“The middle is by no means an average; on the contrary, it is where things pick up speed. Between things does not designate a localizable relation going from one thing to the other and back again, but perpendicular direction, a transversal movement that sweeps one and other away, a stream without beginning or end that undermines its banks and picks up speed in the middle”
– Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p. 25
I sit upon an Udaipurian rug I purchased along my travels. Its detailed patchwork is a collection of a thousand other pieces – mismatched materials from every corner of the sub continent – meticulously beaded and pulled together by tiny hands. The ethical reality of market shopping in many developing countries waves at me from across my mind. Crossed legged upon its embellishments, the skin on the tops of my feet hold imprints of its design. Feeling the enfleshed grooves of its patterns with my fingertips, my senses are taken back to India.
I draw my hand along the dim-lit walls of a Rajasthani fabric shop – bursting with tails of silk, wool and cashmere from the earth to ceiling. Brightly patterned fabrics tousled together and traced by foreign fingertips – Artistic Memoir is an eternally becoming, enfleshed knot – weaving, twisting, detaching, fraying – and as such, has multiple entry points. In certain conditions, space loosens and new openings may be unraveled. Others become strangled in tension, buried by others of the Same. All of this at play for a small cost to a gora. As the memory flies away from me, I play with a loose bead on the edge of my rug. Never outside the complexities of material bodies, power and place – I invite you to read this work from whichever point innerves your curiosity, your inspiration. Begin from the beginning, the end, or the middle – and pull at hanging threads which call to be unraveled.
Pulling at my Strings
Inspired by the nomadic writings of Rosi Braidotti (2002), Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1987), and Kathleen Stewart (2007), this blog space opts for a style that pulls away from the logocentrism of traditional academic writing and is a gesture of rejection – a wandering from the ways in which we assume things have always been done in school-based research. Artistic memoir is animated by a mosaic of singularities that draw on pressure points, wonderings and banalities of excess – a circuit of affectual densities and textures layered over a map or contact zone (Stewart, 2007). In this case, the temporal body of this work takes the shape of a blog site. Operating within its shell are posts; regions of intensities or collections of lines – plateaus that stir up movement within the assemblage. Intentionally disparate and tangential, the significance of these posts lie not in one key underlying message but in the “intensities they build and in what thoughts and feelings they make possible” (Stewart, 2007, p. 3). With this said, this writing attempts to dislodge from the “conventional pact” between a writer and her reader. What may appear to be “lost in incoherence” is actually designed to destabilize the all too familiar writer/reader binary where the writer’s intentions inherently become the reader’s reception (Braidotti, 2007, p. 9). Discarding linearity, meaning has the opportunity to emerge in any which way, following intensities and flows with an instinctual drive. Signifying this memoir with a true form would be to overlook the “working of matter, and the exteriority of their relations,” stratifying the potential complexity of its expression with assumption (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 3). In this vein, Artistic Memoir is a multiplicity; an assemblage of multiples which are infinitely unknown because its body holds no definite attributes. Each post is written to be read without a true subject or hierarchical linearity. By removing the subject, potentials and new possibilities have space to surface. These pieces in no way follow a set of steps or recognizable order. By intention, they may seem allusive, even disjointed. In such an engagement that is momentarily suspended from the familiar pathologies of top-down knowledge and binary schemes, Braidotti (2007) acknowledges the discomfort that may arise when reading this style of writing and warns that “readers may have to be patient at times and bear the stress of a journey that has no set destinations” (p. 10). It is at this point – this junction of discomfort and disequilibrium – where capacity for growth, for change, becomes possible.
Thinking Research with Artistic Memoir
Drawing loosely on feminist and post-human notions of learning as an “untamed” and “more-than-multiple” experience (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 154), I play with the use of Artistic Memoir as a method to explore my affectual experiences (Braidotti, 2002; Springgay, 2008) as a British Columbian, school-based Child and Youth Counsellor working as a visitor in the context of a shanti-school in Goa, India. Well practiced in traditionally Western paradigms of education, my intention is to move beyond my familiar understandings of what it means to be educated in North America to heighten awareness of intuitive forms of learning that arise in an encounter between intra-acting bodies, materials, and the agentic spaces between (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987). Understanding learning experiences as relational and enigmatic events, composed of rather than in the world, I engage with an inductive, intuitive and becoming-with process, exploring the emerging themes and entanglements of my presence in this Goan classroom as they grow out of a collection of child-driven, emergent art projects (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987; Mazzei, 2010). As I take on the implications of methodology and “data analysis” in post-qualitative research, I think with Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) constructions of maps, expressing my interpretation of these events with my own poetic and visual assemblages and navigating curiosities through Artistic Memoir. Thinking with philosophies of immanence (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987), new materiality (Braidotti, 2002) and the autobiographical nature of a/r/tography (Irwin, Beer, Springgay, Grauer, Xiong, Bickel, 2006), Artistic Memoir has unraveled as a nomadic method, giving my experiences and understandings of the projects a temporal body – a disjointed place for my data, fragments of my affectual reverberations with Goa, to momentarily settle. A fragmented and non-linear collection of poems, images, anecdotes and short stories, this composition begins from the middle and poses no end; its process is designed to stir up questions over answers. Through this method, my intention is to look into the “events of activities and encounters” with affective, arts-based education, “evoking transformation and change” in my experience with “data” and understanding of learning, being and knowing (Hultman & Taguchi, 2010, p. 535).