8.1.1 Phenomenology (pt 2 of 2)

8.1.1.6 The mundane

By focusing on the things that matter to the participant, the phenomenological approach emphasises the mundane, the simple things that one encounters in one’s daily life. Attention to the mundane is important to this research, which recognises that inspiration occurs in daily life as part of normal activity, and not as a remote meditative experience only available to a few unique people.

8.1.1.7 Identification and objectivity

Instead of applying predefined theories to different people in different cultures or times, phenomenology encourages the researcher to see through the eyes of the participants by suspending their own belief systems as they gather data. Data is collected in all its complexities and depths, even to the extent of recording irrational and contradictory experiences that were observed. If such events happen, then they will be brought forth to the research, because they describe the event or experiences of participants, and not the belief system of the researcher – or, indeed, the literature. However, the data will later be examined in terms of the literature for the purpose of constructing a logical narrative that can shed light on the creative process and be replicable by others. Evaluation and explanations are required if one chooses phenomenology, since events that are known only through the senses and not via the mind tend to lack coherency.

8.1.1.8 Participation

By valuing the way people think, phenomenology sees people’s perspectives and points of view as a topic of interest for research. People are seen as creative beings that have a say and influence on their lives, not as passive respondents. Similarly, I have observed that the creative flow is often enabled by artists who simply seem to take responsibility for their inner urges to create, and thus they create art. While talent can be refined through practice, personal responsibility for the ‘inner call’ must come from the person himself. This was noted in a final art experiment undertaken for this research (see chapter 14), where participants were asked to view themselves as active creators, a perspective which resulted in participants demonstrating a strong sense of access to their inner creative forms of thinking, and acting artistically upon those thoughts.

8.1.1.9 Personality

Other research methods, such as positivism, seek to distance themselves from the so-called personal influences of the researcher. Yet, personal influences and background seem to be the foundation of creative processes in which inspiration transforms from an idea into art. The phenomenological approach accepts subjective experiences as valid data, encouraging the researcher to explore subjective feelings that inspire others as well as those that inspire the researcher himself (an important point in my case, since I am both the researcher and the artist). This touches on the fact that the academic researcher is a person, a human being, and not an objective so-called food-processor that simply receives information and processes it to a desired outcome.

8.1.1.10. First person

For this reason, throughout this thesis I will avoid using the third person form to comment on the research; rather, I will use the first person form ‘I’. I wrote this thesis, and I stand behind it. I am also one of the participants and the observed artists for this research. Clandinin and Connelly (2000: 9) remind us that it is always the ‘I’ who writes the text, and Derrida (Kofman & Kirby, 2002) defines the attempt by classical philosophers and biographers to remove the authors from the writings as ‘pretence’. Derrida suggests the Deconstructionist approach, where text is examined to reveal how the author constructed it and how the reader understands it. Foucault (1988: 115) explains that before we look at a study, we need to understand the role of the author of the work, since behind any study – be it a study in science, art, philosophy, history, literature – stands an author who wrote it. More so, Foucault argues that the bibliography section at the end of a research does not only show the sources from which the author drew, but also the connections and modifications of ideas that the author orchestrated.

In my short performance and film The Prince of Hampshire (2006; DVD disc of the film is enclosed to the [printed] thesis) I relate to the authenticity of words by saying, ‘…this is why the Egyptians embedded their words in stone’. However, with our modern technology words are not embedded in stones anymore, but rather they are usually composed in electronic forms which are non-tangible and can easily be erased. Words become loose in such non-permanent media, therefore, in this research I shall give the words their ‘birthright’ of association with their author.

Leave a Reply