knowing in/through collage
After sitting on my desk for months, I left this first incomplete collage behind to begin the mountain & crevasse, and later, meLand (see Barrett, 2007, p. 216 onward). As I continued my work on the hypertext, and used energy work to shift limiting discourses encountered along the way, I was able to pick this particular piece up again.
Following the lead of my hands (see Lipsett, 2001), more images were layered on over a period of several days. As has been the case with many parts of this dissertation, my task was then to use my intellect to figure out the metaphor that had emerged through my embodied, pre-discursive perception. Several weeks later, after sitting with the images of the climbers, mixed with various consumer items, the words came:
what is the university(humanity)
willing/ready to let go of?
a few weeks later, I added one more word, in (hopeful) parentheses
Ultimately, insights attained through this embodied "earth connection" were most often 'heard' through the movement of my hands, then combined with my own and other humans' thoughts (sometimes friends, sometimes academic theorists'), to enable the making of new (and often previously unthinkable) meanings. Both my own process of art-making, and the 'reader's' engagement with the work of various artists who collaborated in this project, offer listening spaces which open up possibilities for hearing and responding to insights from the non-human (Lipsett, 2001) and spirited world. The results in this case, are a "different kind of academic voice" (Lather, 2006, p. 44), one that overwrites the "linguistic-conceptual mind" which is "inherently disembodying" (Bai, 2001, p. 87). This different voice replaces "percepts with concepts" (Bai, 2001, p. 87, 2009).
The biggest challenge of doing this work of listening was letting go of the powerfully inscribed assumptions that knowing (and in this case collage-making) is necessarily an effect of thought. It was only in releasing the hold* of (and my desire to be led by) reasoned thought and following the movements of my hands, that I could begin to 'hear' the insights of animate Earth – and move to complete the collages contained in this dissertation.
This was the moment of embodied awareness, the ending of "habitual thought construction" (Bai, 2009, p. 144).
*See Barrett (2007, p. 216 onward) for a more extensive and storied description of the process of letting go of conceptual reasoned, discursive consciousness in order to create in communion with Earth (see Bai, 2009; See also Lipsett, 2001).