Friday, October 14, 2005

Talking vs. Writing

So I had a great meeting today with my actual committee chair. We walked through the map analysis (tedious and long, but not hard, it turns out, although HIGHLY interpretive and analytical, which will be ... challenging) and then talked through my findings so far and the direction I think this whole thing is headed.

And here's the thing: I think I'm headed somewhere. Who knows how lost I will be tomorrow, especially when in the maze of writing minutiae, but for today, I know what I'm saying, and it makes sense. Lord halleluia. Praise the goddess.

I think it is amazing that when I think in outline form or even just tell the story of my thesis, it's all right there. It makes sense. If someone could just interview me in order to graduate, this would be a cakewalk.

Somehow, in the writing, all my fears find me. My brain is too quick for me, and as soon as I write a sentence, I think of 3 other ways to interpret it, or 3 contradictory examples, or 3 other offshoots that will each take pages to explain. And I'm suddenly overwhelmed and lost. I lose the narrative; I lose the point; and I lose my nerve. It's exhausting and infuriating and really really scary.

For the moment, I am hopeful. This weekend for map analysis. Next week for write-up and more theory research. Next weekend for more theory write-up. That will take me close -- very close -- to the tail end. I talked through the conclusion today and the thing that was stopping me dead in my tracks turns out to not be an issue at all! I love that. My chair simply made it disappear with the application of a different theorist. Just like that! Change the criteria, and you change everything. That's quantum reality for you!

I'm adding Kevin Lynch's performance criteria for place, which neatly sidesteps the flaw in urban design theory, such as New Urbanism, that proposes the way something looks as an answer for a real problem. Lynch says, the way it looks doesn't matter. What matters is accessibility, control, flexibility, fit and ... I can't remember the last one. So I don't HAVE to know what a space for different identities will look like. There is no such thing. What I have to propose is a process that recognizes different groups will have different needs and cultural uses of the space and that is structured in such a way as to elicit and include all the disparate voices and balance them in the design. Plug in Lynch's performance criteria, and you will be able to tell whether what you're proposing at the end will work well for the different groups. Viola! It's a conclusion.

It's coming, it's coming, it's coming! What was clogged is unstuck, and I resolve to stay elusively slippery and free.

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