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The (I) of the Text: Visualizing Writing in Art Education

This website/sight explores the nature of subjectivity and reflexivity within writing and art-making processes. This assemblage of words and images reaches toward coherence, but desires evocation…

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What is said is always in relation to what will never be expressed. At these extreme limits we recognize ourselves.

~Edmond Jabès, 1993

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How does writing appear?

Compression (above) is a pictorial representation of my experience of conceptualizing the process of writing. I think of it as a landscape. I spent several years drawing and writing this scene. Even before committing marks to paper, even before I began my writing research, the scene was present. Not in a literal, tangible sense, but the structure lingered in my unconscious, becoming visible to me later when I began to explore and assess the corpus of writings in the case.

The image Compression attempts to represent how writing “looks and feels” to me. The open area in the center of the image gestures toward the effort to clear space for the presence of uncertainties, explorations, and discoveries; an effort to hold open and even preserve the tension between the blurriness of wondering and the sharpened acuities of language and expression. In my writing, I am always seeking ruptures where doubt pushes up against certainty, where questions are unfurled, where possibilities are invited.

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The writer’s identity:

Lacanian theory views the human subject who thinks and speaks and interacts with others as the Imaginary register of the ego, the “me” that fits with one’s self-image, a coherent, unified sense of self. However, because one’s perception of self-unity and coherence is formed from repression of desires that threaten to disrupt the stability of what is perceived as “me” or “I,” conscious subjectivity is not the complete story of a subject’s self. The self is also comprised of the unconscious, the knowledge that a subject cannot bear to know.

Unbearable knowledge is inaccessible to conscious awareness. Yet, paradoxically, as the most intimate aspect of subjectivity, the unconscious reveals itself to others without our conscious awareness. The extimate unconscious is also the traumatic kernel of being around which all my signifiers circulate in the service of repressing and deferring what we cannot bear to know—this constitutes what we call identity. Each person has their own traumatic kernel, their own unthought unknown.

The unconscious desire for ignorance is much more powerful than the conscious desire to know. I realize now that it was only by loosening my grasp on truth, and by learning to dwell in the anxiety of uncertainty, that clearings might be created for building sense differently, building something other.    

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