08. Methodology (pt 2 of 2)

Hart’s (2000) paper on transpersonal psychology puts forward a method of inquiry in which inspiration is seen as an activity of knowing, achieved in a nonrational process (p. 31). This view sums up my approach of choosing the phenomenology research method from the perspective of autoethnography in relation to experiences of opening up to inspiration while making art. I drew from the autoethnography approach of dealing with human nature, by learning about the self and discovering experiences and knowledge that can be shared with others.

The autoethnography approach focuses on the researcher describing personal experiences and linking them to other experiences for analysis. I suggest taking this approach one step forward: not only do I describe my experiences and link them to others’, but I also step out of the personal observation of my experiences and construct the step-by-step process by which experiences came to happen. I do not merely describe the moment of the experience, but document the process that lead to such a moment: the actual stages of sensing, feeling and reflecting. I describe the way I feel and think, explaining what I actually do in order to be inspired. My contribution is in putting forward the details of how an event develops; the unfolding process of the creation of the experience – not just the external influences but also the internal within me, so that any one can learn and join.

My approach offers to take a global event – the nature of human experience in creative action – and turn it specific by detailing the steps of its developments, so that anyone can learn. Theory, in my case, comes later to support my argument and not to be structured upon.

Another development that I suggest evolves around the use of the first person in the text. In autoethnography studies the first person ‘I’ is used by the researcher to allow for reflexivity and includes the researcher’s own voice and opinions as part of the findings of the text (Holt, 2003: 2). This takes into account the importance of the researcher’s opinion and subjectivity in constructing findings, however the speaker’s ‘I’ in the text is separated from the ‘I’ that had the experience studied. In my research I use the first person ‘I’ not as a psychological observer but as the space in which the experience happens, the ‘container’ of the inspiration.

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