Academic journal article Social Alternatives

Writing the Ephemeral of Culture: Storm Method

Academic journal article Social Alternatives

Writing the Ephemeral of Culture: Storm Method

Article excerpt

Sometime in the last year I learnt to listen to storms and I learnt to listen to myself. I became a series of storms. I put them to use in describing my work in academia and I have named this process Storm Method. It started with an Ice Storm, but it also recalled the other elements of storm embodied last year as dust and wind and it then became a Fire Storm where I learnt to use my anger for good. It is within my feelings of anger, passion and unrest that a good story can unfold and live through its ephemeral being as a storm. This work uses both writing as inquiry (Richardson and Adams St Pierre 2005) and Aboriginal ways of being, knowing and doing (Martin 2008).

Introduction

Storm n. & v. 1. n. Violent disturbance of the atmosphere with thunder, strong wind, or heavy rain or snow, a tempest; - in a teacup, great excitement over trivial matter. 2. (Meteorol.) Wind intermediate between gale and hurricane (on the Beaufort scale, of 55-72 m.p.h.) 3. Violent disturbance of the established order in human affairs, tumult, agitation, war, invasion, dispute etc. (~ and stress, period of fermenting ideas and unrest in person's of nation's life [f. G. Sturm und Drang, used as title of a play characteristic of the literary movement in Germany c. 177082] (Sykes 1976, 1135).

Storm Method is an auto-ethnographic writing style that captures individual chaotic moments influenced by larger events in human history. It has force but like all storms it is ephemeral; it dissipates. I make a connection between my writing and Sturm und Drang (storm and stress), because as a member of colonised peoples I am often speaking back to particular moments in time, which in this case is the colonisation of Australia in 1788 and coinciding with the era of Sturm und Drang. The movement of Sturm und Drang was a speaking back to the Enlightenment as seen in this description:

... it is an attempt at a new philosophy which is neither orthodox Christianity nor the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century. This new view emphasises the totality of man's forces, not reason alone, nor sentiment alone, but rather intuition, "intellectual intuition", imagination (Wellek 1949, 150).

Do my series of storms exist only in the teacup of my own ontology as I attempt to find space for personal stories within the social sciences? Or are they the product of 'intellectual intuition' that can create a disturbance in the 'established order of human affairs'? Either way, I offer them up within the space of auto-ethnography (Ellis and Bochner 2000) to speak as a narrative for my own inquiry (Richardson and Adams St Pierre 2005), firmly positioned in my framework as an Aboriginal woman (Martin 2008).

Martin (2008) also speaks of agency in research for Aboriginal people and Storm Method gives me agency and control over my research. The storm, the ephemeral that may only last for a day, is an entry point into writing of a disturbance that may seem trivial but gains power through intellectual intuition to become something more within the larger study of culture.

Cultural studies often tend to operate in what looks like an eccentric way, starting with the particular, the detail, the scrap of ordinary or banal existence, and then working to unpack the density of relations and of intersecting social domains that inform it (Frow and Morris 2000, 327).

This article uses four storms as stories. The storms represent the elements and are an unpacking of events in order to speak as an Aboriginal academic within Cultural Studies. It is auto-ethnography which 'seeks to ground the self in a sense of the sacred, to connect the ethical, respectful self dialogically to nature and the worldly environment' (Denzin and Lincoln 2000, 1052). It uses 'short stories, poetry, fiction, novels, photographic essays, personal essays, journals, fragmented and layered writing and social science prose' (Ellis and Bochner 2000, 739). It is a new view with connections to an old culture. …

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