Friday, September 13, 2013

Some Thoughts on Dissertating and Sonosophy

I finished a draft of my dissertation intro last night. Here's a wordle of the chapter text to (sort of) prove it; it shows the preoccupations of my language, foremost among them being Caldiero, work, performance, words. Go figure, huh? Anyway, technically speaking, I should have written the introduction last, after everything else in the dissertation was pretty well established. But I didn't. Will that turn out to be a mistake when I finish the project and realize I may need to redo the intro to fit the actual end-product? Maybe. I'm not too concerned, though. I needed to feel my way back into the project and writing the introduction helped renew my vision of where and how I want to pursue my exploration of sonosophy. I did something similar with Field Notes on Language and Kinship and it seemed to work pretty well in terms of keeping myself aligned with what I wanted the book to look like. So: fingers crossed that I haven't shot my dissertation progress in the foot by writing the intro first.

Not only did beginning with the intro help me renew my vision of a project that's been simmering on the back burner for too long (WAY too long, if you ask my wife), it also helped me establish my personal stake in the subject, which I've stated as follows:

Sonosophy demands that I remove the mask of scholarly dispassion and objectivity, that I put myself on the line in order to meet my subject face to face, to be known by others as I seek to know them. It demands that I open myself to the world’s manifold figures and forms, to the beings, the objects, and the ideas with which I share space. It demands that I listen deeply for and to their presence, that I let myself be moved as they move, that I feel deeply into their experience and let myself feel that experience deeply.

The intro serves as my opening statement, then. In addition to relating what sonosophy demands of me, it also traces the development of my relationship with sonosopher and sonosophy, from my first encounter with the name "Alex Caldiero" to my own attempts to apply his sonosophic methods in performance. In the process, I illustrate the deep influence Alex has had on me as an observer, a performer, and a human. It also introduces the ethnographic methods I’ll be using throughout the dissertation to explore Alex's work and its functions and implications for language users. And my use of these methods segues well into my methodology chapter, which I started as soon as I finished the intro.

In short, then: I'm actively dissertating, for real now. No more teasing. Ima get this thing done.