Massey’s words on a computer page in stolen time from another place (work!) in space. 142 Our meandering ‘chatterings’ as Jane called them, exposed shared ownership of spaces and places we have all passed through at some moment in time. Individual experiences interweaving to grow into a more global story of what happened in some space or other. I know space is alive, organic even – I’m a dancer! I sense it, feel it and use it with every ounce of passion in me as we all have done in our own ways. Massey’s notion of space as living – that’s something the dancer in me can easily resonate with. Lost in my own head space, I am stuck with the barefoot, naive dancing hippie girl in me in this space where we are all been reminiscing of the places we’ve been that have both personal and global meaning to us. How can my experiences of dancing through it all add anything other than personal to the global picture of understanding meaning in connection with using space? We have a similar mission Massey and I - we have tried to bring space alive, her in words, me through movement. Shame I didn’t know Doreen Massey in my dancer’s world. A world where we could have shared a set of examples that are missing for me in any discussion about space. Those of spirituality, of being at one with oneself or others in the present moment in space. Feeling the emotions, sensations and physicality of movement that embodies and grounds you in that place to that time and space. How then do my views find a place in the conversation without any speaking or writing about it? ‘Not here. Not now’, I tell myself before the dancer lets lose! This isn’t the place or the space for practical demonstration. How then do I find a voice for my dancer where everything is about putting theory into practice? After explaining about being outside my comfort zone in discussing space rather than using it, I attempt to link the notion of space to my knowledge of it as a dancer in relation to Massey’s work. Rambert is mentioned by another member of the group. I reconnect with my voice and try to describe the
indescribable when now I can only connect with the topic of moving through space through my body not my head. I garble something about the missing aspects for me in Massey’s work regarding space. Where are the concepts connected to spirituality of space, the aspects of a living space that are more to do with human emotions, sensations and feelings, traditions, rituals and long forgotten ancient histories? All the missing things that make up some shifting foundation of the space travelled through thus far. The unspoken marks of life left in those sacred spaces. No, space is definitely not a flat surface across which we walk. 143 In ‘dancer’ mode, it’s a moment in time when a body can fly weightlessly through the air, touch the sphere of the atmosphere as invisible boundaries fall away reform again and again in tune with the motion of the person/people using it. Space is all about perpetual stories in motion until it’s time to touch base, to be grounded, form relationships with oneself, another, many others before taking flight again to take up another space to bring it alive in a personal way. Space is caught up in a continual process of development. It is a continual process of development just like anything else in life. Time owning space is but fleeting, you are but a slice of life like the myriads of others who chance to go there before and after you. Sometimes playing parts in a shared story, other times not. For a brief intimate moment in time captured in a memory, a photograph, book, a movement even. When you move through space, you leave an imprint of yourself in time, a slice of your story to add to the longer story that may never be told. As the dancer in the group tonight, not as any of the other more intellectual parts of me that might have changed the course of our moment in that open discussion space. My wordless sensations, the feelings of an embodied mind and soul sharing space with words from women operating from a very different space. My contribution to the discussions about space came out in response to the idea of space as being the place where transient never-ending processes go on in a limitless, boundary-less environment. I lived, slept, breathed in that notion of space and used it accordingly and knowingly from the wordless movement in me that was the life blood of my very being from the perspective of a dancer. Tonight, and in all those other times and spaces, memories and recollections we talked about in our homage to Doreen Massey, even as the dancer, I can align myself more closely with her and her understanding of the world.
Like the ‘mental health social worker’ I too have lived professionally in a world of inter-disciplinary exchanges. I have worked in many a tight, inflexible system that calls itself inclusive yet stifles individual creativity and difference within strict boundaries. The group gave the dancer equal opportunity to travel back in time with them to the GLC and the Thatcher years. She too protested in a gentle activist kind of way, joining the picket lines with women to protest about some cause or other that we all believed in. I sensed the fusion of our many different perspectives on space. My little moment as ‘the 144 dancer’ in space is no less or no more significant than anyone else’s time in space. §§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§
The path through the olive grove that led to our villa was a quarter of a mile long. At least, this is what I used to hear my father say when describing our situation in Corfu. The road from town that turned from tarmac to dust only went so far towards our destination. Our parking spot for whichever vehicle had transported our family of seven from Kent to Corfu was just short of this olive grove – to reach our villa, we had to walk this quarter of a mile stretch. I can’t begin to count the number of times I must have walked that path. The terrain was stony and dusty, and the feel of feet crunching on dead leaves underfoot. For six weeks of every summer, from the age of three until well into my adult years, this topographical distance held no significance of measured distance or time. More, a space where I not only walked, I skipped, I ran, and I jumped. I saw, I heard, and I smelt. And in that space, I felt. Feelings of happiness and sorrow, of comfort and the freedom to grow. One summer I even learnt how to dance, Greek-style. You needed a good pair of shoes or sandals to walk along the varied terrain of the olive grove. I would always regret wearing flip-flops as my sweaty feet would slide off their platform onto the earth only to dirty both my feet and my footwear. One year when I was about eleven, in an attempt to overcome my problem, I remember cutting out the shape of my flip-flop from an old towel and sticking it to its surface. A temporary solution that seemed to work although I don’t remember repeating this any other year. I preferred instead to enclose my
feet in more substantial footwear to give me more freedom to adapt to the various physicalities of the path. Knowing the difference between a smooth, firm, trustworthy surface of a large grey boulder from loose, small stones scattered in the dust which could make you skid and fall. I learnt a great deal about where to plant each foot, how much weight to place in each step and when to transfer to the other foot just to stay balanced and upright. Once when I fell, a snake uncoiled itself and slithered into the shrubbery, rustling the dry, sun-weathered foliage as it left from the rock just beside me. This was far too close-a-call for my liking, and I have held a wariness of snakes 145 ever since. But I have since learnt not to fear that same noise whilst walking in the Greek countryside as it can be lizards instead, running away from the threat of danger. Sometimes I had a hand to hold whilst weaving my way along the path through the grove where olive trees, maybe hundreds of years old, were positioned here and there, their seniority giving them a priority of way. I find it hard to recall whose hand I might have held except for one, the hand of a man who I can now identify as the first, deepest, truest love of my life. At the age of eleven or twelve, he was old enough to be my father. I skipped and trotted along by his side whilst often his own son who was a few years younger than me held his other hand. That firm, loving hand of this visitor to Corfu who was renting a villa with his family along through the olive grove from ours. They holidayed there for one or two more summers during which time we became very close and developed a beautiful friendship. I’m not sure if he knew how much I wished for him to be my father, one who showed an interest in me, and one who gave me a love that felt safe and secure. One summer when I was around fourteen or fifteen, I felt a different kind of love in that olive grove by learning the steps of Greek dances. With my two sisters, our tutors were three handsome young men who danced for tourists at a restaurant we would frequent. That summer, they became regular visitors to our villa and together, we’d carry our portable record-player to a clearing in the olive grove. We’d start the music, lift up our arms to lock our hands onto one another’s shoulders, and together we’d move and sway as one to the steps of the Hasapiko. There was also a practical purpose to this walk through the olive grove. Whether from villa to car or from car to villa, as for the workings of any household, the path was a route by which provisions and materials for the home were ferried to and fro. My parents preferred early morning or evening as the cooler sun
rose or died down. I never minded the heat of the day myself but whatever I carried, mostly food and drink, I learnt the importance of us as individuals needing to provide for the good of the family. It was learning about the need to walk from one place to another in order to survive. A need that demanded stability and sure-footedness as slips and falls caused delay and irritation to my father. That quarter-mile stretch of land was a timeless space in my life where I learned to breathe, to feel and to move.
146 § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § And so we moved through space, writing ourselves and our lives into and out of our meetings together in room 407, as if tangled and tumbling together down a vortex: yes, vortex is the what comes to mind – the opposite and yet the articulation of space. We fear, are exhilarated by the vortex, but are calmed by the space though it is a much more anarchically configured ‘thing’. As a thing it becomes jelly, I am always outside it. How to become it – only that which is not physical can do that: all the religious stuff about the perils of the flesh. Something topological, both inside and outside, but it’s still a thing! The space of … belonging, for instance … how is such a thing made? How can we know space?
Endnotes i. Ann Rippin, Reader in Management, School of Economics, Finance and Management, University of Bristol – a member of the network who did not take part in these conversations. ii. Chris Scarlett, former co-ordinator of women’s education for the WEA and a doctoral graduate member of the network. iii. ANI-net – the Artful Narrative Inquiry Network at the University of Bristol. 147
Part three Playing in Other/Outside Spaces.
Introduction to part three. Davina Kirkpatrick, Carol Laidler and Jane Speedy. The two chapters that comprise this section of the book look very different to each other, although they were both inspired by the same fragile sensibilities that form post-human (see: Braidotti, 2013) windows to our world(s). Both chapters were informed by an understanding that collaborative inquiries work best when there is a shared awareness of the importance of 152 holding a space of not-knowing: a space of fluidity; of becoming; leakage; and loose boundaries: the fertile space at the borders of all our certainties (Anzaldua,1994). The processes of putting these ideas into practice and of presenting them to you as readers of these text were very different and as Sameshima (2007:xi) would say: ‘form determines possibilities for content and function thus the use of an alternative format can significantly open new spaces for inquiry’. There is considerable overlap between the people working on both these projects, and, indeed, in the ideas that contributed to them, but, as you can see from the introductions to each chapter below, they took place amidst different environmental, material and interpersonal ecologies, all of which evoked different issues of intimacy, familiarity hospitality, generosity and diverse practices of collaborative writing and art-making. The method across both chapters was being together sharing space, meals, walks, anecdotes and stories. Starting with conversation, then a discussion of the length of writing time, it tended to be short bursts of stream of consciousness writing from ideas triggered by our interaction or that were bubbling away in people anyway. There were tensions – assumptions of what could be written and how prior relationships inflected our expectations (in Pockets, some people had written together before, some had not, we all had different connections to each other). In Pockets we continued with this process of talking, writing, then reading out what we had written, before writing again, until on the last day we passed our writing on to another in the room and wrote into each other’s writing. Whereas, Cozy Crimes is the result of writing, reading out, passing on and writing into five times, until the circle was complete. By the end there were five
different pieces of writing, which were edited together to make one. At different points of the process in each chapter there was a shift to working with visual imagery. The act of writing collectively, flouted established academic traditions of authorship, ownership and individual authenticity. These subversive acts of collaboration, problematized not only the idea of individuals writing by themselves in a creative and relational world in which non-human factors – the food people ate, the hills and valleys they saw and the dogs that accompanied them – were equally the co-authors of this 153 experience. In the writing below, the art seemed to the group always to take second place to the writing practices, although as much of their time was taken up with both. Indeed, this parallels the way the practice had developed over time, starting with collaborative writing and adding the visual art element and mark-making later in the Centre’s history, concurrent with adding artists into the community of writers later in the group’s history. The handling of the diverse materials that people were using, the different papers, fabrics, glues, threads, inks, writing and drawing tools and colours that were used, all informed the process. This layering of how meaning is made from word to image and image to word and back again creates a darning of art and writing. This is a ‘khadi’ collaboration or ‘cardi writing’ by our definition, akin to A/r/t/tography a methodology of embodiment and rendering and ‘a doubling’ where art and words “complement, extend, refute, and/or subvert one another” (Springgay et al. 2005:900). The community wanted, and advocated, a seamless shifting and leaking between the two practices, but had to acknowledge that they had always started with the spoken word, rather than visual linguistic forms. The collective intensity and focus create a spark of energy in the room – how it relates to the particular in each person, how we build intimacy around other’s intimacy. This creates a rich palette that can be inspiring, triggering, overwhelming for those present and could be problematic for the reader unless they are willing to give themselves over ‘to being with’ the text and image produced. Let the introductions guide you.
Chapter five. Pockets. Davina Kirkpatrick and Alys Mendus with Carol Laidler, Sue Porter, Jane Speedy, Ann Rippin, Donna Kemp and Mike Gallant.
Introduction Here we are again a writing together circle and it has gladdened my heart, my spirits to hear you all so that the words, the language, the phrases, the prose, the poetry …. 155 A group of eight scholars and practising artists at all ages and stages of life, and of careers within the academy, came together for a week at a retreat centre in Gloucestershire. Look up and gaze down the valley as the hedge between the garden and the wild gets trimmed back into shape. For a moment, now past, I felt a distance between me (I am) and the green and yellow and the russet early autumn reds, the dark trees lining the verdant fields and the distant passing unidentified bird. We were an interdisciplinary gathering of scholars from across the creative arts and social sciences intent on developing a collaborative writing/making project together. A number of us had considerable experience of writing together collectively, whilst others brought skills in collaborative art-making. We had, we felt, much to offer to each other as a group. The theme of 'pockets' had been mooted by some of the group in an email exchange before we met, and at our first session we talked about both the practicalities of making pockets and the meanings and histories of pockets in our lives and the lives of our ancestors down the ages. 19
Following Gannon and Davies (2006:3) telling, listening, writing – we talked, wrote, read during the days and each evening we made visual responses. We spent the third day writing; writing into each other’s words. On the final day borrowed from Spry (2011) (also, see: chapter three, this volume) we performed an embodied sculpt of collective experience. Here we were, gathering in an idyllic rural retreat centre to work at what could be seen as the frontiers, where research methodologies and arts practices meet, whilst elsewhere in 156 the world vulnerable people with absolutely nothing left in their pockets were washing up on the shores of Europe. I want to tell you that I love you that the word we are looking for here is love, not trust or truth. This process is founded on our search for love. Our search for knowing how to love each other and how to risk entanglements, love even, with these new people who are coming towards us now, marching across Europe, walking down railway tracks, small children hanging down their backs and round their necks, their hands laden with plastic bags ... Love ... pockets of love is all it takes, it’s all we have, are, perhaps for each other? Open our borders ... This chapter has been edited by two of the participants and we offer you here our ‘assemblage’, following themes that emerged through our writing and art-making experience: words written during our time together are italicised and those added subsequently are in regular font. Images from our making and
sculpt run throughout the chapter. Pockets conceal reveal reversible invisible divisible evidence of use useful carry support show power remove power bestow power.
Is memory just a series of pockets? Why do I remember some and not others? And how much is true? Be here now. What does that mean? To forget the pockets? The past? What is now? But now has already gone. Snapshots. Pockets. Glimpses of life. I want more than: be here now. I want: be here now, and there was then. I find myself forgetting, as the coverings on the connections, the wiring in my brain shreds and the myelin sheaths decay. It started as a need to consciously make each movement, being unable to take my attention away from what had once become automatic (but, I remember now had once been learned too, I
once needed to form a step, to step out by lifting, carrying and placing each foot, eurythmy-like). Tiring, absorbing, irritating and distancing. How can I be with you when I need to attend to the physical me so much? But now, I find that sometimes trying doesn't work. I simply cannot remember the act of standing. I sit re-membering, remaking the memory through rehearsing the moves, hoping I will reconnect with a groove made by moving. We speak of being in the now, and yet so much keeps going on, automatically being yesterday, and yesterday. I wonder about 158 the possible freedom of not remembering that automatic background hum of movement, what space it could make for another sort of being in the now. Not remembering as meditation. It is just a batch of pockets full of stories floating along. But some of these stories are more powerful than others/some are in a language that catches us all in its nets and verbs and doing words and some of our languages are lost or hidden, floating, garbled, whispered in the wind. Things/Loss A paradoxical moment of climbing over the edge of the pocket and into the world of its inside-ness. I turned so far in as to be out; a restricted focusing on what I hoped to find in my treasured pockets in my thinking mind. So far in, that the darkness of the unlit pocket’s depth captured and held, just for a tentative moment, my fears of who I am. Is it subversive to turn the inside outside? Show the inner, hidden lining. What would be on the inside? Maybe the most 22
fearful would not be the vivid hue of shock and revelation? Maybe the tawdry, pen-stained, fluff-encrusted, sagging, white tinged grey from too much washing? She took me to the market-hall as there are stalls selling vintage fabric, and, of course, my finely-tuned proboscis sniffed out some packets of Laura Ashley fabric which I collect. When I got home, I took out the finds and was a bit surprised to discover that I had bought, by accident, a packet of small denim pockets, 159 which looked about the size to have come from a teenager's shirt. They found their way into my bag and my home. These pockets have agency. They want to tell me something. They have joined my happy domestic ecology for some reason. They want. Clothes want. Clothes matter. Clothes, the sensitive insist, carry the energy of their previous owners. Clothes resonate on a level, which we barely discern. Widows used to make quilts from their dead husband's shirts. Let him be with me just a little bit longer. Let me smell him, feel him even though he has gone. Post-humanism. The power of the thing. The power of clothes. Mighty and pedestrian. I wore my father for two years eight months. We took him, a coffee can of ash, up onto the common, where he and my mother had sat together, while first me and then me and my brother had played in the grass, chasing butterflies, exploring small holes in pursuit of their mysterious makers. My mother chose the exact spot, where she said he'd said he wanted to be spread. She tipped the first fall of silvery grey ash, with its gritty inclusions, onto the summer dried grass. She faltered, as if the can had become heavy, her mouth working, eyes dry but distant. My brother took over from her, emptying 23
the last of him as a small wind rolled up the rounded slope and over us. Later, as I rolled back towards the car I looked down and noticed the small gathering of ash in the seams of my cardigan. I could not find the heart to brush him off, and continued to wear him. His ashes sifting into my cardigan.
About the writing process The tears surprise, seemingly so near the surface, some lock turned and now they continue to fall. There is such intimacy in the allowing of how the conversations have leaked and stained, how the edges between one and another and another have already blurred, intimacy in the telling and listening and being moved by. If theatre allows you to try on and try out emotional realities in order to try out other ways of seeing, understanding, living (as Juliette Binoche said), so does collaborative writing. So why am I here? In pockets of emptiness, I ask myself now. All so eloquent. Powerful transporters. Raw tears. Talking ... hearing words about ... no ... hearing the word was it safety, safe? I did not think I wasn’t. Was it ignorance? I don’t know – I am lost – at
a loss, divorced from the now almost beloved safety, of that once damned word pockets. Why do we have to discuss process, I wonder now as the pen moves – here is a product in process self, selves, in process an endless becoming through us in context. At last I am warm.
I guess one of the ideas, maybe even lessons learned as gospel, was that one – I – must write across the threshold – the public private one – The power of a moment when an idea leaks through writing individually separately, jumps that divide of self and appears like a magic 100th monkey moment in someone else’s written word, a thread identified and pulled on at the same unknowing moment.
Example of writing into each other Writing knowing you are going to write into my writing. Writing knowing and not knowing. 25
Trust/Truth This morning we talk about boundaries, without naming them trust. We share our frameworks for understanding the relationships built between therapist and client, parent and child, lover and lover, writer and writing others (without naming the writer bit). The slippery slope from isolation to intimacy, and into confluence - the abyss, the ecstasy of loss of self into another, THE LOSS OF SELF that threatens to obliterate us, the retreat into comforting and familiar isolation. This morning we spoke of loss of self, losing our self/ourselves. We named the pockets of intensity called being in the NOW, being outwith myself. We did not speak of trust, and yet we 26
spoke of trust. This morning we approached cautiously, sniffing. Circling around each other, our different stories, our seas of stories flowing into an ocean yet only dipped into. An ethics of writing together, how shall we make this happen? We started without protocol no manners I did not give my spiel about the process 163 the history this is not a university seminar for Christ-sakes enough bonds of friendship between us for the process to begin and speak and start for and of itself This is asking a lot of Carol and Alys risktakers both we’ve collected a couple of high wire trapeze artists here methinks... today there is talk of safety nets at the circus and strictly no clowning before lunch what if? What if? Tightrope Walker How did you know in my pocket I carry a card that says: I am a Tightrope Walker without a safety net? I smile inside, warming to the low murmur of words in the room, public and privately uttered 27
inside as well as out. Trust. There it is the word not spoken. Trust in me, hold me in your fold certainly, certainty. We are all one yet we are different. Our own sea of stories. Like Haroun. He had a sea of stories, and Salman Rushdie had a fatwah on sharing his. This links to freedom and vulnerability. To share a story with others when the future is unknown and the impact on others is unknown. This is the power of narrative it has been said by others like Tami Spry (2001). Yet trust and safety raise their head. To share a word orally means it can be heard and quite possibly changed in its retelling. The analysis in the audience as Carolyn Ellis (Ellis and Bochner 2006) explains. However once it is written and shared in hard print (even if virtual) it doesn’t not become unwritten. It can be shared by a click of a button to whom, by whoever, and whenever. Where does consent come into each of these ‘transactions?’ Trust hangs over the procedure like a dark cloud, ripe with moisture, ready to leak, but also in balance in equilibrium. This equilibrium of trust. In each other and in the process that we are all part of. Our stories are our own and they float with us in the sea. I’m surprised by the common sensibility of it all – of how your hands seep into my pockets, of how your hands are slipping into, over the thresholds of, my pockets, of my hands may be closer to yours .... 28
Let’s be radical, but not too radical/subversive, but not too subversive is it possible to be quietly truthful? How come truths are so loud and raw and impolite to utter? I am topless and shaking my body wildly to the music. The beat flowing through my torso. My breasts bouncing and my nipples erect. Being naked. 165 Being topless. Being the first. Being confident. Does not always bring me favours. It masks my vulnerability. My being me in one essence prevents the other from seeing my vulnerability. From trusting me and seeing potential depth. The confidence masks depth and creates a pocket/a space for me to hide and sadly in many times it seems to be judged and labelled not as free but as wanton. The feminist discussion may have begun/have been going on for a long time but the patriarchy still hangs out even in the liberated. In this place where children are closer to the angels than we are I wonder suddenly, if I am the oldest ...what does it matter? suddenly it does and I want to be old, wrinkled, a crone, dancing topless, breasts hanging down, downwardly mobile, sagging nipples, am I further from the angels I wonder, or am I coming towards them from a different direction, in a circle? Writing about making Trust and truth are big words 29
too big for my writing I cannot grasp them, cannot make them in this form I want to go back to making She drew my gaze down to my dye-stained hand I showered too honest Honesty Truth Trust 166 these are to be made, not written, made in gauzy ephemeral, floaty, fabric. The art of facilitation - a light touch of try this, this is possible, scanning the fairness quota, is everyone equally engaged? Is everyone getting what they want? “You can’t always get what you want. You get what you need” I sing silently. And I want everyone to get what they want. I sit here wondering and reflecting on the process of making and this need to be good enough to need appreciation and praise and support from others. And then I begin to wonder about our individual artistic journey and actually are we not being truly collaborative? Why are we not making one thing for all of us? For the project rather than our own. Or is this only me who is planning where I might put my pocket or use my pocket as a memento of this week? Making art is fun. There’s no getting out of it. People call it work, works of art, tell it how you like, but it’s fun. It brings joy. Making stuff, making images, marks on paper, canvas, cloth, stone, wood, celluloid, is compelling and absorbing for me like no other activity. To make stuff that represents, performs the 30
worlds we imagine ourselves to inhabit is, I cannot help thinking, the main reason we humans are all here. Whether it is an activity we participate in or witness, audience or artist, there is something purposeful, resilient, relational, like nothing else: art, making stuff is the story that gives our life on earth meaning, that gives meaning to the stories of our lives. The press of the heat machine - blue back dropped by so much - rural green and purple in the bay of windows twelve disciples of light perhaps thrown upon the stage of pressing pockets into existence colour, space, curls, figures pink holding hands bold and the longing for, was it red? vibrancy, nurtured notes of fucking pleasure – pinking shears where no wanton men exist, it seems was said.
a scent of alchemy afoot. There is something about the making that confounds me: I hesitate, sketch some ideas, put them aside, hesitate, wonder at others, envious of their mark-making (so much better than mine), wish it was ok to copy (and know it's not), withdraw a bit, watching, waiting for some inspiration... 31
I feel I ’should’ know, have missed the cue, I didn't pick up the package of talent as I passed ’go’. Lacking, looking, longing ... Eventually I start touching things, a brush, a knife, some dye, dragging colour onto paper, composing not comparing, exploring not envying. I mix dye, add texture to dragged marks, tear masking tape, rub wax into fibre. The laying of hands onto paper, fingers curling around brushes, fluid dripping, I explore and let go a bit. I know more through my hands than my imagination. I leave off making with a mixture of hope and anxiety: the optimism of the heart, the pessimism of the 168 intellect (Gramsci 1935/2005). Seeing my prepared paper printing its pigment into new fibres is curious: I like it, and I want more. I test ideas ‘doing’ is making an imprint in me, as the tape and thread, the very moire makes a texture on the printed cloth... I need some space, and after lemon and hot water comes a softer eye: I catch the complement in a fragment of my printing that resonates with the quilted textile of the backing cloth. A wholeness is appearing through the blending of parts, the interactions of seeming dislocated marks makes a piece that has a hum. Listening to the humming I am led to new questions beyond the answers I could have imagined before. Now the new work begins: opening myself to the suggestions that arise from the interactions, not confined in my mind but something in and of itself; it’s hatching (and) already softly singing. Action research, making to know, listening to the objects, letting go and going on.
Dialogue on making I write a message to post in my time machine: 32
Dear younger self when you are 60 you will still be excited by the thought of the new. I desire a pocket. I desire a momento. I desire to leave my mark. Remaining curious about how we might collaborate further perhaps, already disappointment at the now perhaps not to be cushion, that I had come to want for me. You have heard a call. An appel. The not-yet-in being object has called to you from some world where it already exists. It is a call 169 makers hear. And it is not a tiny whisper, a gentle sighing. Please come and find me when you have a minute. It is sometimes subtle and sometimes scrambled, but it also thunders and importunes and forces you to not sleep. Shutting it down and off is to do damage to your soul. She said pompously. As an artist and maker I know that call. I also know the frustration of making everything else more important than being in the studio. The way my body holds and relaxes tension through the process of making. Making can be fraught with frustration and disappointment, if I hold too tightly to the idea in my head, but if I let the idea shift and adjust, listen to the materials I am using, I can enter a concertina-ing of time where three hours pass in the blink of an eye and my childhood wonder and delight at the world is replenished. So I wonder if your genes were calling out to the thing which was on some post-human level that few of us can ever really grasp and I am looking at you Karen Barad (2007) – to call into being a pocket. Making calls out to me, hence my desire to include making of 33
objects in our process of making writing together. I think it accesses another strata of being, enriches the writing, allows more risk-taking perhaps? And there I was in tears in my room, I had just had a terrible row with Sue. I wasn’t going to stay here and put up with this shit and then Davina came into the building carrying a sewing machine and loads of bags of stuff – intriguing. I was able to go and apologise to Sue, whose fault this all wasn’t, who was having to deal with this situation every day just as I was. 170 Davina came past carrying a big blue machine that looked lethal, would we be getting a go on that? By this stage, I was hugging Sue, we were both in tears, friends again. What an outburst, life’s a bitch and then you die... only on this occasion we were going to do disperse dying on fabric, making pockets.... And all this time, we have sat here together whilst a whole other story trickled on in our midst, with Glenn coming and Sue going – another pocket of stories, a whole other coterie of issues under the cover of ground floor darkness. What are the stories the others aren’t telling? What are the images we are not making on cloth? Does what has not been said/made/marked on paper leave residual traces in and around our group like a refuse worker’s strike? It is borne of incomprehension really and incredulity that things are still so unfair. Why can’t they make provision for more than one fucking cripple in this place? Perhaps, cripples are closer to the angels too? Why is there no provision for fallen angels with broken wings? Don’t be careless with me and my stuff and my life, don’t be careless with me. I am trying to live like this, just as she is trying to live like that. And we can all make stuff, we can make a contribution, just grant me access to human life, life as a 34
human, making stuff. Body sculpting Conceal Reveal I had wanted to write these words subtly onto my pocket but had somehow not quite managed it. The tension that I had slept with fell away as we played our game, twisting our bodies around each other touching carefully holding the red thread between attentive fingers, making faces laughter crumpling the surface. So many things I forgot to say things that I had wanted to reveal left unsaid. Trust Love and my words of the week Reveal Conceal
I felt a need to illustrate the struggle of trying to put on my pocket, to get inside it, to wear this idea of ‘pockets’, and especially my pocket. 35
Humour cut the air, and was in the pit, for a moment being brought to my solitary maleness in this female bodied wellspring. There was the solidity and isolation of the floor relieved by the proximity of bodies, and then warmed by the touch of a back and my shoulder supporting each other briefly whilst the risky reality of Alys’ cartwheels played overhead. A fair representation of theme and counter-theme. I do not understand – Perform
172 sculpt sculpt sculpt
someone wants to be between sex and death, I don’t, do I? Refugees I don’t want the money I send out of recognition and empathy with those fleeing from their homes, to line the pockets of those who trespass against them. It feels like the world is all sewn up. We think we are a force but perhaps we are just a small pocket. Another plane rumbles overhead. Reminds me of other lives. Of those refugees that could not fly. I wonder at my own bubble. My life pocket. Is it arrogance? What can I really do? Am I selfish? Do I not trust aid agencies? I sigh… Pocketing my disapproval, my disconnection, my sense of outrage. Withdrawing it into my fist, and transferring it from fist to pocket, pressing it down deep into the cloth bag of secret 36
thought, of separate existence. On the bus I listen to the waves of conversation, listening for a familiar word used in a familiar way. But the drift goes elsewhere, I disconnect. Down there in my pocket fingers work, fretting the tough ticket into a hairy pliability. Transferring anxiety into activity. Displacing it, placing feelings into threads and tufts, a fabric of familiarity in-folded. When they approach the border, where are their hands? The taughtness releases where? Through what comforting action? Is there a kernel of essential self tucked safe into some fabric fold, or held between tightly curled fingers? Voices are shouting out, 173 but what is being said, is it a welcome or another rejection? One small body face down on a beach - tiny fingers fold over drying salt. For three or four days the world finds its ethical heart and, digging it out of that tight buttoned pocket, pins it on its sleeve. The doors creak open for 20,000 others, manufacturing a trickle of gratitude to soothe the sting of guilty complicity. ‘Everything?’ ‘Everything!’ Their eyes met for a moment, more than a moment, uncomfortable stuck glutinously together, the hard resin of the one with drained out wetness of the other. He reached inside his coat, a scrap of paper, some numbers, nothing identifiable, frayed at the edges, the aftermath of a downpour in the forest, masked, dried, desiccated. A broken biro, plastic whitened with nervous teeth, a take-away knife and fork tied with elastic like a young daughter’s ponytail. He laid them to rest on the chipped Formica and returned to another pocket. A scarf, a small split piece of pine, the incongruous tartan cloth carefully folded and placed in line. Now his left hand reached into the heavy coat and pulled out a paper package. Carefully wrapped, protected, squirrelled away, half a cheese 37
sandwich from the previous day laid in the graveyard of all he carried. Their eyes once more joined, the other’s gesture of ‘and the rest’ taking him back to the closer pockets, the ones he felt next to his skin. Some coins, maybe half a dozen Euros mixed in a well-used pocket handkerchief. He gathered the light metal in his fingers and touched the smooth stone of her brooch. No, not that. His eyes flickered and flitted, barely grazing the resin stare of the other. The coins scattered on the floor and he rushed to pick them up one by one, placing them in the ordered rows of 174 his life. ‘That’s all,’ he muttered unconvincingly. ‘Belt,’ said the other, pointing at the worn leather. He unbuckled it, pulled free from its loops and added it. ‘Shoe laces.’ He crouched down and untied them, removing them one then the other, the second requiring another unknotting where he’d tied it together two days ago as they crossed the fence. ‘Arms up!’ He spoke gently and began the process of patting down his body, over the coat, down the sleeves, under the coat, down below the belt loops. They both felt it at the same time. ‘Out!’ He could feel the tears dissolving their connection. He shook his broken head and complied, the tips of his grasping fingers lingering on the smoothness as he left her on the cold Formica slab. ‘What’s that?’ He was aware of the hand pressing on the firmness of his right-hand trouser pocket. It was where he secretly touched a smile from his childhood before all this. ‘Turn them out! Come on! Turn it out!’ The tears ran, leaving estuary markings across his cheeks as he mouthed a ... a word ... a ‘please’…. 38
‘Turn them out! Turn your pockets out!’ He took what time he needed, slowly, with reverence, pulling the cloth back out of its entrance, inside out the dust began to fall, the ashes caught the light breeze drifting to the floor. A small handful. An urn. ‘Papa - sorry,’ said the dry mouth and the drained eyes. Pockets of Lesbos They arrive on the beach. I realise the most important thing in everyone's pockets is the mobile phone. Watching people staggering on the beach in floods of tears as they spoke to their mother or grandmother in Afghanistan or Syria.
I was wondering how these phones stayed dry after a four-hour boat crossing in a tiny rubber boat and then I saw the plastic waterproof pocket hanging around many of the people's necks. And then the fixed smile was no longer glued to my face, a real smile had begun to spread across as I remembered my week in Stroud at Hawkwood College. I remembered our group pondering on the refugee crises and the people with plastic bags walking down the train tracks in Hungary and I thought about our sewing and making actual pockets. And the history of pockets flooded back, that pockets were hung outside the body on the hips and I thought about the little bag I had made that would hang over my shoulder. And here I was on Lesbos gazing intently at another pocket, this time a waterproof one that held safe the most treasured(?) or maybe just essential, most needed belonging of those on a long journey, let alone a refugee in 2015... a phone. 39
This is the modern refugee crisis where the waterproof pouch is the essential pocket. I am thinking about ashes and family treasures secreted into pockets of those fleeing and I know here I will never know about the secret pockets and treasures, yet I am hoping they are somewhere and have not been washed away to sea….
Final thoughts Amazing, each time I am amazed. Ordinary human beings, give us this privilege. This space, this time together and we riff off and into each other’s words and lives/syncopation/rhythm. Why don’t they teach this in schools? This listening, this empathy, this aesthetic ethic of collaboration? Are we a multitude, she asks, or just a pocket?
Chapter six. Cozy Crimes and Deadly Deeds. Carol Laidler and Davina Kirkpatrick, with Sue Porter, Jane Speedy and Ann Rippin. Cozy Crimes was created by five women who knew each other, in one of their homes. This time there was no theme. Starting with a conversation that meandered, a moment of ignition. We sat and wrote, we read it out loud and passed it on, always to the same person next to us to take out a portion and write into it. From nothing the thoughts and words gathered, sparking new thoughts and memories; from small ripples, conversations, intricate interweavings. We continued with the writing, starting the next day with the visual playing and making. This cycle of talking or hearing spoken words and then writing into the space those words evoked, continued in several iterations, the subject of cozy crimes emerged through the talking/writing process and leaked into the making.
What became exciting were the shifts and changes, the echoes of recognition that one hears as the listener changing the angle slightly to add one’s own resonance; her writing of her memory became my writing of my memory, and then a further writing of memory. New shifts, subtle reimagining of experiences, palimpsests, exposing new angles, shimmering like a cubist painting.
How to read this text – Start where you like, read one column before another, read right to left or vice versa. We have placed a relationship between the columns, and the pictures but you may see another connection.
Welsh countryside with oak trees, sun pouring down the Usk valley. The sound of women sitting together writing, twenty-first century women earnestly tap tap tapping. ‘What are we doing,’ she asks, ‘just writing or doing collective biography?’i I have sort of forgotten the difference. Lost the plot, dropped stitches all over the shop. I realise I hadn’t given any thought beforehand to what we were going to write, or read, only to what we were going to eat and drink, and when I anticipated this event, I imagined only the process, not the outcome. I have been looking forward to the experience of writing and making together but have given no thought at all to the shared theme, which I have just assumed will emerge from this process of being together. What if it doesn’t emerge till Wednesday, I wonder? It will emerge we say, we trust, we hope. It has before, but will it be transformed by its transit from there to here? It’s here in the folds – cozy crime ii/family murder/ deadly deeds/dis-location/ dis-placement/dis-tress. I keep thinking of the WI iii and meetings of formidable women who hold the community together through routine, dependencies and a capacity to dream, even when the dream plays out through a flower arrangement in an egg cup.
Five women came together to write. Who? artists-writersacademics-teacherswomen-curious-interested in thinking-interested in words. We sat and talked about a theme and didn’t find one but as we wrote the conversation bled into the words.
Even the definitions require teasing apart, labels to be troubled at, questioned, loosened with laughter.
A method we utilize – conversation/ writing/ reading/ editing/ conversation/ writing/ reading/ editing repetition as method. Iteration as ‘guided rediscovery’ (Ingold, 2000/01), and as he says, ‘But each retracing is an original movement, not a replica’.
Today the hedges gave up a variety of flowers and fruits to dress the house, a welcome, evidence of thoughtfulness. I notice what it feels like to trust another to choose and arrange them. To know how much it means not to be able to check the towels and how they lie on the bed, to straighten the bottom sheet, to place the vase where it catches the eye and the light. How hospitality is enacted, laid down in a myriad of tiny choices that started to be made weeks ago. We disconnect from there to assemble here, overcoming obstacles small and larger. Emerging into a place that wants to be found. Finding a mirror in each other. An adventure too risky to those left behind. Out of earshot, but very much in mind. Last week with my girls deconstructing the home, picking through the bones of our family. Tensions run high, we snarl at each other, recrimination and resentment. I behave badly, we all behave badly and I am the worst. I feel blamed for the disintegration of a marriage I couldn’t keep whole, blamed for the breakdown of the home, for the crumbling of the insulation in the roof, the piles of dust and rubble in each corner of the attic, for the rats that have infiltrated the roof tiles and chewed bags of soap and old cosmetics and shredded boxes of books that I left on shelves a decade before,
Over the gathering, comfortable and gemütlich and hygge as it is, hangs the thin miasma of doing it right. In later summer and early autumn in Britain there is often a thin mist in the morning, which hangs low blotting up the thin sunlight. Then the sun burns it off and we have a glorious day of golden light and brilliant blue skies. Our hovering mist is the fantasy of doing it right or getting it right, being right, being wrong, being good enough. I wonder how we position and pin not only ourselves but each other in the assumptions and adornments of expertise or novice. Even the old stagers begin by invoking Frigga Haug (1987) as our muse. What would Frigga do? What question would she frame to get us addressing the issues we want to explore? How could she help us to creep up on ‘it’ from some oblique angle, catching it unawares before it has time to shoot back into its burrow or allow us to slip and shift sideways?
‘Completion’ – in an incomplete house.
shat-on memorabilia. The bags and boxes are carried down and dumped in the front garden in a great pile till there are enough to fill the car and ushered to the tip: book to paper, metal to metal, wood to wood. This is the burial of our family home, the interring of the stuff. Where are you to gather up the cables, the connecting devices with unrecognizable uses? In one corner you’ve left the remains of an entire feature-length film, boxes of inflammable materials regardless of safety. No taking care there. We all know that the boy is a dog whereas the girl is a bitch, a bloody conniving, nagging bitch who asked for it. A dog in the night-time,iv perhaps? A bitch in the daytime, for sure. We also know what the boydogboy means to her. He’s enabled me to stay still, at home, given another context to the presence of absence of the dead man. The sound of Radio 4v quietly bearable again.
I notice a tentativeness coming and going as we start/stumble… lurching into eloquence in our talk and then in our writing. The tyranny of getting it right is strong as our different experiences meet together, fantasies of how tightly any other could be holding to (a version of) the form, fears of not being rigorous enough, of not being fluid enough, of not being enough. Do men write like this when they write together? – on reflection I’m wondering about gender and confidence, and hoping that they too get lost, wander away from academic certainties into the messiness of stumbling and stuttering, of Sartre’s (1956) becoming…
I was warned once by my friend, Naughty Tina that I was turning into a Dog Woman. ‘Look at your scrubbed face,’ she said, ‘Get some Parallel Redvi on and find some heels.’ Dog. She’s a dog. Not what you want to hear. I wanna be your dog somehow has a different nuance when sung
by Iggy Pop.vii The visiting dog has scentmarked six times. Unable to settle, connected across space, we all have to keep moving, as if kinetic energy can safely simulate a life well spent. Turn around three times, touch the table, cross your fingers, cross your toes, focus on the reuniting, not the imagined catastrophe Losing your dog will do that to you. Folk magic, White magic as she was taught to call it in the sixties. In times of great loss she prays to Saint Anthony. She lost her dog when he was quite young and wandered off. Panic welled up in her. Sympathy, feeling with that dog and for that dog and smudged and distorted when he wasn’t there. She prayed to Saint Anthony, ‘You bring me my dog back,’ she bargained, ‘and I will give something to charity.’ She walked on maybe 50 yardsviii and there was her dog, placidly paddling in the shallow river, looking up at this mad woman gasping, on the brink of weeping. He was back in sight. Back on visual. Back on the grid.
For me, coming into this writing at this time from a former position of ‘old stager’: a veritable doyenne of the processes of collaborative writing and collective biography, not to assume any ‘established’ cloak of authority or position of leadership in this activity, but to come to this practice anew and fresh, donning a mantle of naivety and curiosity is very liberating. Each time we engage with this process the experience is different, so coming to it in an unknowing way is, after all, not an act of subterfuge, but rather a performance of life from a place of shifting, uncertain, unfixed thinking and being.
Saint Anthony was not on my grid, so I looked him up on the net: St Anthony of Padua, born in Lisbon in the thirteenth century. Well dead then, but patron saint of lost things nonetheless. I don’t really understand about saints, only a string of
prophets with beards, begetting their way round the middle east. Family configurations Murder investigations A murder of crows A parliament of rooksix A gaggle of quilters And a cauldron of spooks Patchwork quilting us Murderers’ guilt A bag full of mending Our stories extending Dislocated, displaced Unrelated, unchased Related unchaste. Stop! A grandmother who was never married An acre field that was never ploughed A stream not dammed A family photograph of a wedding That was not a wedding Teaches not to assume the missing groom A scrapbook not for shredding Lurch in the stomach recognition A tatter, an echo of conversation One people, one party and all one nationx Ah yes the gentle bubbling of conversation That circled through and danced a rhythm A rhythm echoed in the clicking of keys Sitting with laptops on their knees A rhythm of five very much alive Older women Writing Being Laughing Palpable intensity and focus Shared propensity to find
Even when I teach these forms I lose my way back to what I have known … I start as a beginner, not knowing. How do I hold myself to the best of not-knowing, the open moment for creating, while not getting so lost I lose the rest of the tribe who at this moment are looking to me to show the way, before they gain some sense of their own way, as they will once the process overwhelms that doubting part of them and sweeps them up on a thrilling tide of their words melting into our words?
Being a new person, means being a follower (a leader in disguise?) not taking responsibility, playfully playing, throwing words up into the air and seeing where they land. Being new means everything is possible, fresh thoughts, new ideas, tackling what is allowed. Or it means doing everything wrong, tripping up the process,
the locus A quilt with a graveyard appliquéd in the centre A coffin pinned on to be sewn on the quilt A quilt-maker riddled with murderous guilt Did the dying person know they Were pinned like a butterfly? Poised, waiting for the moment when The passing could be marked Did they know this was happening And were they narked? The pin already chaffing their shoulder blades A circle of women sitting round sewing As the sunlight on the Usk was gently glowing Cosily communing, murderous importuning Here now sitting in a circle, despite our reservations, lifting the shears to cut the cord, tying in a loose thread. Words like blades carving meaning, tapping out the stories of our lives instead of fabric, pins and thread. Her Granny’s uncle committed a murder and was transported to Australia. My mother’s quilt was transported to Australia and transformed. Returned in a large box, a different quilt. Who knew the quilt? Where is the haptic memory of drawn threads, raised padding, the catch of silk on skin, the dusty suede of washed cotton? Who knows where the original now lies, folded or lain out on the bed of a woman that my father desired. A bed for
adding weights to something that could fly. Lying below is a range of constraints about not wanting to dominate, not wanting to be too big, or too loud, taking care to be generous with the listening, with the responding, not wanting to step with heavy boots over other people’s creative process. It’s the expert within each of us that is laying down the rules.
For others, the assumed expertise of the three women who had done this before and published the results erected itself like a picket fence. Not electrified and razor-wired and impassable, friendlier and with gaps, but a barrier all the same. They must know what they are doing. They must know what the end result should look like. This barbaric dashing through the precious texts, slashing and burning as they go, must be valid. They must know what they are doing. I sit in the room with wisps of paper collecting round my feet, watching them fly off our texts as delete buttons slice into them like buzzsaws and planes. Curls of text skim into the air and land quietly at my feet. How to do this… how to do
one, transacted for favours. Evocative objects,xi even the wrong quilt can’t be let go of. Discarded but transformed, a conduit of broodiness. Dislocated. Lost. Fabrics woven with stories navigating continents. In this is a beginning.
it well… how to be me, and us…
The Guardianxii runs a feature on a woman recently widowed who has cut up her husband’s shirts and sewn them into a quilt. “How marvellous,” they gasp, “how inventive.” Quilters sigh and roll their eyes. Women have always done this. And some have just cut the collars from the shirts of adulterers prior to throwing them out of the window. If I cut up your shirts, as you expect me to do, what pattern would you like? Crazy Anne? Old Maid’s Puzzle? Robbing Peter to pay Paul? It will be blue and white because that is what you wear. Tiny florals on pure cotton. I could kiss you. Exactly what I need. I should kiss you, then. Kiss you while you are alive. Blue and white quilts betoken the nineteenth century temperance movement. The irony will not be lost on either of us. I will call them indigo pieces. I will remember days dyeing indigo. Always sunshine, because only in sunshine does the chemical magic work. The olive green giving way to the rich indigo blue. Magic. Practical magic. Shibori. Japanese indigo dyeing intricacy. Hundreds of tiny rubber bands alchemising
Five women came together to write. Who? artistswriters-academicsteachers-women-curiousinterested in thinkinginterested in words – white – middle aged. Are we middle aged? At what age does middle age merge into old age? Can I use the word white without evoking notions of privilege? These words are not casual descriptors. How do I start to define who I am without falling into someone else’s preconceptions of what that means? When you look at me who do you see? I don’t stand for, represent, constitute, delineate, embody, signify…
cloth into bursts of stars on that inked background. You are everything to me. I have never been to Japan, but if I had, I would have wanted it to be with you. A thousand stars and you.xiii Loss is a deadly, cruel, crushing thing. I have a life stuffed full of things, pressed down, pushed in, heaped up again. At the centre a hard kernel, a peach stone of loss. A loss so leaden that I don’t even realise I carry it. Give in, lean back, hold on to me, to you floating like a mote of dust in sun shining into the room floating like our minds sifting through words on a page connecting my life with your life my memories with yours. Loss comes like a thief in the night. Sudden violent theft/gone now/dissolved. If you’re lucky it will leave behind a scent like a serpentine trail of Chanel No. 5. Poor dead Marilyn.xiv How much loss in that brief life. She scent-marked the psyche, swirling round notions of femininity, contested or not. Sudden violent death, leaving its stain, leaving its scent, leaving a wardrobe full of clothes to scratch and sniff.
197 I don’t want to set down middle-aged. I’m old. I want to be recognized as old. I don’t see why I should wait until I’m 67 to get into the old category just because that’s when this particular government has decided I’ll get my old age pension. I’m old. Over 60 is old. I am 62. That is by any culture’s standards in the last third of my life. In the UK the average female lifespan is 85 years. I am old. I am an old European woman. Stuff the ‘Brexiteers’ and the government. I’m in the last third of my life. This ageing process is a source of some anarchic satisfaction to me. I don’t want to be in the middle, I’ve never claimed the middle ground for anything not politics, not family dynamics. I have always gone too far…. And now I’m heading right for the end.
The visiting dog has scent-marked six times. We have all been scentmarked by men one way or another. “I only meant to burn his feet so that he couldn’t run after me,” says the woman whose husband had burned her face with the iron as she did his work shirts. Scent-marks fizzle into brands. She burned him in his bed to a crisp. Premeditated murder was the verdict. No one seemed to question how the scent led him to do the scalding and the punching and the raping in the first place. It is exhausting, the washing off the smell every morning, only to have it return by night.
Who do I think I am? Scholar activist, crip, writer, maker, friend … and at what stage in my life? One hour an adolescent, later a creaking ancient, another adrift in the middle somewhere … We sat and talked about a theme and didn’t find one, but as we wrote the conversation bled into the words, and flowed onto paper in writing, printing, drawing and kissing.
Do I refuse the scent marking? I loved that salty smell, rubbed my face in it, enjoyed the purity of his unwashed sweat, no soap, no perfume. Once lovers would court and woo by taking a slice of apple, dance with it slipped under their arm pit, give it to their loved one to remember them byxv, to gulp a case of youxvi. And my daddy’s mother/ standing there in her family-quilted photograph/ a performance for the neighbours callous/ keeping a stiff upper lip/ hard faced and stern/ growing a callous over the rub … Family murder/
What mechanisms do we have to learn to command respect from the group? Is it
recriminations/ crime thrillerations Passive aggressive/ layered misreading/ misconceptions/ half-truths/ half-lives/ Nana’s uncle’s murder/ cozy crimes hidden in the silences between/ deadly deeds.
found in the spaces in between, the fissures where no one wants to squeeze themselves, the articulation of the unacknowledged?
Here in the shadows falling down the Usk,xvii the male moles leave their runs, starting the spotting of the green field with brown hills made from desire and the usual greed; ravenous and lonely moles looking to be the daddy. There is a particular companionable thickness between us, before the measuring begins, the jostling of ideas and the cool turning of words into wonders, amongst which we/she wanders.xviii So much before us, that will slip sensitively into shared sense, nonsense, new sense. We are the demographic referred to as ‘older women’ but so far the sagacity talked of in myth and fable has eluded us. What our gatherings lack in dignity, they make up for in fits of girlish giggles.
I am not expert at typing, my fingers stomp out my thoughts slower than most. My mind chews my thoughts slower than most. It is not a race, she thinks as the one-minute-left is called. This is a chance to play and be joyful.
Crones, turning the cards The hanged man Death The tower Their cheating husbands discarded Not recycled Or maybe quietly turning into mulch For the garden they plant Dealing effortlessly with the fall-out
Of family drama by Stitching Pinning Shearing Not like us. I have a new mother, I like her more than the old dead one. Who will they like more than me when I am old and dead, I wonder? And what happens to those of us with no daughters to remember us if the dead don’t die till we do. A new family configuration, a breath of fresh air as yet untangled threads, not impenetrably knotted: new dramas, new kitchens, new sinks.xix
What are the threads that connect? Are they tangled, messy Like the strings in a greenhouse Suggestion of runner beans once grown and eaten. Will they still be there when we are dead? A scaffolding without the core of life. Is there always a better place waiting somewhere? Are we there yet? Is this it? Are we here ‘looking for the blue’xx in this green valley? And we have given ourselves longer this time, another kindness, for our writing into each other’s writing, tapping away together. Yet all time periods feel the same, the minutes slippery and elastic, stretching and springing back. Older women writing
together and then quilting our writing together again and again. We are engaged in a kind of smocking process with each other’s words – I am taken back to the first year needlework classes with Mrs Wood, with whom we learned smocking. I was called up to the front, to show my grubby, unevenly pleated crumpled work, as an example of what not to do. Mrs Wood scissoring-into her class, cutting down the less than adept, contemptuous of difference and the struggles to find the pattern into which to mould oneself, the mould into which to con-form. And it’s the con we are good at too, the ‘just enough’ to pass as something ‘other’.
Taking care, care-taking, curating, editing. A memory that came earlier, fleeting now, leaving just a trace. A flutter at the corner of the eye. Don’t turn your head, let the sensation form.
Endnotes: i. Collective biography is a research strategy that works with memory; its roots can be traced back to the work of Frigga Haug and her collaborators (1987). It is a set of research practices that engages in a movement away from individualized, liberal-humanist versions of the subject, toward a post-structural conception of the subject – a subject-in-relation, in-process (Davies & Gannon, 2006). ii. Cozy crimes are a subgenre of crime fiction in which the sex and violence is less evident or treated humorously and are often set in small, socially intimate communities. The detectives tend to be female. iii. The Women’s Institute was formed in 1915 with a remit of involving women in food production during World War One and improving rural communities. It is now the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK with 6,300 local groups and 220,000 members. iv. Haddon (2003) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. v. Radio 4 is a radio station owned and operated by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes including news, drama, comedy, science and history. vi. Parallel Red is an Estee Lauder lipstick. vii. I wanna be your dog is a 1969 pop song by the American rock band The Stooges, with Iggy Pop on vocals. viii. 50 yards is 45.72 metres. ix. A Rook is a part of the crow family distinguishable by its bare grayish-white face, thinner beak and peaked head. They are very sociable birds, rarely seen alone. x. David Cameron, British Prime Minister from 2010 to 2016 used this phrase from Sybil the mid-nineteenth-century novel by Diserali in his first Queen’s Speech after taking office. xi. This phrase is used by Sherry Turkle as the title of her book that looks at “objects as a companion in life experience” (2007:5). xii. The Guardian is a British newspaper, whose readership is generally considered on the mainstream left of British political opinion (www.theguardian.com/uk). xiii. A Thousand Stars and You, a novel by Isabelle Broom about friendship and adventure in Sri Lanka. xiv. Marilyn Monroe said in an interview that what she wears to bed is a few drops of Chanel No. 5 (Marilyn and No. 5 – Inside
Chanel, 2017). xv. This old Austrian custom is noted by Benjamin Brody in his paper ‘The Sexual Significance of the Axillae’. xvi. A case of you is a song by Joni Mitchell from her 1971 album Blue. xvii. The Usk valley is in Monmouthshire (now within Gwent), Wales. xviii. ‘She wanders/wonders’ is the title of a short film made by Davina Kirkpatrick as part of the PhD Grief and Loss: Living with the presence of absence, a practice-based study of personal grief narratives and participatory projects. The idea for the film was seeded at a collaborative writing group in 2012. Also see the paper Inquiring into Red/Red inquiring (2013). xix. The phrase ‘kitchen sink dramas’ was coined in the 1950s and early 1960s to describe a British cultural movement that used a style of social realism in theatre, art, novels and plays to depict the domestic lives of predominantly working-class people to explore controversial social and political issues. xx. The title of an article by Ruth Levitas, ‘Looking for the Blue: The necessity of Utopia’.
Part four Coming Together and Falling Apart.
Introduction to part four. Jane Speedy. Part four of this book examines the collaborative processes of mourning and moving on with life, both for this group of people and this genre of work. Chapter seven, ‘Remembering Sue’, explores a presence of absence that exists in the restorative space of mourning that took place between “that 212 which was lost’ and ‘that which continued to exist’ in this group of inquirers (Kirkpatrick, 2017). In remembering or re-membering our friend and colleague Sue in an artful and collaborative way that honours both her absence and presence in our midst, we offer our readers a different practice of re-membering to established Western traditions of ‘coming to terms with things’ (Speedy, 2008:137142). Carrying a similar sense of absence and presence, chapter eight looks at the contexts and atmospheres in which this kind of work might take place within the academy. This book is regarded almost as a ‘swansong’ for the collaborative, artful inquiry-making that has emerged from the University of Bristol. At the same time this juxtaposition of ideas and practices has been taken up, and continues, elsewhere – in particular at the University of Edinburgh. This artful combination of more-than-human ideas and more-than-‘academic’ practices and practitioners has a tendency to emerge and develop in collaborative atmospheres of attunement and affinity rather than of institutional hierarchy (see: Manning and Massumi, 2014), which is a difficult, but not impossible, environment to create within, betwixt and between twenty-first century communities and academies. These ways of working, and the ethical know-how that emerges with them (Speedy, 2012), are never long-lived. They do not ‘belong’ anywhere or to any particular body or bodies, they are, rather, more of an intentionally ‘pop-up’ presence with a built-in sense of their own absence and obsolescence.
Chapter seven. Remembering Sue: Last Writes. Davina Kirkpatrick, Mike Gallant, Alys Mendus and Tessa Wyatt with Melissa Dunlop, Carol Laidler, Artemi Sakellariadis, Jane Speedy and Jonathan Wyatt. Sue Porter, 1954-2017, succeeded by her husband Glenn Hall, her brother Philip and her little old mum up in Minchinhampton; two red dogs, Morgan and Eric; multitudes of friends, colleagues and students; a murder of crows, a flight of cormorants and a gaggle of artful collaborative inquirers. She left behind a number of electric wheelchairs, many scarves, piles of modernist jewellery and paintings, a many-windowed house overlooking the Usk, and a vast open space in which to write, make art, take off our clothes, make love by still waters, and dance.
Friday 24th November 2017: 6:20pm In the sterile room; it’s the lights more than anything, the ticking clock, the uniform chairs, the green baize notice board marked only with drawing pins. We crack the silence with nervous jokes and Jane stands to make a diagram of the history of this thing that has brought us here. Of Jane and Sue and the development of collaborative writing; it spills excitedly on to two, three, four, five pages. Tess and Davina hold the sheets and then we talk. I need to care about something. Where does emptiness come from? How can it be so noisy? I do care about being here remembering Sue; holding the presence of her absence. I have cried in this room before. I’m part of this history that Jane told, interleaved and interwoven with these people present and these people absent, some dead. I remember the first time I met her. I was looking for a doorway, an opening to the next place, the next journey, or was it the continuance of the present journey?i It was dark outside and the lighting was dim in the room. There were biscuits. There was Sue’s presence. She was talking but I felt more she was
listening. Didn’t she have a thing she did with her eyebrows? That made the presence of the unspoken thoughts clear. As if she were listening with her eyes.
Dear Sue, This time we started with a talk about ‘white running man’ii which would have amused you as a white woman on wheels ....I did not bring a wheel chair because the electric one is broken, and I hate being pushed around. I hate being pushed around. But now I am here I have remembered how much walking there is. They have replaced the pee-able carpeting with wooden flooring in most places, although there is still carpet for cripples to pee on in our work room.iii Why am I telling you all this? Because now I am here I think I might cry unless I maintain a chatty tone. I missed you doing the ‘you and me’ presentation. I miss you at the university. I miss you at the café. You’re here, You’re here in the talk of lemon curdy pudding,iv here in the image of your chair that could rise to great heights. You’re here in the sound of your voice; its dry, deliberate wit. You’re here in the circle in this room, like you were five or six years ago, writing and making red with us all (Gale et al., 2013).v You’re here in other ways, other ways I have forgotten; here in the missed opportunities, the moments we didn’t linger, the time we didn’t get. You’re here in a regret, you’re here in how you brought us together, you’re here, you’re present, even in your ... No, I’m not going to say it. I refuse. It’s just too obvious, even if it is true, and I refuse. You’re here and that’s it. You’re just here. And I am aware, in this room with its Flotex carpet, that although you would be pleased I stood firm alongside the word cripple, you would have noticed, maybe you even have noticed, that we have started once again, with the writing, not the making … I see no reason why art and making cannot exist without words, for instance ...
There is no one recipe for memorialising a life. No manual for reconstructing the shattered narratives of lives that have intersected with the one whose body no longer responds in the old expected ways. When the breathing stops. When the heart. Out of the blue. From a cloudless sky, shattering the predictable news of the day. Of course, there are the cultural rituals: the funeral, a religious service perhaps. But how does a collaborative writing group, a loose collection of academics, educators, 222 artists; how do we, as such a band of sisters and brothers, gather our grief; re-member? This chapter is a record, in word and image, of our gathering for Sue (and most certainly also for us), when we came together to create our own unique eulogy, to discover how our paths might move on beyond this fracture in our lives. Yes, this work is in a sense a signpost, a signpost at a major junction of loosely trodden tracks, of the muddy doggy fox-runs that were, are and will be our lives. At the end of November 2017 we had come back to Ammerdown, that familiar retreat in the southern English countryside where most had been many times before, with the intention of celebrating a life and exploring the nature of personal and shared grief; of how that might be expressed through collaborative art-making and writing. This chapter follows a loose chronology (inevitably fragmentary) of a long weekend of discovery, the traces of experience of a very particular collective biography, grieving Sue. (Writing written retrospectively is in bold). Saturday 25th November 2017: 4.45 pm What did Sue like? The art materials were spread around the room. Crows, votive legs and trees, red dogs and knickers. I fell into my recent safe way of working with silhouettes and paper cuts. Then tried the mono printing - not splashing large amounts of teal paint around the room, but carefully adding a thin layer of black onto a piece of perspex. The magic happened as I learnt how to use the process. Circles of crowsvi (small, medium and large) appeared; crows on magazine paper, text, printing with thick black paint, thin black paint, layers printing crows, ghosting shadows, burnishing
edges, scribbling nonsense. I remember how you challenged me. I always started, you said, with words, with the talking, then the writing, never the making, and how you quoted the a/r/tographers (Springgay et al., 2007) that I gave you to read right back at me. Loss, shift, and rupture are foundational concepts or metonyms for a/r/tography. They create openings, they displace meaning, and they allow for slippages. Loss, shift, and rupture create presence through absence, they 223 become tactile, felt, and seen. (Springgay et al., 2005) And you have been here in the process of making; making has absorbed you. It is the making that makes this a different kind of remembering: remembering from all the talking and writing and gatherings of people that have gone into the other memorials. It was mentioned that Sue liked looking at cormorants drying their 'wing pits' and how she would sit for hours at a window in Laurghne watching them. Cormorants are not as easy to draw as crows. The white paint stuck to the masks, the colours were wrong, the shapes looked like double-headed Nazi eagles. The birds were fighting me, refusing to play nice. Be intuitive, don't worry about mistakes; go with it! I tried a knicker mandala – which had to become a thong, and a lot of cormorants went in the bin. Jane’s poem crept on to some crows. Dropped dead, silence, No more chats, An empty space where you used to be Empty, loss. A lot of cormorants are in the bin. I can’t find the art work that I did for you this morning. If I could find it. If I could find you. I have used A3 paper. Or card. Card I think. You needed A3 space, I felt. She liked looking out the window along the estuary – the picture of the red dogs, alert sentinels commanding the road. She liked watching cormorants lifting their wings, Patti Smith and Patti Smith concerts, votive legs and silver brooches and modernist
paintings and mid-century furniture. She wanted to bring the outside in. She liked crows, crows in the branches of the trees, black against the sky. She had a dead crow roadkill frozen in her deep freeze and she asked me if I knew a taxidermist. I did, as it happened, and I sent her the email, but it didn’t work out. I’m not sure why, only that the crow was still in the deep freeze when she died and at some point the deep freeze was moved and left unplugged for four days before it was remembered, too late for the crow.
but we still don’t have you, we still can’t get you back, no matter how much beauty we make … no matter how many crows, cormorants and red dogs we make … we can’t make you…. The thing is, I didn’t really ever know Sue – sure, we shared spaces, wrote into one another’s words and images, blasphemed together, posed together, passed through the same doors. So now, when I seek out what or how to express ‘Being with Sue’, I feel stuck on what is the nature of knowing! The group breathes in and out, here in the room, our words bouncing and echoing from one image, one story to another, a giving to, an offering, a lighting up, an illumination, a shedding light, a listening, a remembering. So the tree chose her today and she felt comfortable to go with the flow and see where that would take her. She had cut out some more images of trees, and the word ‘breathe’ because what it said underneath went straight to her heart. And then she instantly regretted the resonance, realising that this is not about her. And when later her feet had taken her outside to the leaves and she was no longer thinking about a collage, she still looked for ‘Breathe’, still wondering how she could weave that in, thinking she wanted to will the leaves to breathe themselves back into life, or her friends to will their missing friend back in their midst, keeping her alive in the stories they tell and the art that they make …. I am Gesso, all thick and white Like a smutty putty, I am slathered all over somebody’s old images Leave me to set You do not care as you slop me on, leaving remnants
smeared on blue plastic cloth I wait The heat of the room, the busy-ness of the bodies intensely doing, mixing, rolling, splatting, washing up Someone returns to me. Wetting the paper and rubbing inexpertly at the paper, again and again, rubbing and shredding the milky white back of the paper into worms, with my fingers again and again, my impatience scrubbing through the layers of paper, gouging holes, scarring tears. Sue had more delicacy and much more patience, much more care. Or rather I imagine she did.
I keep starting and erasing the words. What if I don’t write? I’m thinking about Sue writingvii about stopping before the allotted time, allowing herself to stop, to not be the good girl, to not fill the space. I liked when the room was set up, before the making began full of potential and possibility and then the shared play. I can’t seem to do this, pull myself from image to word. I think I’m going to fail this time round. Sue would have written beautifully and lyrically, noticing the shifts in energy between us, the nuanced details, noticing the unnoticed. How to use this process? What process? What constitutes collaboration, collaborative writing? I want to write into the personal emotion, to open my own explorations of self and other to that melding, mixing metamorphosis – that metabolism on the contact boundary as Fritzviii would have it. Just as we thought to take a walk on the wilder side of the fence over the stile and far away down came the hail in little jewels and shut out the sun Just as well we explored the labyrinth in the dewy, shaded endings as down came the hail in little jewels and shut out the sun the ending ….
Now, the red leaves fall and in the gasping last gusts the feather black bin bag ripped, recycled, barbed and caught on the wired boundary fence shaking, rattling and rolling – a balancing crow hanging on against the last storm waiting for the new moon energised, wounded, unwounded, confused and darkly black in the low light of autumn silhouette So Sue, that is how I wanted to know now how to know you amongst the falling November leaves. The day Sue died we were in northern Vietnam. An idyllic wooden hut overlooking the paddy fields It poured with rain We had sex. Ventured out a little bit on some wonky pushbikes along paths cut into the edges of the flooded fields Soaked to the skin we peeled off our clothes Had more sex And some more Sated, we slept in the next morning Next day, I was first up and pulling back the mosi net I flicked open my laptop to see what was going on in the world And saw Glenn’s postix A sense of free-fall So far away. I got pregnant that day and for a while I felt like there was some balance in the world – one in, one out And then I wasn’t pregnant any more And Sue still had gone … One in, one out. Tired tears gathered and fell as they spoke of satiated sex, procreation and loss upon loss. Collaborated felt sensex spilled in the space between – the Flotex could take the strain – encouraging Sue to join us, emergent amongst our art materials and images. Layers of print, traces of previous transfer created, rolled and revealed. Life leaving embers while
ashes blow in the wind, these bellows of creative endeavour feeding the glowing fires of re-membering. It takes some energy, this spiriting of time together, of bringing the past and wrapping it carefully in the present. I imagine this rubber-sheet plane of my present moment shaped, contorted by the intervention of the experienced, and yet unseen presence of Sue passing through, stopping in that instant before moving on, tossing vitality affect (Stern, 2004) through the folds of time. This weekend your hand resting warmly in the small of my back is sorely missed I miss you I miss your gravelly soft voice making a sardonic comment here and there I miss your sideways glances twinkling across the room I miss those defining eyebrows.
So there you are; words are indeed obfuscating, and yet apparently less so than just images (that are unlanguaged? Is that a word?) The traces, the layers that print methods leave, the multiplicities of images. *** My dream in the night was of the labyrinth, built outside this place where we are staying, writing, creating, remembering Sue. But in the dream it had been built upon a swimming pool, as a means of filling in the space, of changing its purpose. It was only half built though and water seeped up around the stones, as if the decision to put it there was tentative, or recent, or an unhappy one. A single woman lived in the house, and looked back on the life within it, as she stared out of the back door toward the water-logged muddle, the rocky maze. She had arranged the changes that were made. They were to say that things were not the same, and would not be the same again. I watched the woman, me a floating dreamer, and her a solid, dark, rather curvaceous, painterly figure. If she was sad she did not want anyone to know that. She had decided not to be. And she was someone who believes such things can be decided. She had covered the pool with a labyrinth. A riddle to wander within, a spiritual journey, in place of the play the pool had signified, invited. All gone now; over with. I had arrived somewhere new, only to witness an ending.
*** Collaborative writing can be a messy business: hidden red lines in the sand may be crossed, and buttons pushed with explosive results. The dynamics of a supposedly leaderless and potentially rudderless gaggle of ‘creatives’ sparks with energy and potential. ‘Messiahs’ are thrown up in order to be shot down; a common enemy set against an indulgent and bountiful carer; the pre-conscious striving for trust and safety in a 228 single partner within a potentially dangerous tribe (Bion, 1961). There are the maintenance needs of the group and the individual needs of group members as well as the (apparently) agreed task we have set ourselves (Adair, 1973). We noticed how this time it seemed to be different. Put simply, we seemed to be getting on better together, supporting each other more in our explorations of grief. We are all here collectively together in Remembering Sue, knowing there are so many different ways to ‘know’ someone and somehow energetically giving space so that all have their own authentic experience with the ‘memory work’ (Haug et al., 1987). And as time goes on, for many it is through the art that we move forward, explore unspoken emotions, embody our own journey with Sue, now, then and in the future. I wonder if the art can give an illusion of an invisibility cloak (Rowling 1997), a place to play and print and make ... not give words. It is a new day. This morning we made art rather than words. It is a way of externalising our emotion, giving it distance so that we can look back at ourselves with some new perspective. Sue took herself to the thirty-second century to look back on her place in the twenty-first century (see earlier in this volume). We looked at visual images. Talking about our art-making we notice and put words to them. We talk about words; their impossibility, their irrelevance, their intrusion, their necessity. People feel differently. About words. And about Sue. But as we share what we have written, we begin to feel together. It begins to come alive, the grieving. And in coming alive we want to finish, to end for now, to shut it down, this emotion, this physicality, this visceral process. I wonder about the body; the asset that becomes a liability, all the more precious as
the vulnerability increases. It reminds us of Sue’s body, of pain, of carrying on. Until she didn’t. Sunday 26th November 2017: 10.45am This morning there was frost coating the cars outside a shock behind the curtain This morning at breakfast some told tales of evening encounters
This morning we found ourselves talking with yesterday’s pages and colours and textures between us a tumble, a weeping of love and joy and loss and struggle This morning, this slow-slipped morning this slow-slipped morning with Sue with Sue mourning Sue The art contains fragments; new ideas that contain something of the old. What was present peeling away, until the remnants slip to the ground, or blown away on the breeze, or simply aren’t there anymore. I think about the process of re-absorption, into the whole, of integration into us. I did not know what would happen when I offered up this process but I did know its potential for trace, repetition – 'yet each retracing is an original' (Ingold, 2000/01). Still stuttering. We are stuttering slowly forward as much as we are still. Still stuttering. There is much stillness in what happens here, much silence in our talking, which may get lost in the writing or in the doing; I counted thirty-five ticks at some point this morning, and if you add in the thirty-five tocks that is quite a long time for nine people to be silent.
I wasn’t expecting a writing retreat on remembering Sue to be so difficult. We gather and we talk, and write, and make art, as we’ve done many times before, all in Sue’s memory and yet we seem, more than a day into the retreat, to still be stuttering a slow way forward. Time past, time presentxi and time arsing about ... reflecting on images laid out.
In the ecotone, stepping through the no-mans-land Are we in the river or now in the estuary The marginal spaces Yet the motion from rolling, cutting, observing and the perspiration from practice Keeps going The energy changes The words shared earlier The grief left hanging in the air Now shaken slightly and becoming Rewritten Or re-drawn. Caught by the richness, the subtle connection of image and process but also how that process has shifted with each person, the ‘serious play’ (Schechner, 1993). The anxiety, the uncomfortable-ness, the frustration of working with and around people outweighed in this moment by the visual diversity, depth, texture, of multiples spilled over the floor. Most of our talking (and writing, and arting, and doing and playing) revolves around Sue, but it is ten months on from when she quietly slipped away and we occasionally acknowledge that this is happening today against the backdrop of other big things going on for us right now - and here we are, remembering Sue. Sue’s voice was one I admired so much. Quiet, beautiful, noticing the details, summing up. Being rude at just the right moments. The text message that pinged on my phone three weeks after you died, telling me how happy you were floating on the boat and how you’d eaten all the cake and can I just say I don’t believe in life after death but I knew it was from you anyway. DylanThomasyblackbroilingsortofaway, it’s all gone in an instant, in the wink of an eye, in a ping of a ring of a phone. And my mind fills with holes, cutout, cutup, and all the meaning
leaks out on to the Flotex. There is a sorrowful statue outside the Russell Room. It has been sitting there all on its own for years, its head bowed down, buried in its folded arms. The small fountain at its feet may have tried to cheer the statue up but by now it, too, has given up and stands still, its idle presence reminiscent of the jollity that might have once been. I want to bring the statue in, welcome it into our fold and ask it to write of its pain with us. It, too, has known Sue. I want to hug it, to make it feel better, but know it’s too 231 cold and set in its ways to lift its head up and smile. It’s hard grieving, delving, stepping into the space The void and getting lost there The art helps Slowly rebuilding life, diffracted slightly to what it was before Each print, and cut moving a step further out of the Emptiness A remembering and forgetting How long can a wake go on? Three days, ten chapters? A book and a year? As the hours passed with intense reflection by day and rumination by night, the supportive environment fed soul-searching and day-dreaming, and we sought familiar comfort blankets of our pasts. And yet we were not altogether calm and contemplative. There was an edgy energy, a dissonant tension, more within our individual bodies than between members of the group. We found ourselves digging into our own personal repositories of loss, trauma, passing and rupture. Searching for wholesome and satisfying gestalts, hoping in our structure-seeking minds to find a familiar pattern, a convenient suspension file in which to hold safely (in suspense) the truths of our intersecting experiences, to close the drawer of our filing cabinet long enough to take breath and re-energise our spirits. These personal patterns of grief and loss spilled into our writing, and we recognised how we were supporting each other, honouring the intensity of others’ grief, hearing with our open eyes and ears (and even our eyebrows perhaps?) the raw emotion of the words
we had scribed and subsequently read aloud to each other. These stories have not appeared in this narrative, for this is our biography of Sue, not a record of every word and image shared within that powerful long weekend. By attending to the needs of individuals and the group, recognising the inevitable dynamics of such gatherings and their developing process (Rogers, 1970), we were able to allow the intrusion of Sue into the images and words of our minds as we relaxed further into this ‘safe space’.
232 Sunday 26th November: 3.50pm Echoes back, echoes forward, life is a succession of moments I like the confusion - we are performing our loss. I tell myself off for allowing such a drift away from here and now, this collective of explorers into life and death. Sue found Jonathan in the wood today and got a lift back with him Stumbling through the sticky, clarty mud He almost fell over her He picked her up Unfurled her in the palm of his hand and holding her close Safely nestled her in his pocket for the long walk back to Ammerdown. Now she lies, still slightly sticky on the Flotex A piss-poor framing Straight legs Bent legs Blue legs So many legs A muddy path Somewhere a chair could not go Out-of-bounds to Sue once Was in bounds again Those legs Those dogs Sue On a walk? Echoes back, echoes forward
LOVE Love for Sue and for this process of collaborative inquiry I am seeing the magic begin to happen My hands are twitching wanting to be playing with the black ink To bring a dark, dusky agency to my side of the assemblage of art that grows in the centre of the room Inspired by others creations and words I want to make more Make more art 233 Make more meaning Into this space Echoes back, echoes forward Sue is lying on the floor, a little contorted, a black and white representation of her whole self. The Inspector takes a step back. ‘Where’s the evidence then, constable?’ he inquires. ‘What the fuck’s gone on here?’ ‘Well, that’s the interesting thing ma’am’, says the constable, ‘it appears to be still going on now!’ ‘Indeed …?’ ‘The protagonist, a label called Sue, has intervened in her own investigation and, to put it bluntly, I can’t help thinking we’re in danger of getting hoist on a petardxii or two …’ The inspector is shaking her head. ‘Come on constable,’ she says, ‘you know better than this – concrete evidence, concrete evidence is the name of the game. What are the objects saying to us; where are they? And where the fuck’s the CSI?’xiii ‘They came and went ma’am – said they couldn’t find anything that would stand up in court – said it’s down to us.’ ‘Typical – no-one taking responsibility, no-one got the answers – the label just appeared you said?’ ‘Yes ma’am, apparently just grew out of the soil underfoot!’ ‘Well, what the fuck now then?’ Echoes back, echoes forward I do like a good murder And so I learn did Sue A good Murder of crows
Echoes back, echoes forward Back in the room Jonathan tells us of how he found a piece of paper in the mud and he places it on the floor. It’s a sticky label with a hand-written S U E on it and we make another collective noise, this time an in breath, a taking in, a breath, a Sue breath.
He came back from the pub with you in his pocket. Carol came back from the woods with muddy dog paw prints right up her legs ... no I don’t want to tell you about what we’ve been doing, after all, if you still exist in any shape or form, you already know that. I want to ask you what you would do now … I’d suggest you’d stay with the confusion … you’d enjoy the confusion and smile, which would, about now, be giving you a bit of a headache. It’s interesting to see how different people respond to not knowing what the fuck to do, what the fuck is going on, and to wonder whether these are to do with what’s happening now, or to do with our personal and professional histories. Are we experiencing ‘disciplined’ confusions?
Sing a song of Ammerdown a pocket full of Alysxiv Four red dogs and 9 crows ate a lemon curdy pie When the pie was eaten the birds began to sing Oh wasn't that a collaborative dish to set in memory of Sue Sue was in her heaven house looking out the window Jon was in the Kitchen eating all the food The maidxv was in the garden hanging out the knickers When down came a cormorant and dried its wing pits
68 The surprising, even discombobulating, intervention of the still-sticky name label ‘SUE’ acted as an extreme example of the agency of objects. As it lay on the floor amongst our art-making its revenant power made more sense of our visceral experience, the felt sense of absence and the search for representative objects: an additional diffraction grating (Barad, 2003) through which to peer into the traces of Sue’s passing through us all. Sunday November 26th 2017: 4.40pm What is the nature of collaborative grieving? I am thinking about grieving, and the process of meaning reconstruction (Neimeyer 2002) and us here, trying to construct this process as we go. Should there be audio of this discussion now, to help us remember what to write? Sue did that. Sue’s input, missing, seems to call for some reconfiguration of the group. A reconfiguration not from what was but from what might have been. An imaginary present based on memories of how it has been. Gaps arise, unexpectedly, or perhaps they are obvious. What is happening
here today is we are carrying on. Without Sue. An expectation of going on being alive. Even though we know we will all die. How do we grieve? How do we remember? Are we doing it right? Are we doing it? Is this grieving? Is that the same as remembering Sue? And close around lurking just out of sight are other losses. Some are in the room, others unspoken still. Should we let them in? And then there is theory. The question of whether we ought to do this more properly. With some acknowledgement of theoretical, methodological ancestry. What would it be? A bit of this and that? How do we integrate 236 all this? Are we moving backward or forward? Is this moment part of it? And as I look again at the art on the floor I am aware of the energy being evoked. Grief - what does it look like? Enrobed in grief Like a coat? Or encased in warm, sticky pudding Hard to write now. We speak here of loss and pain and we know little of each other. We are strangers. I realise I know nothing of you, or you of me. Yet my heart leaps with sadness for each of your losses, each of your sadnesses. We are here to mourn not one death, not one loss, but many. All the liquid in my body is gathering towards my eyes and nose, a pouring out and a dribble. We are speaking of loss and uncertainty, of not knowing, of the sadness we carry and what more we will certainly meet. It is what it is to be alive. And words don’t and pictures don’t and tears don’t. And even this feeling that is my feeling about you doesn’t. I miss you. I am wearing the earrings I bought in Spain because they reminded me of yours and yesterday I asked Glenn if I could have your silver leafy earrings because then I would have something of yours to wear things these are not just things they are YOUR things they have their own agency they have a particular power, a materiality, a secret multi-storied life of their own
These kind of ideas are talked about these days by the likes of Braidotti (2006) and Barad (2007), as post structuralist, post-human ideas; they are referred to as the ‘new materialities’... but their substance carries traces of very old ways of knowing about the power of things. A continuity, a multiplicity, a liveliness, a loveliness, a loneliness, a gathering sense of being held in a shared space, ships passing in the night, the green light blobs on the radar, just enough to know they are there now, and then gone, passing, 237 influencing our journeys without the crashing, crushing intersection of us-ness. I am moved by others’ emotive connections, and setting that against the humour inherent in my own ‘you’re in danger of going up your own arse’. They speak of ‘dark dusky agency’: it brings me in contact with the energy of the shadow and the illicit, the necessity of the hidden or the forbidden. Sue had access to that – a dark, dusky agency. I want to write about rituals, the ritual we are creating here – giving the time and the space to be, remember, laugh, cry, create. The spontaneous creation of ritual; the fears – that we don’t know, have forgotten, the way to do meaning-making rituals. I remember the bodily sensation – tentativeness, sensing and observing those around and of the power of being. I remember the tentative stepping into and walking the labyrinth. We all bring our assumptions, our own ‘rule book’ of how collaborative writing is done, based on past experiences and our daily work roles. A professional artist may privilege one aspect more than an academic or psychotherapist, may indeed remember differently ‘how it is done’. And yet there is an intense quality of attention when our purpose is shared. We do find that intensity alone, but there is the additional commitment, expectation and warmth of others being in the same physical space all agreeing to do this – to write and create, allow one’s thoughts and ideas to bleed into. To reverberate with, a recognition of tribe. One of our tribe is dead, others are absent. Adjusting to change is uncomfortable, spiked with ire and frustration, and weary acceptance that we are not in control. Might collaborative grieving simply be re-membering (Myerhoff, 1986; White, 1997; Hedtke & Winslade, 2004); reconfiguration of our
tribe? Monday Morning, November 27th 2017 This has all been written sitting on hard chairs or the even harder ground. I wonder how that has influenced our writing. But we’ve been here before at Ammerdown. That was a very intimate love making – no, love-aching – kind of process, for a Sue that was still alive and well.
238 Each of us holding other dead loves in our memories. Each step taking us nearer to our own death. Will you think of me? Will you think of we? Of us when we are gone?
So, to return to this last write – Sue, you, you a-part with us; what is the contract here? I didn’t get a chance to negotiate that before you went. You thrust me into this uncertain position of power. What is the dynamic of being amongst, of belonging without having material contact? What a simplistic view of material contact, and a glimpse of anger: ‘You thrust me …’ could be experienced as my lack of agency, I didn’t choose you to go, to leave. You had to leave it seems, only partially known, (how could it ever be otherwise?) You speak, mediated by strands of colour, swirling across paper, now digitized, ossified until corrupted in the Cloud or manipulated by hands of gods choosing how to see and how to hear and how to maintain a fluid homeostasis of this. The art I am making is me - but there wouldn't have been any crows if it hadn't been for this group, this time and Sue. There wouldn't have been the sticky, velvet black, the magic that happened as the factory art self-spun into action - dusky black had agency. I have been using so much colour recently it has been a refreshing contrast to use the black ink. To be searching through to the dark side, playing with the grief in the room, channelling it through a sticky, velvet, dusky black. Death and crows and Sue. The collaborative knot of entangled lives that is our existence. Touching upon, rubbing up against, influencing, nurturing, scarring, warming, changing; each one glowing for a moment, then gone, separately and together. This morning sometimes I heard people's words but they seemed to have too many different interpretations, not
necessarily those meant by the speaker. What does it mean to collaborate? I assumed we would write into the writing, write into the art. To merge and swirl the images into a coherent whole - my assumption. We’ve struggled over what it looks like to collaborate, what collaboration does; what erasures, what cuts, what belongings, what acknowledgements, we assume, make explicit, negotiate, concede. We’ve noted the significance of histories and their acknowledgements and belongings, their cuts and erasures. What’s here and not here. What’s lost. What’s retrievable. What’s redeemable. What’s not.
The parallel process of Melissa, who left early, speaking from the grave to those left behind …. I have a sense of privilege in being amongst the remaining, and also of being able to hear the voice of one who mourns the loss. Perhaps a sense of derealisation as I ponder over whether I am one of the dying or one of the living … and yet there is a part of me that wants to be clear that I am living because I am a-part. I am living because of my presence as a separate part. So to hear Melissa (mediated through time, space, the written word and another’s voice before I even get a chance to bend it to my own worldview), as apart from this collective, is at once confusing and valuable in order to define in some way the permeable boundaries of understanding, being and belonging. The pictures and the art equipment are all packed up Housekeeping has taken up most of the morning, we have been Clarifying the role of the group and Photographing the prints. I found talking as individuals about this harder than the writing, reading aloud and talking about Sue. I’d have liked to go to Sue’s house I heard so much about it And that stained glass window Their design growing in the artist’s studio The beauty of the window, the story that it captured That has agency and the window lives on and in and through Sue.
She is the window, but so is the artist and the glass And glass moves – slowly but over time it begins to slide, pool away Changing, living beyond the maker, the dream, the composition, Remembering with motion.
And that home, Sue’s home, Sue’s window changes As new people move into the space But the presence, the energy still seeps and flows The matter of the place, the home, the window, Sue, give agency to whoever lives there next. And my home I like the intrigue and the unexpected But not things or people dropping dead Drop, dead, gorgeous. Coda I have left the group early, re-entering the world of black country roads and city streets, children, a house that hasn’t been cleaned. I wanted to write again because now I feel like one of the refracted images from the floor. A crow? A dog? An old pair of knickers? I have enacted absence and yet I am still present somewhere in the world, still here to wonder if you notice the blank space I have left there. I realise now how deep we had sunk, how far into whatever it was, that we were. How closely we had edged up to the pain of loss. How we had, somehow, in that higgledy process, opened up a space for sharing in grief. And how hard it now is to explain that space I have been in, sharing. It felt simple. But here on the outside, it is quickly an experience that I cannot discuss. Here it makes no sense.xvi The gallows depths are close at hand and it is time to say whatever is left to be said. All of it. Out. Now. And tomorrow you will give it a final glance, one more going over perhaps, before you parcel it up, pack it away, stick it somewhere safe for when the next moment comes, the moment when you will take it all back out and try to understand it again. What is there? What is there? What is there?
Endnotes i. Sue organised the Open Space sessions of ANINET. ii. We were given a health and safety introduction from a member of the Ammerdown staff where the fire exit sign was referred to as ‘the white running man’. iii. Flotex carpet, popular some years ago as a hard-wearing, washable firm but ‘warm’ surface for domestic kitchens, also suitable for wheelchairs, children’s nurseries and art rooms. iv. Lemon Curdy Pudding: 2 large eggs separated, 55g self241 raising flour, 285ml milk, 55g butter, 115g sugar, lemon, grated rind and juice. v. A collaborative writing retreat happened in 2012 at Ammerdown. vi. Crows that make us think of the poet Ted Hughes’ crows and Max Porter’s poetic novel, Grief is the Thing with Feathers. vii. Sue writes about this experience in her notebook for her PhD proposal notebook. viii. Fritz Perls, the charismatic figure associated with the development of Gestalt Psychotherapy (see Perls, Hefferline & Goodman, 1953) ix. Email from Glenn Hall, Sue’s husband, January 10, 2017. x. Eugene Gendlin (1962; 1984), developing Carl Rogers’ humanistic understanding of human being, suggested that by focusing on the ‘felt sense’ we experience physiologically in our bodies we can access ‘the more’, the additional understanding of the nature of our moment-by-moment embodied existence normally kept outside of our immediate awareness. In the context of collaborative writing groups, see also the concept of ‘Gerald’ in Speedy, J. (2005) and broader concepts of co-presence etc. in Gallant et al. (2014). xi. This the start of a line from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets (2009/1943). xii. ‘Hoisted by one’s own petard’ is an old English saying that means injured by the device that you intended to use to injure others. xiii. Crime Scene Investigation. xiv. ‘Pocket’ refers to an earlier collaborative writing retreat where the theme was pockets (see Chapter 5 Pockets). xv. A Cornish term of endearment. xvi. We have struggled as to how to explain being here to those not? Note the implication that we are still ‘here’ that simply
slipped out of my writing consciousness. This retreating space in which we have all come forward and shared the intimacy and vulnerability of writing, listening, eating, being together. I think of the story Explaining death to the dog? (Perabo, 2000) – something that feels impossible. It will be in the words – an essence, a maturation of the experience of being together.
Epilogue. Jonathan Wyatt and Jane Speedy. It’s April 2020. Due to the spread of COVID-19 we, many millions of us across the world, are in what our governments are calling epithets such as ‘lockdown’, ‘rest in place’, or ‘stay at home’ regimes. In the UK the majority seems to accept it as in our best interests only to go out to brave the supermarkets or for a walk. We do not see our friends, we don’t go out to work, 245 we don’t visit any of the places that we are used to visiting and assume we have a right to visit. They are too far away or closed; restaurants, cafés, addresses, will continue to be for weeks. To leave home is to put ourselves and others at risk, we are told (and we, mostly, seem to agree). People are becoming sick, too many are losing their lives, the politics of inequality and injustice enmeshed in these risks, these vulnerabilities, these losses. The virus does not discriminate, but our systems and structures do. The people we laud for their service at this time and who are most at risk, like those who nurse us when we’re ill or serve us in supermarkets, are those we have taken for granted and pay less well. We are in a time out of place, a place out of time, a world disrupted, disturbed. Or it may be that that’s how the world was before: disturbed, disrupted, and, surely, unsustainable. Maybe the pandemic is our chickens coming home to roost, a fitting response to humanity’s hubris; and/or the pandemic and its impact is an opportunity for the world, for us, to pause, take stock, wonder and imagine how life could be otherwise, a demand we get out of ourselves and use our imagination. The universe is giving us another chance, one more chance, to learn. Perhaps. It feels fitting, poignant, to be writing this epilogue during the time of this pandemic, given how the introduction to the book was written during snowstorm Emma, the ‘beast from the east’, which meant the writers could not meet together as planned and were, in some cases, stranded, either in or away from their homes, isolated from each other. If we knew what was to come some years down the line, we would have been more grateful for how quickly that crisis passed.
The poignancy also connects with what makes ‘artful collaborative writing’, and what makes Sue Porter so much part of the lives of all of us who have contributed to this book. Writing, art, performance, and bringing these together as this book does (and as Sue did), are a way of challenging and disrupting the isolation of academic and professional work, and (as we are experiencing now, writ large) the isolation of life itself. Whether the artful collaborative inquiry has been undertaken by people in rooms together, the presence of bodies together key to what emerges, or by writers/makers exchanging their 246 material remotely in some way, connection, ‘flesh-to-flesh scholarship’ (Spry, 2001:726) is at the heart of the work and at the heart of this book. I am writing also at a time of personal disruption, where I am not living at home but in a nearby flat, the early days of an intimate world turning upside down, inside out. The view outside this Edinburgh window is different from the one I have become used to writing with. The cold April sun shines outside, a narrow band carving its way into the living room across the wood-laminate floor and the grey, unfamiliar rug. I haven’t been able to write for weeks, even months. Jane sent me a gentle nudge two weeks ago to say that if I had time for a project with Sophie Tamas at Carleton University in Canada collecting stories of living in the coronavirus,i which she’d seen I’d posted on Facebook, then might I not also have time for writing the epilogue to this book, which I have been part of from the start but distant from for too long. It is only today, a lockdown weekend in April 2020, where I have found the space to breathe and think and write. I have been reacquainting myself with this book during the past week in my new, temporary home. So much of the book is familiar from those occasions of being in the spaces and places the text takes us to. Ammerdown, Hawkswood, Fernhill, the top floor of the Graduate School of Education at Bristol. South-west UK gatherings of unruly, rebellious, lively, heartfelt, heartening, angry writers, artists and performers. I am nostalgic for those times when it was permissible for bodies not living together to share the same room. When it was possible for bodies to touch, as they do throughout this book. This is a book about collaboration, about the ethics and
aesthetics that are possible as we work and create together. Collaboration, and its ethics and aesthetics, was at the core of the Narrative Inquiry Centre (NIC) that Jane Speedy established in the early 2000s, and its life continues to be felt through the Artful Narrative Inquiry Network (ANI-Net). The NIC brought people together from Bristol, the south-west of England, the UK, Europe, and beyond; from many, varying backgrounds, professions and experiences. The centre brought us together, caught up those of us lucky to be around at the time (for me, it was when I was undertaking my doctoral programme, between 247 2004 and 2008) and took us flying and whirling in unexpected directions and to unexpected places. The NIC managed to find a place at the University of Bristol, an august, conservative, traditional institution, the centre both belonging in and challenging to the customs, practices and regimes of that body. The NIC took the university, and all of us, by surprise; it’s a tribute to the NIC that that ANI-Net continues and is still connected to the university; and it’s a tribute to the NIC that this book is possible. The NIC, ANI-Net, and this book all speak to how much we need each other, and will continue to do so, in our collective, uncertain future. Not only for support, for community, but in order to produce and create, and to do so not for the sake of meeting targets and institutional expectations but as an expression of the joy and pain of life itself: ‘And why am I so outcome-focused? Why do I believe this stuff is only, if and only if, valuable if it leads to an outcome? A three-star-plus paper. Look what they done to my soul, ma. Can I reclaim an embodied me in two days? Can I begin not to give a shit about the Academy which has been my home for twenty years in two days?’ (‘Riffing off Tami’,142). This book’s playfulness, its critical, lyrical, performative texts, reclaims the embodied scholar-practitioner-writer-artistperformer, and manages, at the same time, to give a shit. It gives a shit about what matters: “This listening, this empathy, this aesthetic ethic of collaboration” (‘Pockets’, 263). The work of the NIC and ANI-Net has found form, shape and energy in a more recent project in Edinburgh, the Centre for Creative-Relational Inquiry (CCRI),ii where artists, staff and students in the academy, and practitioners of various disciplines
are all, like the NIC, seeking to find ways to do scholarship differently. They are working at undertaking inquiry that places the relational at its heart, attuned to what does and doesn’t matter:
Because things happen – work, love, joy – through the relational. We are relational beings, and we are always already a part of larger communities of belonging and communities of practice, we just forget it. So … practicing creative-relational research in the academy can serve as an intervention that invites and rejects. That invites as it rejects. That performs a continuous movement of inviting-in-rejecting. Invites small, sometimes silent, encounters. Encounters that deepen our commitment to research that matters. (Harris, 2020: 16-25) CCRI seeks, as does this book, to offer ‘a space [and] time together [to] riff off and into each other’s words and lives/ syncopation/rhythm’ (Pockets). I think Sue Porter would have felt at home in CCRI, and with its aspiration for the thoughtful, present, personal, positioned, artful, collaborative, committed scholarship her presence brought over the years to the life of NIC. Following its inception in the early 2000s, the NIC was periodically ‘reviewed’ under Bristol’s processes, where the centre was assessed as to how it was performing against the set institutional criteria for research centres. These criteria prioritised neo-liberal, individualised, funding-driven measures of ‘success’, which made the NIC vulnerable. CCRI will be reviewed in the coming year, COVID-19 permitting, and its survival is also at risk. CCRI’s emphasis, like NIC’s, on the personal, the embodied and the relational does not easily lend itself to research grant success (although there have been significant ones). Our hope is that, whatever the formal outcome of the review, the power of CCRI’s work will continue to find its way, as with ANI-NET’s continuing presence, to bringing people together (remotely or otherwise) to create meaningful, artful, collaborative inquiries. *** An historical/conceptual and somewhat time-bending note for
thirty-second century readers from Seema Shrenk (in collaboration with the 3291 global archaeological symposium discussants and their body of work/work of bodies): the above epilogue by Wyatt was written towards the beginning of the first global COVID-19 outbreak, at some point in early-to-mid 2020, and is quoted ‘verbatim’ here. Wyatt is writing from Edinburgh, the then seat of the devolved Scottish (Alban) parliament. He is writing (unbeknownst to himself) several years before the time-of-the-disunification of the so-called ‘United Kingdom’; the collapse of the first incarnation of the European Union, and Edinburgh’s (now Dùn Èideann’s) rise to prominence in the great 249 post-colonial and inter-species land rights movements (in collaboration with the (then) peoples and creatures of Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotoarea (then Wellington, New Zealand). Wyatt was writing several decades in advance of the death (and sustainable rebirth) of the advanced capitalist economies. He shows some prescience in his comments about the second chances the universe was affording humanity during such times, but nonetheless, he refrains from straying into the adjacent territories of speculative fabulation (SF), and/or science fiction (Haraway, 2016) and from predicting the scholarly and globally sustainable cross-species collaborations of future symposia such as our own (Shrenk et al., 3291a). As was mentioned in the various layers of introductions to this book, the explorations into artful collaboration(s) presented in this volume were taking place at a time (the early twenty-first century) when the generation of impossibility(s) was a radical achievement and a minor gesture an often seen, but rarely cited (and barely sighted) occurrence (see: Manning, 2016).
Endnotes i. https://carleton.ca/emogeolab/coronotes/ ii.https://www.ed.ac.uk/health/research/centres/ccri
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List of contributors. Joanne Barber is a retired university lecturer in counselling from Newfoundland, Canada and a member of the collaborative artful narrative inquiry network (CANI-net) at the University of Bristol, UK. She has a lifelong love of writing and telling stories: an attribute that her grandchildren in Australia particularly benefit from. Prue Bramwell-Davis’ doctorate explored the bridges
262 between visual thinking and the development of wise design
skills. This work grew out of teaching visual thinking and user-centred principles to engineers learning industrial design. Later she taught research skills to textile design practitioners at the Royal College of Art. She is now exploring the kinds of knowledge generated by the intelligence of the hands. Her research is grounded in her own practice as an exhibiting textiles designer making various constructed textile forms such as rag-rugs, sprang and spinning. A paper in the recently published ‘Storytelling: Global Reflections on Narrative’ (Brill: 2019) maps knowledge perceived by the hands onto broader social and personal narratives. Catriona Brodie is a policy and quality assurance officer for Kent County Council. She is also a part-time PhD student at the University of Hull and is currently writing up her thesis, which focuses on mental health and spirituality. Catriona loves to walk along the cliff tops near her home in Walmer and swim in the sea. Laurinda Brown is a retired reader in mathematics teacher education from the University of Bristol. She enjoys editing, particularly international mathematics education journals and, also, recently Storytelling: Global Reflections on Narrative (2019). Marion Donaldson is a qualified teacher of the visually impaired. She is currently freelance, working ad hoc for the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the blind, UK) and supervising teaching placements for Birmingham University. Marion is preparing to carry out narrative research in the area of SEN (Special Educational Needs) and inclusion.
Melissa Dunlop is a doctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh, writing a ‘something’ to do with psychotherapy and fiction and indulging loves of language, the human condition, creative, collaborative and relational processes. She lives and works as a psychotherapist in Bristol, UK. Website: www.melissadunlop.com Angela Dweck: Note taker. (Scandinavian and Afro-Chinese languages grouping) Pervasive Archaeologies Network. Erik the Red, Irish terrier, belonging to Sue Porter.
Janice Filer is an International Trainer of Sherborne Developmental Movement. She supervises students of dance and play therapy alongside her work as a mental health and well-being education consultant. As a trauma psychotherapist with a private practice in North Bristol, she lives with her husband and spends time painting, writing and enjoying family life with their five children and eight grandchildren. Ken Gale works in the Institute of Education at the University of Plymouth, UK. He has published and presented widely on the philosophy of education, research methodologies and collaborative approaches to education practices. His most recent book: Madness as Methodology: Bringing Concepts to Life in Contemporary Theorising and Inquiry (2018) explores the (non)methodological ways in which more-than-simply-human forms of inquiry might take place. Mike Gallant is a psychological therapist working in adult mental health psychology for the Scottish National Health Service and online through the Dr-Julian.com platform. He is an occasional tutor in counselling and psychotherapy at the University of Edinburgh. Luci Gorell Barnes began her professional life in physical theatre but migrated to the visual arts. Her work revolves around themes of childhood, place and belonging, and she writes and makes artist’s books, maps and animated films that explore these ideas. Her participatory practice is concerned with those who find themselves on the margins for one reason or another and she develops responsive processes that aim to help people think imaginatively with themselves and others.
Owain Griffiths: Welsh border collie: archival sniffer dog: pervasive archaeologies network (PAN). Ho Ping Hung: Research Fellow (Beijing) Pervasive Archaeologies Network (PAN). Donna Kemp: Deconstructing the dominant three (bloody hell) lines cannot (can they) express the fury she feels. Denied (bury) that PhD which she won, the University of Bristol centenary scholarship to do and did (buried). A tour de-force arts-based, 264 hyper-textual, writing as inquiry, recovery from trauma (buried still), institutionalized silencing, perhaps (buried). Davina Kirkpatrick is an artist, researcher and lecturer, utilising arts-based methods and serious play to explore grief, loss and chronic pain. She is a visiting Research Fellow at the University of Plymouth. She is writing a novel about equivalent intensities to grief and shares her life in Cornwall with a red dog. Website: www.davinak.co.uk Carol Laidler is an artist based at Spike Island, Bristol. Her work explores memory, perception and the conflicting narratives that emerge within the history of a place. It takes the form of site-specific installations. She uses writing, photography and walking as part of her process. Website: www.alldaybreakfast.info Marian Liebmann is a mediator and restorative justice practitioner and trainer, also an art therapist who has worked in a community mental health team for 19 years. She has developed art therapy work with anger and conflict issues, and runs workshops in these around the world. She has written/ edited 12 books on art therapy, mediation and restorative justice. Chara Lo is now working in both China and Taiwan as an ESL (English as a second language) teacher. She has a doctorate in education from the University of Bristol. Her doctoral thesis, giving an account of her suicidal self, took the format of a play script. She finds non-traditional texts easier spaces in which to reveal the unseen. Lynn Maddern received her doctorate from the University of
Bristol in 2011. During a career as a clinical psychologist in Child Health and CAMHS (Child and adolescent mental health service) settings, she specialized in developing services for asylum seekers and refugees. She now provides expert witness reports for immigration tribunals, in relation to unaccompanied minors. Marina Malthouse spent the last 20 years of her medical career working as a palliative care physician. Attending to the dying inspired her to broaden her approach to medicine and medical education by studying further - an MA in Medical Humanities at Swansea university, and an EdD in Narrative Inquiry at the University of Bristol. She has now retired as a physician but continues with academic work in Palliative Medicine at Cardiff University; writing creatively and volunteering in refugee camps and a holistic education centre (both in Greece).
Viv Martin has a professional background in teaching, counselling, and healthcare research. She is now retired and still a curious story reader/listener/writer who prefers bridges to walls. Alys Mendus is a radically ill-disciplined and knicker-loving new mum who loves teasing and learning and crafting and jumping in the Australian sea. She also has a radically ill-disciplined PhD (in Education), wherein she used her scholarship to fund living in a van and visiting over 180 innovative schools in 23 countries. She is currently writing a book on performing school tourism and revelling in the joys of washable nappies, as well her toddler’s delight (similar to Sue’s: see chapter 7 of this book) in crows. Akiba Mordechai: Laboratory technician and technological consultant. Pervasive Archaeologies Network (PAN). Morgan, Irish Terrier, belonging to Sue Porter. Jelena Nolan is Research Impact Officer, University of Leicester, feminist mother of an extremely sociable toddler and a creative writer of between-the-worlds experiences. She is also a psychologist. Her search for a missing parent brought her to doctoral study in Bristol, and now she mainly writes herself in and out of things.
Sarah Nymanhall’s retirement (from a career in teaching and counselling) re-ignited her passion for the written word, and she has been writing poetry and prose ever since. She mostly writes with the spoken word in mind, with the belief that the performative element of creative writing offers an impactful way of reaching an audience. Her experience, both as a performer and audience member in the immediacy of that shared moment of the spoken word, has fed this belief. Margaret Page is a visiting senior research fellow in the Faculty
266 of Business and Law at the University of the West of England
in Bristol, England. She is a feminist activist, developing artist, and writer, and is currently co-authoring a book on how UK feminists are engaging with Brexit. She loves to travel, to visit friends, to stay home with her cats, to tend her garden, and to speak in Italian. Katrina Plumb is a poet who works with society’s outcasts, creating space in which they can explore their emotions for the first time and leave a verbal record of their experience. She recently worked with a Professor in India on a chapter for a book on storytelling and sustainability, to be published by Routledge later this year. Sue Porter was formerly a senior research fellow in disability studies in the Norah Fry research centre and also co-ordinated the monthly narrative inquiry space for ‘ANI-net’ for many years at the University of Bristol. She was an ardent feminist and community activist. Sue died in 2017. Bubu Pyrsou has a PhD in education from the University of Bristol. She currently lives in Athens. Jane Reece combines writing, research and teaching in community and higher education. She worked in higher education and publishing in Africa for some years before completing her MA in creative writing and personal development at the University of Sussex and her doctorate in narrative inquiry at the University of Bristol. She has taught creative and life writing in prisons, health and wellbeing groups and adult education settings. She is a research advisor for the MSc creative writing for therapeutic purposes (Metanoia/ University of Middlesex) and visiting tutor at the Centre for
African Studies, University of Copenhagen. She is always writing or thinking about writing. Malcolm Reed previously taught narrative and culturalhistorical research methods at the University of Bristol. He is a former Inner-London secondary school teacher of English and a former English teacher educator. Now retired, Malcolm is improving his Italian and exploring the southern Mediterranean. Ann Rippin was a reader in management studies at the University of Bristol until she had a teeny tiny breakdown. She is now a humanist celebrant and textile artist. She is frequently skint, but much happier.
Artemi Sakellariadis is a teacher committed to developing more inclusive education. She is director of the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (www.csie.org.uk) and honorary research associate at the University of Bristol, where she coordinate’s ANI-Net’s ‘Narrative Open Inquiry Space’ meetings. She enjoys writing alone and with others, often parting with convention in the name of stronger engagement. Chris Scarlett is an educator in lifelong education who worked in prison and trades union education, for the Open University and as national women’s education manager for the Workers’ Educational Association. She retired and completed a doctorate with the University of Bristol. She is now active as a trustee to voluntary sector women’s charities, as an amateur musician and knitter. Her forthcoming book is entitled: Sisters: Secrets and Subjectivities. Seema Shrenk: Lead Professorial Executive, Pervasive Archaeologies Network (PAN) United Universities, Mid-planet earth4. Professor Shrenk led multiple pan-global excavations into the everyday lives of humans and other species in South West Albion in the mid and post-COVID era: a highly contested body of archaeological/geo-political scholarship. Barhardar Singh: Note taker. Eurasian languages grouping, Pervasive Archaeologies Network (PAN). Jane Speedy is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Bristol, where she founded and directed the artful inquiry network (ANI-net). She now lives and works as a fine
artist (painter) and continues to be curious and to write. She divides her time between St. Davids, West Wales and Bristol, England. Her most recent book is: Staring at the Park (2015) Left Coast Press, USA. Website: janespeedysart.co.uk Tami Spry is Professor of Performance Studies in the Communication Studies Department at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, USA. Her publications and performance work focus on sociocultural issues articulated through performative autoethnography and non-traditional 268 texts. Her latest book is Autoethnography and the Other (2016). Peggy Styles is a doctoral graduate and ANI-Net member at the University of Bristol. At 89 years old, Peggy also holds the honour of being the University of Bristol’s oldest doctoral graduate. Ulf, Irish Terrier, belonging to Davina Kirkpatrick. Goya Wilson Vásquez is a Nicaraguan/Peruvian based at the University of Bristol, working on memory struggles and creative/ radical methodologies in Latin America. She is transforming her doctoral research on post-war testimonial writing in Peru into a digital archive. She co-organised a peace festival with Peruvian and Colombian memory activists and is now leading the ‘Creative Methodologies for Unearthing Hidden War Stories’ project in Latin America. Andrew Walls has been a primary school teacher for the past eight years in the UK and in Central America. During his MA at the University of Bristol he explored the narratives of academic underachievement amongst primary school children. He now works at Calder House, a school specialising in teaching children with dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia. Sonja Wedderkop: Honorary Research Fellow, University of Leiden: Pervasive Archaeologies network. Jonathan Wyatt is Professor of Qualitative Inquiry and Director of the Centre for Creative-Relational Inquiry at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Therapy, Stand-up, and the Gesture of Writing: Towards Creative-Relational Inquiry (2019), which recently won the 2020 International Congress of
Qualitative Inquiry book award. Tess Wyatt is an artist/teacher living in Edinburgh. She has been working over the last couple of years experimenting with art journaling, as a therapeutic group process. She is an active mixed-media artist and is currently interested in big stitch embroidery and boro-inspired work. [Accessed 30 October 2017]. Louise Younie is an academic/GP with a passion for creative 269 inquiry as a vehicle for practitioner development and human flourishing. She completed a doctorate at the University of Bristol, which explored the multiple benefits of arts programmes as part of medical education.
Index. Page numbers followed by ‘n’ indicate a note. abstract knowledge 17 Anzaldua, G. 152 artful narrative inquiry network (ANI-Net) 4–5, 32, 63–80, 84, 247 art-making 9, 33, 152, 155, 156, 228 a/r/tography 79, 153, 223 270 assemblages ix, 97, 104, 122, 156 autoethnography: performative 84, 86, 90, 92, 93, 116, 121; writing 64, 92–93 Barad, K. 115, 121, 169, 237 Barber, J. 92 Barnes, L. G. 92 Bion, W. 228 Boal, A. 120 body(ies) 95–97, 100, 104, 119, 120–121, 126; interactions viii; and language i; politic viii, ix; sculpting 171–172; and text viii–ix; of work 3–10 borders ix, 37, 152 brackets 41 Bradbury, H. 78 Braidotti, R. 152, 237 Bramwell-Davis, P. 36, 133, 135 Brodie, C. 133 Brown, L. 63 Butler, J. 115 Cameron, D. 206nx Cameron, J. 63 ‘cardi writing’ 153 Carson, A. 36–39, 41–42 CeNTraL (centre for narratives and transformative learning) 32 Centre for Creative-Relational Inquiry (CCRI) 247–248 collaboration/collaborative 22, 33, 78–79, 239; autoethnographic writing 64; grieving 235, 237; group 142; inquiry 63–64; ‘khadi’ 153; practices 32, 79–80, 84, 85, 90; process 33, 64, 78, 79, 85; research 84 collaborative writing 4–7, 9–10, 22, 25, 33, 79, 85, 92–93, 116, 126–127, 140, 152, 153, 155, 207, 222, 228, 237
collective biography 183, 206ni Conquergood, D. 116, 120, 121 cozy crimes and deadly deeds 181–207 creative-relational research 248 cripples 7, 170, 214 crip theory 7 dancing 105, 137, 141–145 dark dusky agency 233, 237 Davies, B. 64, 115, 156 death 8, 73, 133, 232, 238 Deleuze, G. 115 Derrida, J. 37, 41 Diversi, M. 116 doctor-patient spaces 140 Dolan, J. 93 Donaldson, M. 63 Dunlop, M. 3, 7, 8, 84, 85, 133, 213
edges 37, 160 embodied/embodiment 58, 64, 90, 118, 126, 143, 153, 241, 247–248; experience 79, 128, 156; performance 84, 126–127; process 127 entanglement 88, 93, 123, 139, 238 ethical know-how 212 everydayness 36 evocative objects 195, 206nxi felt sense 226, 241nxi feminist/feminism 6, 32, 33, 84, 97, 115, 133, 165 Filer, J. 36, 63, 75, 133 Fletcher, J. 127 fluidity 127, 152, 238 fragility ii, 97, 108, 152 fragments 4, 36, 39, 57, 58, 78, 229 Gale, K. 36, 92, 214 Gallant, M. 154, 213 Gannon, S. 116, 156 gathering 22, 92, 135, 155, 156, 223, 232, 237 Gendlin, E. 241nx Gerald 8, 16, 22, 28nviii Gingrich-Philbrook, C. 116 grief/grieving 18, 222, 228, 231, 235–237
group collaboration 142 Guardian, The 195, 206nxii Guattari, F. 115 haiku iii Hall, G. 213 Haraway, D. 115 Harris, A. 248 Haug, F. 185, 206ni, 228
272 illness space 140–141
Ingold, T. 84, 139, 183, 229 International centre for accessible scholarship decemination (ICASD) 3 Jackson, A. 115, 116 Kaufer, K. 127 Kemp, D. 154 ‘khadi’ collaboration 153 Kirkpatrick, D. 3, 152, 154, 181, 207nxviii, 213 ‘kitchen sink dramas’ 207nxix knowledge 123; abstract 17; generating 90; visual 56 Laidler, C. 3, 7, 8, 152, 154, 181, 213 Leggo, C. 40, 43 “Letting go – letting things come to you” 69–70 Levitas, R. 207nxx Liebmann, M. 63, 73 life changing events, making meaning of 63–80 lipstick 206nvi Lo, C. 92 loss 158–160, 197, 223; and emotion 74; and grief 231; and pain 236, 240; of place 17; of self 162 Maddern, L. 36 Madison, S. 116, 120 making, dialogue on 168–171 “Making Meaning from Fragmentary Activities” 73–74 Malthouse, M. 63, 72, 133 Manning, E. 33, 212, 249 mark-making 153, 167, 169 Martin, V. 92 Massey, D. 84–85, 88, 133–146
Massumi, B. 33, 212 Mazzei, L. 115, 116 Mcruer, R. 7 meandering 135–147, 181 Mendus, A. 154, 213 Miljevic, J. N. 36, 92 Moreira, C. 116 more-than-human ideas 212 mourning 212 multiplicitous thresholds 36, 59 multiplicity/simultaneous stories 21
Narrative Inquiry Centre (NIC) 247–248 Neimeyer, R. 235 Nymanhall, S. 36 open space 32, 49; ANI-Net 64–80; events 32, 64; meeting 134; narrative inquiry 33, 36–59, 133, 139; research centre 139; session 54, 133 Page, M. 3, 7, 8, 63, 64, 84, 85 Parallel Red 187, 206nvi Pelias, R. 116, 121 Perabo, S. 242nxvi performative: acts 111; call and collaborative response, Spry’s 92–129; methodologies 64; see also under autoethnography Perls, F. 225, 241nviii Phillips, A. 70 Pineau, E. 121 Plumb, K. 63, 71, 75 pockets, theme of 154–176 “poem about the desire to interpret symptoms, A” 75 Pollock, D. 116, 120 Porter, S. 3, 5–8, 36, 63, 92, 133, 154, 181, 213–240 postcards 2, 30, 62, 82, 132, 150, 180, 210, 244, 252 post-human 32, 152, 159, 169, 237 Prendergast, M. 40, 43 Pullman, P. 59 Pyrsou, B. 36, 92 queer 7 Radio 4 206nv Reason, P. 78
Reece, J. 92 Reed, M. 36 refugees 172–176 ‘Retiring from medicine’ 72–73 Rippin, A. 63, 92, 133, 147ni, 154, 181 rituals 237 Ronai, C.R. 135 Sakellariadis, A 3, 7, 8, 32, 36, 63, 76, 92, 213 Sameshima, P. 40, 43, 152 274 Sappho 36–38, 41 Sartre, J. 187 Scarlett, C. 133, 147nii Scarry, E. ix Schechner, R. 230 sculpting 92, 103, 122, 128, 171–172 sculpture 89, 96, 97, 101–102, 104, 114 second wave 6 sessions for ANI-Net 64–80 ‘She wanders/wonders’ 207nxviii Shrenk, S. 3, 4, 6, 7, 249 significant event, making meaning of 63–80 Solnit, R. 84 space: discussions about 143; doctor-patient 140; illness 140–141; patients need 140; see also open space Speedy, J. 3, 5–8, 32, 36, 63, 64, 70, 92, 133, 152, 154, 181, 212, 213, 245, 247 Springgay, S. 153, 223 Spry, T. 84–85, 92–129 Staring at the Park 36 Styles, P. 36, 92 things/loss 158–160 thresholds 36 time 9, 15, 21, 24, 84, 85, 135–138, 141–145, 230 trees 56, 58, 224 trust/truth 162–165 Vasquez, G. W. 36 visual knowledge 56 Walls, A. 63, 70 “Where I Am” 71–72 “Why so different now?” 75–76
Women’s Institute 206niii work of bodies 3–10 world café 32, 35ni writing: and art-making 33, 152, 155, 156; autoethnographic 64, 92–93; collaborative 4–7, 9–10, 22, 25, 33, 79, 85, 92–93, 116, 126–127, 140, 152, 153, 155, 207, 222, 228, 237; collage of fragments 64–78; drawings and 58; example of 161; experience of everyday life 45; about making 165–168; process of 36–39, 160–161; in real time 16, 92, 115, 116; using to reflect on form of life 57–58 275 Wyatt, J. 3, 36, 92, 213, 245, 249 Wyatt, T. 213 Younie, L. 133