Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Writing and reflexivity
I've just finished Ralf Cintron's wonderfully written book 'Angel's Town' which was recommended to me by Damiana Gibbons. It's one of the most reflexive ethnographies I know, and it is particuarly successful in analysing the act of writing. Cintron talks about the 'special relationship between the space that contains the writing and the writing that inhabits that space' arguing that the two form 'a powerful dialectic, Stated simply,the dialectic consists of writing (the making of socially meaningful marks usually realting to oral language) and a blank surface (paper, clay tablets, computer screen, walls, and so on). Writing is the making of an order and the blank surface is that space or servant that holds the order. Typically, writing catches the eye, but the surface that recieves the writing does not. In this sense, the writing contains the stronger presence, and the surface that receives the writing is defined by that presence. The surface, then, is an ordered, limited space cleared of obstacles and ready to be acted upon by an ordering agent weilding a highly routininized tool.....the goal of literacy training...is to produce individuals [ordering agents] who can create viable minature worlds in both their writing and reading....Writing attempts to interrupt or shape an amorphousness that might otherwise melt us into everything else, and we call those interruptions or shapings acts of consciousness or self-consciousness.' Say no more!