proposing a form
When I first presented the idea of a dissertation represented in small 'bits' linked by hypertext, I was greeted with the suggestion that that was "not possible". Yet I had some reassurance in the work of Antoinette Oberg (2003), Lisa Lipsett (2001) and a couple of colleagues.
Oberg (2003) reflects on patterns she noticed when listening to graduate students' struggles about how to approach their research notes. She suggests:
[W]ithout a research method, each student already knew how to proceed. Each was reproducing a patterning that existed elsewhere in their lives, in their cases, in their professional work outside the university. However, within their university thesis research, the students themselves did not recognize this patterning. My articulation of this patterning in their research both brought it to their attention and legitimated it within the university. (p. 126).
The time at the greenhouse had brought my own patterning to my attention and Oberg's writing suggested I might be able to give it some validity. Lisa Lipsett's (2001) research provided further support.
The biggest challenges of doing this work of listening, and following through the lessons learned in the greenhouse, was letting go of the powerfully inscribed assumptions that knowing is necessarily an effect of thought. It also required that I trust that the dissertation would be accepted if I was to proceed.
My own process of art-making, together with practice in what I have come to describe as dialogic reading, offered listening spaces which opened up possibilities for hearing and responding to insights from the more-than-human world (Abram, 1996). Later in the process, encouraged by the theorizing of Heesoon Bai (2001, 2003, 2009), I continued more confidently. It was only in letting go of the comfortable familiarity of linear explanatory text and my desire to read a whole article, to instead, allow myself to be guided by intuition and the movements of my body, that I could: (a) finally settle into the form of this dissertation, and (b) realize why I had to complete the dissertation in hypertext.
*See Barrett (2007, p. 216 onward) for a more extensive and storied description of the process of letting go of the mind to open up to art and poetry as a way of expressing knowing that came through letting go of the rational mind.