preliminary rituals

Happy May! Coursework is over, I’m reflecting a lot on that fact, and alongside reading for my preliminary exams in the Fall, some real maker-work has begun in the Gollihue household. That includes:

  1. Crocheting a huge woolen quilt in the middle of the North Carolina summer.
  2. Visiting my grandmother on a bi-weekly basis. She has Alzheimer’s but hasn’t forgotten too much of me/us yet. She asks me these four questions each time:
    • Why did you cut your beautiful hair? It was so beautiful.
    • What do you mean you’re crocheting now? Knitting is so much easier, here I have just made this intricately cabled Afghan in the time we’ve been sitting here.
    • When are you getting married? Is that boy still around?
    • When am I getting out of here?
  3. Helping my partner in the garden, which is a special kind of vitality. Hands in Chatham clay, growing a thing as a radical act of love, etc.
  4. Playing Dungeons & Dragons and absolutely living for my character, a lawful-good Aquarian cleric dwarf who follows the dwarven deity of wanderers and travelers, i.e. literally a hobo god.

In and amongst all of this, I’m taking solace in what’s in front of me. I know that there is more that I can be doing w/r/t literally everything, but right now, it seems important to me to be present in these ways, to these family members and these communities.

I’ve begun reading, reflecting on what to do with all these new and intersecting ideas. While this semester was a lot of self-directed work, including the Fates of Things (will update the link when they’ve posted the video of this, it was such a cool symposium!) and decolonizing technofeminist methodologies, I still have a lot of feelings about the role of graduate-level coursework, whether self-directed or driven by a particular kind of curriculum. People who are much more intelligent and well-spoken than me have written on that, though, and I don’t see it as particularly productive (yet) to dwell on what may or may not have been time better spent, well, making stuff.

I think what I want to focus on now are the rituals around this time I have. For much of my time in the MFA, which was also a time-set-aside, I focused on ritualizing the work, the poem itself as ritual, as entering into a space of immanence, as getting ready to receive the world-becoming. I want to do my best now to capture that feeling of connectedness to this space and time, too, to be both inside and outside, before and after the engagement with the text. So, the three questions I’m moving forward with:

  1. How do we enter into this moment of preparation for our expertise, our identities?
  2. What are we experiencing that becomes called “time” or “space”?
  3. How do things resonate (with other texts, other experiences, other bodies, etc.)?

These questions are also questions I’ve been asking about my dissertation site (Makerspaces), and they’ve been shaped by my engagement with my first topic area, Object-Oriented Feminism (OOF) (Behar, 2016). The real thing I’m getting at is, how do we pay attention to the inherently radical way that things command us even as we think and theorize? Maybe a priming for later observations, but I want to move forward from these beginning stages paying close attention to the ways research is a ritual – a way that a body, heart, history comes into a new space-time and creates a map/prayer for transcendence.

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