Cringing at my own voice: The Ethnographic Method of In-depth Interview

Of all the tasks I have to perform that are related to revising my research project into a journal article, it is revisiting the interview recording that I find most tedious. I always find ways to do something else that are nonetheless related to writing and push listening to the recording to the very last. Of course, I always find something to do and the day will eventually pass that I have not listened to the any of the recordings.

Tedious though as it is, I have a full Grasp of the importance of meticulously studying and revisiting the primary sources from which evidences are drawn that will strengthen the argument the article holds. In ethnographic works, the words of the respondents from the community being studied is the beating heart of the project. As Wendy Belcher puts it: ‘you must engage with the original literature at a deep level; there are no shortcuts’ (2009: 142).

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Writing Everyday: When I am not writing here, I am writing somewhere else

 

It has been quite a while since the last time I have updated this dear blog-site of mine and I am starting to feel rather guilty if not worried about it. The last time I have posted a blog entry here was last February 10 entitled To Be Published or Not To Be Published: Writing for the Sake of Writing, which is quite ironic because here, I talked about how I love writing and my promise to write, but did not write since then.

Aside from the huge delay, I have also realized that the blog entry of the 10th of February was the only journal entry I have posted for the month of February. This is quite a contradiction with the frequency I have posted last month. Last month, I have had 11 posts in total.

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To Be Published or Not To Be Published: Writing for the Sake of Writing

While still in grad school and still at the onset of my research project, I came across this workbook authored by Wendy Laura Belcher entitled ‘Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success’. The title is very catching and captivating especially to those want to pursue academic publication. To borrow the words of Spivak, to be published is something ‘one cannot not want’.

To pursue publication is a very daunting prospect because writing can be a very scary, painful and frustrating process. Yet, the title of the workbook somehow seems to insist that, on the contrary to what one might think, writing a journal article is not only possible but also relatively easy. It does not only guarantee that one can finish a journal article but also Insists that it can be finished on the 12th week.

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The Unfocused Mind @ Work: Mind Wondering Around While Reading

As part of The Study Game, I was reading Judith Butler’s work entitled Bodies That Matter this morning. The Study Game refers to the exercise I perform where I retrace and relive the years I have spent in graduate school by studying the texts I have read one course at a time.

Like Gender Trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity, Butlers work on Bodies That Matter is very difficult to understand. I did not fully grasp the ideas conveyed in these text when I have first read them while still in graduate school and little has changed since then. As I revisit these texts, I still do not understand them.

As I have said, I was reading Bodies That Matter this morning and to put it via Candidly, I do not have any clue what Butler was talking about or at least I find it difficult to discern the connections of the different ideas being addressed in her work. I can sense a barrier almost so palpable between myself and the text. It is like hearing a conversation in a different language. When we do not understand the language being spoken, we hear a nose instead of a conversation.

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Irrelevant: Between what is more important and Less Important at a Given Time

Source: Irrelevant

When I have begun this Much to Tell About Nothing Blog in the beginning of this year, I was in the middle of writing my research project. This particular research project was conducted and written within the trajectory of a master’s degree in humanities that I have recently finished. Discussing the object of that particular research project in detail or to specify the program in which it has been written is not the intention of this particular blog entry. It is, after all, not my intention, and will never be my intention, to bore the readers with details. Perhaps I will do that in other post in the near future. But for now, they are just details and details are, more often than not, irrelevant.

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Overwhelming: When we think we are out of our depths 

Source: Overwhelming

At the time of writing, I am in the middle of writing my research project. Writing a research project can be a task so overwhelming and a prospect so daunting. I was overwhelmed even before I have started writing the research proposal and I am sill overwhelmed today even I am already in the middle of writing it. I have even tried to delayed the inevitable and wasted a lot of time in the past, because I was so scared to even begin.

Each day, I sit behind my desk and my computer is the first thing I turn-on in the morning. It is also the last equipment I turn-off late at night. In some days, the ideas are clear and the words are not elusive. But in most cases, I struggle to even grasp the and conceive the ideas let alone to form the words that would express it. This is particularly difficult especially for somebody like myself whose English is not the mother tongue. It even sometimes hurt to read what I have written because it shows how incompetent I am. It really does hurt.

When ideas come, they come all at the same time, but they come incoherently. Imagine pieces of jigsaw puzzle are poured on your desk. Each piece represents an idea and you must arrange them together to make a coherent narrative. That is not as easy as it sounds. It could be very frustrating. Then there is the debate within yourselves where you scrutinize the things you have said before.

Sometimes I feel that I am of my depths. I am overwhelmed by the task ahead. Sometimes, when I am sitting behind my desk and the words do not come around, I feel agitated. I get stressed and the stress manifest in my body. I get dizzy, I feel the change in my heartbeat as it goes faster, I get this pain in my lower back, sometimes I could not even breath. I want to cry, I want to scream, I even want to smash the computer.

Some of my friends have advised me that when the words and ideas are elusive, I should not stress myself so much. I should try to do something else and try to relax. Instead of writing, try to read texts that are relevant to the topic I am writing or perhaps have a long walk. That does not work for me, because it is precisely when the words and ideas are elusive that I am more determined to grasp them. I cannot help it. And when I have finally grasp them or at least think to be grasping them, I get this sense of fulfilment, so cathartic.

When all things said and done, one should not refuse to acknowledge that it is precisely because we are so overwhelmed by the task bigger than ourselves that makes such task worth fulfilling. If what we do is so easy, then where is the challenge in that? I think that it is only when we are doing something slightly above our depths that we can really discover our talents and able to reach the full potential of our lives. Imagine the gratification we will eventually get when we have finally delivered the promise we thought at first that we were not equipped to deliver in the first place.

The whole idea is to engage oneself in a project that are slightly above one’s self. It is quite gratifying to finally be able to successfully fulfil a task that we are not quite sure we are going to succeed. Being overwhelmed by something is therefore not necessarily a bad thing as long as it is within reasons. By within reason I mean that while you are quite sure that you will not fail, you are also not very sure if you would really succeed. Besides, I love writing. Not being a good writer does not make me love writing any less.

When we write, we find ourselves in a transcendental space. That space is neither here nor there while at the same time, being everywhere and simultaneously nowhere.