Transitions

I created this blog on the day I handed in my PhD thesis for examination. I’d just had several months of intense editing, formatting and reference checking, and wanted to play with writing in another mode.

I wasn’t sure what to call it – my initial ideas had already been taken – but as I sat trying to come up with something appropriate, I heard a news item about the death of a boxing ‘cut man’ who had been present at a number of key fights last century, including, the newsreader said, the famous ‘Rumble in the Jumble’.

I liked it: the lurch from the original sense of ‘rumble’ – somewhat ominous and portentous – to the benignly disordered ‘jumble’; the sense and nonsenseness of it; the association with fossicking, which fitted with what I envisaged being a focus of the blog; and the sense of something not immediately visible, but present. It’s also determinedly not ‘market’-focused: I’m currently very tired of writers as brands.

One of the things about writing over time is that patterns emerge. I see in the posts to date that I’ve been preoccupied with authenticity, in various forms; interactions with ‘environment’, broadly defined; the-past-in-the-present; and palimpsest. This makes sense to me, given my research and broader interests.

On the other hand, I’m surprised by some other patterns. The recurrence of ‘stone’, for example, may reflect the fact that I spent several months last year in the UK and Europe – but also contrasts with the poems I was working on for my thesis, which are full of water.

A few days ago I discovered an interesting essay by Nicholas Chare on the Rollright Stones*; it reminded me of the importance of the concept of ‘transition’ in regard to Neolithic monuments (which, along with much else, gave me additional food for thought in relation to the Merry Maidens). It also included a couple of apposite epigraphs, one of them from Barthes: ‘To write by fragments: the fragments are then so many stones on the perimeter of a circle.’

Yesterday, my examined and accepted thesis was accessioned by the university library, the last step before the degree is awarded. Milestone – or maybe stepping stone (for its watery associations) – or another perimeter stone, associated with a less determinate transition.

* Nicholas Chare, ‘Writing Perceptions: The Matter of Words and the Rollright Stones’, in Creative Writing and Art History, ed. Catherine Grant and Patricia Rubin (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 22-45.

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