Monday, June 05, 2006

Narrative Turn

Since late 2003 I have been describing myself as working with narratology. Beginning with Bakhtin I was impressed by the way the device of chronotope allowed one to x-ray (to use the word of Michael Holquist) a text and look at its skeleton so to speak. However last week was a turning point in many ways.
First I got myself an ironing board. Never in my younger days would I have thought I would be the owner of an ironing board (so bougeosie!!) but I am tired of ironing my shirts (on the rare occasions I did so) on the floor on a towel. The ironing board was followed by another strange introduction: the allotment. My wife organised the renting of an allotment and last week I made my first visit to our little garden in the woods and dug the earth for about 3 hours, planting potatoes. I used to have gardens before 1993 and my moving to Sydney, I even lived on a farm for a year once (1992). Following my leaving settled life and traveling in 1995 I worked on farms in Tasmania, East Gippsland and the Atherton Tablelands (parts of Australia), Thailand, and Spain. Now we are working on bringing the plot back to life as it has not been cultivated for a while. The plot is something I have been thinking about at university also.
I presented a preliminary chapter to my thesis at the end of last week. The seminar went well although the criticism were many, maybe this is why it well. Two major things came out of it; one is that the chapter will be broken up and will form the basis for the whole thesis, with possible additions of course. The other outcome was that my work on narrative does not really fit in with the rest of the project direction. I am moving more and more into reception of texts and their social meanings and values. This is very consistent with Bakhtin who worked a lot on genre and speech act theory. Actually this makes me very happy as abandoning the formalist constrictions of narrative theory in favor of the social and cultural allows me to get right into the whole network and collaborative elements of digital texts.
Somehow there is a connection between the mottled patchworks of the allotment gardeners (all very friendly people they seem to be), the message sent out by the well ironed shirt and the social aspects of digital texts.
"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together." (I watched a doco on the Beetles over the weekend).

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