Archive for December, 2011
Most of my patterns are improvised as those who view my UFOs and FOs on rav know by now. My main modes of fiber expression have so far been designing quilt patches mostly from handloom fabric (from India), crocheting with handdyed/handpainted yarn which is mostly (even if not always) handspun. My so-called knitting project frogged because I cannot sustain interest long enough nor do I have time away from my day job (which is really an all day all evening and all night job depending on what time of year it is and what writing and teaching projects I am in the middle of) to learn more on knitting. I tried many times to commit to buying a sewing machine but I dont see myself being able to spend time at a sewing machine – so my quilting designs are mostly simple hand sewing (with practice I hope to be better at the sewing – for now I just enjoy putting the designs together in patches I may someday sew into a quilt).
I recently (well its getting to be two years since I took my first lesson and a little over a year since I bought my four harness table loom – at a fiber market day – and my ashford antique spinning wheel -off e-bay and some spindles – off etsy…) started weaving and spinning – and have had warp anxiety and so on … the spinning wheel I have has broken parts and repairing those I am told may be more expensive than getting a new one.. .. I am waiting an thinking before getting a spinning wheel – it will have to be small and portable for now – so a spindle does the job fine and I am still learning – I have watched my mother with the charkha and the takhli spindle and since I am still in awe of her perfection in craft – I wont be able to succeed in learning those just yet (my mother has tried teaching me many things – crochet, beading, cooking, sewing, takhli spinning, charkha spinning – but I have never been successful in the face of my mother’s careful perfectionist mode of expectation and teaching – I have had to journey through learning spaces on my own and try to learn in memory – visual in my mind or through finding teachers who allowed me to make mistakes over and over again …. I am not good with paying attention when people are teaching – because once I start watching someone else doing something – I am fascinated and my mind wanders into a land of enchanted craft possibilities – if only I knew the skill – dont know if this makes sense to anyone else – I am the same when reading – therefore a very slow reader … I live and think to my own rhythm in my head – have always done so – but not many people know this – they may see this as fanciful, flightly, distracted or just plain obstinate and lazy:))
so… my crocheting practice comes from slyly watching my mother (slyly because if I let her know of my interest she will try to teach me – and I cannot learn from her! and depending on when in her age span she has tried to teach me she retreats in irritation or hurt – but I think at some level she does understand now that what I have learned I have learned from her. My father never actively tried teaching me anything (maybe some math or algebra when I was in high school – but not really) so it was easier to learn his ways – he let me lurk around – I dont know if he knew I learned that way or he was just an older father not knowing what to do with his youngest daughter born later in his life when he was fully caught up in an international travelling/journeying career.)
my crochet designs then – are free flowing but very much from having watched my mother never actually use a pattern (or so I thought – she may have poured over paper patterns but rarely) she mostly got the patterns off actual artefacts that others made and was meticulous in following that pattern (this practice she learned from her mother-in-law – who made intricate white cotton doilies and table cloths I recently discovered… will share a snapshot sometime of a piece my sister found amongst my mother’s things a while ago) – I however can neither follow a paper based (on website based ) pattern, a how to video nor can I consciously and with awareness of the stitches – get a pattern off an existing artefact.
I just crochet.
So when warping requires a different level of planning I struggle a little – but I think I will figure that out too so I can work around my own demons of perfection and my practice of learning my watching and lurking when others are not
focusing their attention on me…
Traces of existence and interaction
I have always looked for signs
Some others did not consider
Relevant or as existing
Awake before dawn much of my life
Feeling and “seeing”
And hearing and smelling
Databases and archives
In material and mind
This child my body brought forth
My mind wonders how he could have grown
In his home
The magic wonderlands
As we tried not to think of material we could not afford to own
Stories in our heads in his and mine
My not being able to narrate as my mother did
Lacking the time to be present to him in continuity
Were in narration through writing and drawing technologies he codes now
As in his home I see his
Built dawn …
Light after light that gently
Like in the fairy tales and science fiction he narrated to
In his childhood.
This morning I see tesla working with vishwakarma
Today in my inbox
arrived a poem from a dear dear friend
of expecting age to arrive with clarity….
and I turned inward thinking of my age(ing)…
I in turn
am engulfed in trying to distinguish what is memory
what is a thought
I have taken to reaching for the earth through my mother’s Gandhian
her rural memories
haunt me to return
to places that no longer exist
I imagine I spin
I spin a mental image instead
I weep afresh for the pain of disagreement between old friends
and freedom fighters
like Nehru and Gandhi
member my father’s voice as he tells me of the sadness
I weep afresh knowing I have felt this in my life in different ways
I turn to the past searching for the future
I turn to the spindle and wool roving
dreaming of my mother’s charkha
hearing her sing
watching her spin
I did not expect
that getting older for me
would mean returning to memories I do not
memories that belonged to my parents
in the lives they lived
that possess me
as I try to reconstruct histories and presents
not knowing why
on a journey to return to their past
where do mine begin and where do theirs end?
Happy winter solstice to all! Whether we call it that or not – whatever the reason any and all of us celebrate – can it be the objective truth that the stars do – in this time period and in relation to the planet earth – align in a particular configuration on this day – and this indeed is common to all?
season’s greetings – whatever it is you are celebrating this season:)
my current immersion in a network leads me back to the theme of mobility and immobility and the (problematic ) assumptions about nomadic life as mobility….
building (new) “families” as families fade and delink … what epistemic shifts in relationality occur?
what sorts of avoidance and rerouting around trauma?
and the assumption that this is is done through a particular kind of “outside of community” choice is further problematic.
nomads are never delinked or outside.
this returns us to the issue of assumptions embedded in how individual agency is interpreted and referenced in everyday discourse (not just in many theoretical writings) – as implicitly non-relational…
I probably need to return to taking a look at Braidotti and put it in conversation with Sassen…and the role of micronarratives
But for now I head back to caste, craft, colonial nation and ethnographic state.
[my initial instinct is to put this post on my LJ and/or in a private setting - and maybe I will change this into a private setting later...even here]
Being part of multiple contexts – as I immerse myself here, there and then there and here – following the connections – I am once again sinking in and getting lost in being within them – the angst, joys and practices carrying me through – I have to remind myself to write – to pick up those scattered post it notes and scribblings in the margins and make them into sentences and paragraphs… linking them to the parallel journey of reading that each intersection leads me to in order to get a broader view or more detailed historical context for….
How do I write all this without freezing and type-casting – how can the act of writing and theorizing record the active fluidity while noting the nodes and shifts and connections with clear evidence that what I see is happening?
Starting with a story that dates back to 2006 to note what seemed like a power imbalance when viewed through language and image – that hid expertise and located the Othered body in local weavers… then finding out about how existing binaries are mired in historical rewritings and encounters with various forms of romanticizing and Othering – while the materiality of everyday life shifted because of policy made in response…
how do I stack these up (do I “Stack”) – organize and write?
The positioning of particular theoretical knowledge and expertise – production modes in the space of practice – while placing others in the domain of Theory, Abstraction and drawing them into policy… when traced through history go back into a intertwining of both colonial and nationalist imaginaries… decisions made through multiple kinds of exchanges and dialogues across contexts to place them in one…
Indeed, even the writings of nationalist leaders Gandhi and Nehru reveal that they were very aware of these binaries in practice… resistance movements and later national policy was developed with this awareness..
yet the policies perpetuated some of these – and solidified particular ethnographic observations as actuality – so that even when at the time of writing those ethnographic writings were as much partial truths and shaped by ideologies and viewpoints of those writing them – as they wrote them as “history” – these ethnographic observations are now acted on as the only historical reality…
multiple histories of social movements, political movements and industrialization provide the possibility of re-routing through another strand… what sorts of shifts and collaborations might those lead to?
would this happen through grassroots everydayness, networks of active resistance, planned policy intervention?
yes the writing has to commence – but where do I start?
what are the limits to unravelling? The key nodes/knots formed that refuse to unravel – these might be the moments to stop and reflect on before unravelling further and …
[[ok ok - I will stop with the roving metaphor - there is a point when it cannot go back further -
and the metaphor can carry me to a logic that wont allow me to see something else...]]
This is why, of course, it is a good thing the MS for the Weavings book is at a stage where I cant drag it back into a full overhaul – even though I will likely add and revise a bit more before the final stage of going to press in the next couple months….
These questions will organize a into a next book project – based on which intersection I land on in the articulation of that project.
I realize now that the question “has the internet empowered the subaltern woman” is not the question to ask – in one sentence – the answer could be “yes” – in another reply the answer could be “no” – but…. it tells us nothing about what I set out to investigate in the past 18 or so years…
the point is that the “internet” is part of a logics that are even in place in processes offline – and from before the “internet” came along to “empower” the subaltern (at the risk of sounding repetitive and restating what many others have stated).
the issue then is why is the “internet” considered an outsider and who does the “west” vs “rest” binary serve.
My articles from Development in practice and Gender and Development – from 1999 – both fail to extricate themselves from this binary… because they start with the question and assumption of empowerment through the internet – which is a question imposed from a logic that such research is forced into – and therefore is a logic even non-profits and ngos are complicit in.
more on this in the book – perhaps.
As I work on the final revisions on the book manuscript while the publishers examine the camera-ready samples – I once again got caught in an archive search frenzy.
Also my continuing work and leisure in various mostly women-centered networks (because the practice of knitting and related fiber craft is still gendered as a female activity) made me think back on the spoon collective listprocs I founded and ran in the 1990s – women-writing-culture, third-world-women and sa-cyborgs.
Discussions on that are still relevant – and suddenly I need to find archives if I am to historicize net presences of women writing and creating and connecting through the internets…
Early morning hours of reading and writing and thinking….
Today’s understanding…. Encapsulated by code words hook and spindle….
No sunrise yet at the time of writing and reading
curtains not yet pulled apart to see if…
But I anticipate a beautiful mood…