Tuesday, May 4, 2010
I guess today has been one of those days when life seems to be art. I can now see how all my experiences from meeting a diverse group of women throughout my periods of hospitalisation, has shaped my understanding of women characters. The very essence of these women are beginning to find their place inside the lives of my fictional characters. When these real life women speak, their stories are those of my characters. It is what makes my artefact work (my PhD novel) so difficult to pull together.
On the one hand I have this need to be true to the people whose lives have driven me to commit them to paper. Yet, I also need to strive for verisimilitude and realism. This means that I am cannibalising all my lived experiences and interpersonal interactions. I feel guilty that I am 'using' people and exploiting their moments of vulnerability... yet somehow this vulnerability strikes me as being the essence of Everywoman's experience. I have capitalised the E to draw comparisons to the medieval mystery plays' Everyman.
I am attempting to get onto paper the very essence of male/female relationships and the inherent miscommunication and misunderstandings that come to the fore during periods of crisis and stress.
Whilst I sit here at the keyboard I can pontificate and even generalise as suits my purpose as 'narrator' yet I know that as people read these words and those of my novel I need them to identify and even feel that I have 'stolen' from their stories. the essence has to be THAT REAL for my linear plot development to hang together.
I guess this is why my PhD supervisor is asking me to think about utilising fictocritism as my guiding frame.
"Creative nonfiction differs from fiction because it is necessarily and scrupulously accurate and the presentation of information, a teaching element to readers, is paramount. Creative nonfiction differs from traditional reportage, however, because balance is unnecessary and subjectivity is not only permitted but encouraged." Guttkind 1997.
So for the sake of 'scrupulous accuracy' I must use my experience from the talking therapy sessions with my co-patients but must also divorce the key issues and themes from the personal spaces. I need to take a type of Brechtian approach, in that my very selectivity is the space where the author speaks, and where I would contend the TRUTH is revealed in all its' subjective glory. It is my notion of TRUTH and my reading of women's experience based on years of research fieldwork, if you will. My mind is trawling through virtual diary notes and interview transcripts to create the WOMAN'S lived experience in text.
So when I discuss the fact that from my perspective I can easily see how the psychological term hysteria came to be gendered according to female anatomy and biochemistry. What I can also see is how the patriarchy used it to denigrate women's emotions and reactions to stressful situations.
I have seen today, just how many women are totally distressed by their familial relationships and domestic expectations and the price they pay for this societal pressure is personally immense and damaging. One could almost state that Depression seemes intrinsically linked to the middle-class female role in C21st Australia, but that would be to ignore that men do suffer from role pressures and mental illness.
Are women more vulnerable to the disconnect between expectations (familial, social and self) and actual roles in life than men?
If so, why?
To me from my observor/particpant-viewpoint, perhaps the very brain chemistry (or neurological wiring) which enables women to multi-task, and to have more prominantly developed communication areas of the cerebral cortex complete with 'more traffic' crossing the corpus callosum is responsible for some type of neurological 'blackout' or 'short'? Is that the medical the basis for the stress overload so often articulated by women in hospital? Is there actual research on this? If so I need to find it.
These ideas and questions need to be carefully thought through as I write my way through this gender minefield. Watch this space.... I need another 'ablution breakthrough illumination'.