One of my colleagues noted my reference to Omar Khayyám at the end of my last blog — ‘The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on’, and about not being able to ‘cancel half a line’. The past cannot be changed. But in the process of writing about it, one’s thinking certainly can change.
There are so many layers in the brief interview events we are writing about; and taking the time necessary to edit continues to reveal more – not only about what is going on with the people we are talking to, but also what we learn about ourselves as researchers, what we are doing in the conversation, and what we therefore need to do in the future.
The transcript of the interview is only the beginning. In writing about it so much more comes into view. Seeing all of us in the interview as small culture formation on the go is liberating and disciplining. The close editing of what we can say about the interview comes down to the deep nuances of the nature of evidence, and prejudice, and what can be claimed. But it also takes in what we are able to know about a wider world.
Sorting out ‘grand narratives’ from ‘personal narratives’ from discourses may seem inconsequential theorising. Sorting the winks from the twitches in Geertz’s terms. But this is getting to the bottom of things; and it does help us unravel the deep architecture of cultural prejudice.
And then, one of the people we interviewed walks by at the very moment that I’m struggling with the text. We talk about it, as much as I can say, just for a moment. It was a year and a half ago. She may have long forgotten what she said. But I am reminded about her being a person among other people. And the text of the interview becomes even more related to all the other things that are happening; and that becomes part of the unravelling.