Tuesday, March 18, 2008


In my museum days, I got to work with lots of cool, old stuff. Like Pacific Northwest baskets:
I developed an appreciation for this art - plant fibers, natural dyes, and an impressive amount of skill, memorization, and practice to pull one off. Some were paper thin. Others were woven so tight, they could hold water!

Over the past week (or more) as I've been tapping away at my computer, I've been thinking about weaving - stories rather than baskets. But the analogy is spot on. Actually, I've been agonizing about stories, their meanings, their narration, and how to weave them together. This dissertation-writing thing is a daunting process. (I have a better understanding of why so many people stop at this point.) Nevertheless, I'm still very happy with my topic; in fact, it gets better the more I work on it. Sometimes I marvel that I have stumbled upon such fascinating (and poignant) stories. This quickly leads me to feeling completely unequal to the task of writing them. I often wonder if these events, these people, and their stories are too important to be left in my inexperienced hands. Such thoughts dissipate with the arrival of my tuition bill, and I return to the complicated process of weaving. I would say that what I have created (up to now) has the shape and substance that this type of weaving project should. The shape is recognizable; the weave is BIG, as are some of the gaps. My weaving is coming together even if it can't yet hold water and even if it doesn't yet have any attractive patters like these*:

Unlike the Quinault (woman) who wove this basket from the bottom up, I can go back and rework any section I want. This is a consoling reminder as I struggle through the delights and disappointments of weaving.

*(I can't help but point out that, if you look at the top picture, you'll see that the pattern on the outside is invisible inside the basket!)

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