Wednesday, June 03, 2009

pushing limits

Writing a PhD in the shape I see fit involves pushing some boundaries.
What I'm studying might be considered vague, it shifts shape, its change as it happens, anticipated and unexpected.
The specific change is about counselling, again a shape shifter, a contested subject area on both value and on content.
John Law writes of such things with eloquence, when things are messy, how does cleaning them up make them more accurately studied? The cleaning up may miss the point.
There is so much cleaning up that happens for the PhD.
There's the cleaning and neating and trimming of rough edges that goes into the ethics application. "How many people will be interviewed, for how long and where?" The reality is as many as it takes till Im saturated, for the length of time they will give me noting any signs of distractedness and repsecting personal freedom, and where? Wherever they will let me and negotiating this to suit mutual needs. I might interview these people if they will talk to me, and I'll interview these artefacts but since the method is probably outside of your understanding, I phrase this differently.
Then there's what I'm studying, counselling. What is it? It can be this or that depending on where one is up to in the relationship, and the issues involved. Sometimes its direct, sometimes its not. And this time its in a format that involves no talking no listening and the people arent in the same space/place. And its contained to 160 characters. Brings a new dimension to what it means to be there for someone. to show active listening or empathy. Brings a new understanding of what counselling might be. Whats studied is nebulous, it shape shifts, sometimes its fluid, sometimes it leaps intuitively and has a closer resemblence to fire.
Seems what I most want to look at is something that only exists because its invisible. Visible because of invisibility, voice because of silence. Presence because of absence. Demonstrable in passing because of digital traces.
Its existence is evident albeit invisible and inaudible, slippery, nebulous.
In the alchemy that changes the ephemeral to permanent, what harm might be done? That which is studied is reshaped, those that are studied are given form. Their presence wasnt anticipated. will i do no harm? There is a lot at stake, the service is needed, those who use it vulnerable, those who provide it are trialling what is needed in a practice that is unknown.
Its difficult to study what is nebulous without accidentally pushing it into a singular shape. Its difficult to represent the real when as soon as its given form it is altered. I ma reminded, the map is not the territory, but how then to represent it so it may still be understood? Here John Law suggests other ways of knowing. Allegory; the art of meaning something other.An art for crafting the indefinite. Maybe its in the art.

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