reading/writing (Clifford Geertz)

This blog is becoming more and more some sort of expanded or annotated bibliography/filmography for my new book. One major portion of the bibliography will feature books and articles by James Clifford and Clifford Geertz, whose writings have been invaluable for me to articulate my attempts at connecting writing sound, self-ethnography, notions of ‘fieldwork’ in sound, subjectivities in the field, and the use of archives/collections.
Here is Geertz in The Interpretation of Cultures (1973):

‘What the ethnographer is in fact faced with […] is a multiplicity of complex conceptual structures, many of them superimposed upon or knotted into one another, which are at once strange, irregular, and inexplicit, and which he must contrive somehow first to grasp and then to render. And this is true at the most down-to-earth, jungle field work levels of his activity: interviewing informants, observing rituals, eliciting kin terms, tracing property lines, censusing households . . . writing his journal. Doing ethnography is like trying to read (in the sense of “construct a reading of”) a manuscript – foreign, faded, full of ellipses, incoherencies, suspicious emendations, and tendentious commentaries, but written not in conventionalized graphs of sound but in transient examples of shaped behavior.’

 

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