Giving form to the unformable. I think of the traditions of painting and sculpture. These objects (from the past) seems so certain, so definite, that they became embedded in the narrative what we are, where we came from and what we might be entitled to hope for.
It seems so tempting when you write: tell our/your/his/her stories, as though one is suddenly confronted by something certain and tangible. I can almost touch it, with its firm clear structure. A form that we can all understand. It makes sense. It’s reassuring to know that we live in a world that can finally be described: this happened, and then that happened and I felt this, then I felt that . . .
Of course one is really engaged in rhetorical sleight of hand, a PR exercise that might even have elements of self delusion. Though I have to accept that if the genre of confessional story telling is accepted as true and valid then we have an example of collective power. Power to impose specific political meanings on experience.
Even before we assembled this ragbag stall for our wares to slide about on and off, in and out of sight, but always there in the warehouses hired for the purpose; our wares, these bags of words, often appeared to be devoid of interest to others, too strange, too off the mark. We began with suspicion concerning words and meanings, of what this language business was about. We were suspicious of story telling particularly if it was accompanied by some sort of Protestant truth telling.
Yesterday afternoon I went to see Mr Turner, Mike Leigh’s latest movie. I loved Timothy Spall’s version of the artist. This awkward, growly creature who strove to find his way of applying paint to canvas, endlessly looking at the sea and making marks. Then if you don’t get it (like Queen Victoria) then why not bequeath everything to the nation then eventually us other poor dumb oxen will get it. And could we make of John Ruskin’s eloquence? Paint into words. Growls into paint. And it’s hard not to demand truth has a place in there somewhere. Great movie Mr Leigh.