In the middle of the night, a hollow tree stands among others. Her height tells a history. Her bark, a voice for scars. Stroked with a smokey wind, she moves. Swaying branches, long arms that dust the floor. Touching dirt, rousing leaves. Below, her roots seep into the earth – a million dancing tentacles. Crawling with insects in the darkness of buried soil, and growing with the wet hum of the night. Dripping sweat, her sap is the fluid that carries molecules. Rolling down her cheeks, growing thick with moisture in the air – She breathes with boscagial bodies, wildlings of the wood. Her pulse is of many.
Spread your hands up on her – sink nails into her skin.
Peel back her bark – look deep inside her belly.
Darkness. An empty cylinder – She is a body without organs. Her shell is no home, or place to dwell. She is no Mother – no truth – and no end. She is the water which carries – the lost – the middle.
Present in her unknown, becoming with her event – energy collects. Inside her blackened space float particles – Illuminating, fleeting, connecting, and combusting – A bustling hive of sparks, revealing tiny specs of light in the dark hollows of her womb. For a moment they hover – suspended – a wormhole to the cosmos, the infinite. Dying with the warmth of recognition, some become dull. Others gain speed, bouncing off her walls, colliding with unfamiliar bodies – crashing – exploding – and reverberating with the wild. Though at first a whisper, her pulse throbs heavy and its beat grows volume. Roaring from the depth of her roots: Expectation is the killer of life.
As if I am a curious child wondering of fireflies in a jar – gathering, flying apart and released into oblivion – I imagine this work as a temporal vessel. A site where my data, traces of my affectual experiences and theoretical imaginings, can hover in evanescence. Momentarily settling, only to be propelled in another direction. With no projected end, this space is a contact zone for wonderings – a plane of imaginings, tensions- curiosities to be reverberated with.
“And so I begin, and begin again, attempting to negotiate with a map that is changing, with an image that I must discard, and with a vocabulary that I must unthink.”
– Mazzei, 2006, p. 515
I embed myself into an Artistic Memoir. Artistic Memoir borrows from Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) construction of mapping and aspects of Irwin, Beer, Springgay, Graue, Gu and Bickel’s (2006) process of a/r/tography. Thinking with these post qualitative orientations to methodology and problematizing traditional forms of memoir as a purely personal account of a known subject, Artistic Memoir is a creative – and incomplete – collection of unknowns. Sifted through ontologies of place and new materialism, this style mirrors the nomadic nature of its theoretical inspirations and is an effort in resistance – a rejection of dominant practices in representation (Braidotti, 2002; Deleuze & Guattari, 1987; Stewart, 2007). Similar to a Deleuzian map, Artistic Memoir is “open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification. It can be torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 13). In this vein, Artistic Memoir holds no true subject or closed form and allows data from an event to unfold in an unhierarchical, relational space between intra-acting bodies. Through this work, data engage sporadically within versus outside a complex network of forces of an encounter. This process is an entirely nomadic event where “there can be no classical cause-and-effect relationship” (Hultman & Taguchi, 2010, p. 536) as “all bodies [within the memoir] are causes –causes in relation to each other and for each other” (Deleuze, 1990, p. 4, as cited in Hultman & Taguchi, 2010, p. 536). Tuck and McKenzie (2015) have described this sort of theoretical process not by means of method, but of “resonance: a continual process of crafting” (p. 92) which uses “theory as an analytic tool rather than a series of particular methods” (Fenwick, Edwards & Sawchuck, 2011, p. 177 as cited in Tuck & McKenzie, 2015, p. 91). This practice can be referred to as “a methodology of lemons, of entanglements and of reflexive, out of body work” (Lather, 2013, p. 64 as cited in Tuck & McKenzie, 2015, p. 92).
Artistic Memoir requires an openness to thought that “is situated in the in-between,” materializing energies of intra-space between bodies, accepting an invitation to move beyond “static dualisms” of one versus other and sitting in mediating spaces that become-with, spaces “where the body’s immersion and intertwining in the world creates meaning” and transforms subjectivity (Springgay, 2008, p. 39). Resonating with Irwin et. al’s (2006) practice of engaged nquiry, Artistic Memoir hovers in these intersecting spaces and focuses closely on encounters and experiences with arts-based education, rather than on representations or end products. Reflecting and engaging with my experiences practicing arts-based education, past and present, this practice will interrogate and question these materializations of meaning.
As Data Openings “find place in the in-between where language hesitates and falters, where uncertainty cannot be represented and where knowledge remains unspoken,” my intention with this work is to engage with the challenge of conveying this sort of interstitial state, illustrating “meaning as an exposure that is never yet known” with brief artistic expressions – piecey glimpses into my understanding – that attempt to breathe in difference and twist the spirit towards new directions (Springgay, 2008, p. 38). Deleuze (1994) describes this work an act of “creative stuttering” and its academically unorthodox form a movement towards “perpetual disequilibrium” (p. 27). It is with this intention in mind that my first engagement with Artistic Memoir takes the body of a blog site; a cyber soundboard for vibrations, a temporal jar for fireflies.