The Methodology Chapter

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I am seriously into writing the Methodology Chapter and have reached the section which discusses:

“…the creativity, research and reflexivity processes and issues associated with gathering and analysing the data as I write the historical novel and the exegesis.” (Walker, 2016:65).

Italian philosopher and feminist thinker, Adriana Cavarero (2000) in Relating Narratives Storytelling and Selfhood, explores innovative ways of thinking about fictional autobiographies and how human identities form. She draws from both the philosophical and the literary tradition, for example, Sophocles, Homer, Hannah Arendt, Karen Blixen, Walter Benjamin, and Luis Borges, in her discussions about relationship between ‘selfhood and narration’. The most interesting aspect of the book in relation to this project is Cavarero’s telling of the African myth of the stork to explain her theory about the self and narration. A man leaves the impression of his life as he races around trying to fill the gaps in a pond near his house. He is not aware that he is making tracks while he works. When he looks out of the window the next morning he sees that his tracks are in the shape of a stork. It is only afterwards that he sees the design of his life (Cavarero 2000:1). The crux of this myth is that the outline of the stork cannot be deliberately made; the stork is the narrator, not the author.

“Life cannot be lived like a story, because the story always comes afterwards, it results; it is unforeseeable and uncontrollable, just like life. If the man of the fable had voluntarily run through the night in order to trace the designs of a stork, he would not have fulfilled the story. A different story would have resulted from his actions: the strange tale of a man who spends the night tracing a stork with his footsteps.” (Cavarero 2000:3)

I love stories and the  myth of the stork has been a wonderfully visual way to help me to understand ‘my reflexivity’ in the course of the research and writing of the novel and this exegesis.

Would love to hear your story.

kind regards

Olga

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6 thoughts on “The Methodology Chapter

  1. Oh, Olga, what an intriguing myth. My own interest lies in the way our story changes with the passage of time through hindsight, maturity, enlightenment and experiences. When I first emerged from a violent relationship I could relate every instance of abuse spanning the 10-year marriage. I was often afraid and had recurring nightmares in which my ex killed not only me and our child, but also my parents and siblings. I joined the Women’s Refuge Movement and ‘maintained the anger’ in order to effectively work to end domestic violence? As the years went by, my understanding of human nature and the effects of childhood experiences grew and the memories dimmed. I could only recall the major instances and the chronology was hazy. Now, 30 years and uncountable therapy sessions later, I am no longer angry, I do not blame myself nor do I have nightmares, though my PTSD is still occasionally triggered. I do not hate my ex. I feel strongly that he deserves pity more than anything because he is still trying to blame his lack of control on external elements. I have evolved over time and I can see a big picture, which includes my experiences as well as the influences, both deliberate and unintended, of those who came before me. I am now content and I’m proud of surviving this period of my story because I can see it in relation to the whole rather than an isolated failure.

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  2. Hi Robyn
    I love this myth…it offers so much as a tool for thinking about how we relate to our own lives and how we think about the process of that relationship.

    I hope you are writing…because I feel that it is in the ‘process’ of doing ie writing, painting etc that we can deal with ‘the elements’ that make up our story. But it is the end result that gives us the shape of that part of our lives…we cannot narrate our own story…but live it….even in the event of writing an autobiography or memoire, we can only narrate, we can never recreate ‘the lived’. I have to admit that I found this hard to agree with becasue I like to think I am in complete control…and of course…that’s a big illusion:) Another author I love is Jeanette Winterson. She writes:

    “The self is not contained in any moment or any place, but it is only in the intersection of moment and place that the self might, for a moment, be seen vanishing through a door, which disappears at once.” (Winterson, 1989)

    While Winterson, in Sexing the Cherry, pushes the boundaries of gender and power and highlights that some women do not have the freedom to choose their own life-paths, it is her notion of ‘the self’ that illustrates the complexity in trying to understand one’s connection to one’s self and one’s creative practice.

    Lovely to hear from you:):)

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  3. I too like Winterson and have heard her interviewed a few times. I understand about us being narrators of the story and not recreating the story but how then do you explain that the way I narrated the domestic violence period of my life (between the ages of 21 and 31) when I was 35 was different from my narration at 45 and different again at 60. For me the facts are fluid because my understanding of the motivations for behaviour change. Similar to the way eye witness accounts of an event can all be, at least slightly, different because people bring their own interpretations to what they see or experience. Are you saying that the story us what it is regardless of how its reported? I need to hint more about this…

    Enjoying this discussion 🙂

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    • Ahh now we are getting to the crux of it…my understanding…and I’m learning as I go…we can autobiography our stories, but in the end, that too is part of the marks left behind which form the image of…say…the stork…we are embedded and we are influenced by…and in turn…influence what we are…writing…(here I mean writing as a metaphor for living)…reflexivity…reflection…doing…through practice…I think Winterson captures it…as soon as we think we glimpse ourselves…we are changed…and we disappear through…a door…gap…hole in our consciousness…scary…I think we are moving into the philosophy behind us a a creative being…

      So much to learn and understand…and I am sometimes seduced by theoretical paradigms…all good though…😄😄

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  4. There are some texts you might be interest in. In answer to a question I had to anwser for a uni tute – To what degree is there a self that stands before the text and can serve as a point of reference in autobiography? – I my responses are below:

    In some of the new criticism of autobiography – life writing, there is a focus on the aspects of signification within the text. In a way, I come back to the reading by Joan Scott, The evidence of experience, who questions whether there is pre-existence of the individual before the experience and whether or not there can be a claim to unique individuality. My thoughts are that it is the interpretation of text and where that particular interpretation is sited, for example, in discourse on gender, which will assist to place self inside or outside of the author/individual.

    Just a few examples from the Smith and Watson reading:

    • Paul John Eakin argues that in autobiography, self-invention constitutes the self, which becomes “…the reflexive codifier of human subjectivity, although self as a concept is both historically demarcated and culturally specific”. (Smith and Watson, 140). He is also interested in the way in which lives can become stories and self-experience can be seen as a “a kind of awareness process.” (Smith and Watson, 140).

    • Elizabeth Busso posits that autobiography is a performative act which illustrates the performer of that act. She is also interested in the act-value, truth-value and identity-value. (Smith and Watson, p158).

    • Louis A Renza looked at the relationship between the autobiographer and their past and theorised that in the act of life writing the author ‘presentifies’ the past. He was also interested in the self-referentiality of the “I” that “both presentifies and privatises its public presentation.” (Smith and Watson, 158). He apparently fore-grounded the split subject of life-narrative.
    :):)

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