I had an idea. I tried carving into an apple with my stamp carving tools. It would have worked, except that I ran out of room for what I wanted to say, and I had grabbed the apple because it was near me in the kitchen, not because it had anything to do with what I wanted to communicate. I was struck by this quote earlier today, by Reynold Price, which I found on Wikipedia’s “Storytelling” page:
A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo sapiens – second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter. Millions survive without love or home, almost none in silence; the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative, and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives, from the small accounts of our day’s events to the vast incommunicable constructs of psychopaths. – Reynold Price
I was especially moved by the part about silence – the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative. What does that mean? Does it mean that story is always on the peripheral, or more so, always at the center though not always clear? Gottschall states that story is the universal grammar: every culture has story, every people, every socio-economic class, every race, every age, every sexual orientation, every possible category you could devise, we all have story.
In my Education and Public Policy class, we are talking about the public narrative. We read Bruner, who explains that there are two ways of ordering, experiencing, and constructing reality: narrative, and analysis. We read Gantz, who explains the public narrative as the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now.
The opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative. What does that mean?
I chose to needle felt wool yarn onto an old, shrunken wool sweater, as my final project for this assignment. I chose these materials because they created a permanent message on something that could be worn (if it wasn’t so small), or hung on the wall, or given to someone else. I guess I was concerned not only with how the message aligned with the material, but also the potential option(s) for circulation – who would be reading this, and how? I drew inspiration from Jody Shipka’s students who wrote essays on non-paper items: a shirt, and ballet shoes. These may or may not have been linked to the assignment that asked her students to (re)present moments of learning in their own personal histories.
The opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative. I want to read this as “The presence of silence leads quickly to narrative,” as my mind always seems to fill open space with potential scenarios, dreams, replays, thoughts….we think in narrative form. Still, the opposite of silence – what is that? Noise? Noise leads quickly to narrative? Will noise/sound/speech/buzzing/humming/the materials available to me at any given moment, lend themselves immediately to story given a proper catalyst?
Gantz says that the story of now is urgent. The story of now is a story of hope, and the key to hope, Gantz says, is strategy. A plan of action. I created this piece of writing, this writing technology, as a means of responding to that story. I needed to complete the work, but I also needed a message. We’ve all seen (or wish we hadn’t seen) t-shirts with slogans, and here I thought that doing it myself would require a stencil, screen printing, or a bleach pen. Instead, I can use wool! I can communicate with fibers, I can literally see and touch the materiality of writing. I understand (now) that writing is a technology, and one that can be sometimes slow and intentional, moveable, and dependent on time/space/place/communicative goal/what’s in your house and when.
Here’s a story. And a sweater.