Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Research Blues

What is it that we all hope to learn by doing research?

This is my first, official research and it's left me with important questions. And until I answer them and feel satisfied I know that I am going to face a meltdown and loathe my project.

What does research entail? Are we looking at a paper that will deliver differently? Are we looking for the stamp of our intellect, academic competency or personality? I for one begin my analyses from questions. My reading provides me with sufficient important questions- that may or may not be in congruence with the objective of the course- but they are important for me to understand the texts and the narratives.

I work around the questions, reading and re-reading the text and finding other material that will help me validate my point or counter-argue my views.

But two afternoons in the library- and I am confused- where is "theory"? There is absolutely no theory in my research. I am using ideas and narrative techniques but where is Theory!

So now I am left wondering what went wrong- have I lost faith in my research? or am I not cut out for academic research?

Monday, 12 March 2012

Narratives are not confined to books and libraries.

This space is reserved for books, I understand, but it's also about stories and the art of story-telling and the different narratives that are brought out through the story-telling.

Two years ago, in my UG I was given the opportunity to work with Nora Sweeney. Nora was an exchange scholar from Oberlin in Ohio and was at LDC to teach us film making. Such a wonderful time. We made two short films under her guidance. It was  documenting more than creativity. Awesome experience.
Nora has amazing insight and perspective. She sees things we normally wouldn't see, she forms the picture in her mind even when we are filming. Her questions are direct, simple and yet incisive. They set the entire mood and atmosphere of the films. She is now doing her own film-making, has her own website and uploads her films on them.

But what really is fantastic is the fact that stories can be narrated through any medium. Writing, poetry, fiction, interviews, biographies, short films, pictures! So many formats. They are all life-stories but told in different ways, with different perspectives and different textures and analogies. I prefer films/short-films. Because these bring colour, texture, voices and faces and also leaves a lot to be imagined. You don't walk out of a movie completely normal. Something stays on, it leaves you thinking.

So, if you've visited her profile at vimoe, you'll understand what I am talking about. Those stories, about those Moroccan artists and the wonderful, absolutely Nora-ish movie "Memory Kitchen", are exciting narratives of ordinary people and their amazing lives. I like how she sees more than the art, more than the preliminary questions and brings out entire personalities and a little story.

Narratives are so exciting, and after being shut inside libraries and books written by dead people on actual art- this is so refreshing- because she is an artist, a creator and a documentor(?) and it works beautifully. She sees something, sets it into a story, gives it flavour and retells an entire personality. I think it's amazing.

Monday, 5 March 2012

50 books I plan to read this year.

With my college days coming to an end, and my dissertation nearing completion, I am left with a lot of time on my hands (from April, ofcourse- now is That maddening phase, where you can't finish your dissertation or your assignment and are living like a sloppy zombie). So, to compensate the less-stressed phase that follows I am making a goal- to read atleast 50 books this year.

And I am beginning with Senior S' recommendations!

1. Pico Iyer- Abandon
2. Peter Mattheisson - The Snow Leopard.
3. Conn Iggulden- One Man Would Become a Legend.
4. Anna Varughese Past Perfect
5. Mohammed Hanif- Our Lady of Alice Bhatti.
6. Iris Murdoch- The Philosopher's Pupil.
7. Iris Murdoch-  A Word Child.
8. Iris Murdoch-  The Bell.
9. Faulkner- As I Lay Dying.
10. Faulkner- The Sound and the Fury.
11. Angela Carter- The Magic Toyshop.
12. Amitav Ghosh- The Sea of Poppies.
13. Amitav Ghosh- The Shadow Lines.
14. Gabriel Garcia Marquez- One Hundred Years of Solitude.
15. Andrea Levy- Fruit of the Lemon.
16. Julian Barnes- The Sense of an Ending.
17. William S Burroughs- Naked Lunch.
18. Hari Kunzru- Gods Without Men.
19. Catherynne Valente- Palimpsest

The list requires completion, so if any of you happen to stumble upon this blog- and have a recommendation put it in the comments box. I might end up reading it. :)

Also, people very important- if you guys download books- pdf format- and happen to have links to books or have ecopies with you- please, please do let me know. I am relying on old-computer-reading until I get my own Kindle!

Happy reading life- all of you!