The writing life requires courage, patience, persistence, openness and the willingness to be alone with oneself. To be gentle with oneself. To look at the world without blinders on. To observe and withstand what one sees. To be disciplined, and at the same time, take risks.
I’m particularly drawn to this project for several reasons. It originates from the desire of the filmmaker, Matthew Hashiguchi, to document his family’s stories. It functions as a space for his family, and other Japanese Americans, to easily share their stories and images. And, it offers a model for supplementing and providing additional perspectives to Hashiguchi’s own telling of the story through his documentary.
For my The Farm project, I’m interested in collecting and sharing stories from people who visited, lived or worked at my family’s farm. I’m hoping to use those stories to supplement/complement my own narrative/s about the Farm. I’m always looking for models for how to do that online.
Since the full version of this site won’t launch until October 6th, I can’t write a lot about how it works online right now. But, I wanted to mention Hashiguchi’s method for collecting stories:
Oral histories collected through “interview gathering sessions” conducted in select cities
Submissions e/mailed to Hashiguchi
I look forward to checking out the full site and how stories are submitted and displayed online. I checked out the Kickstarter video and I like how the stories will be mapped and how submitters can provide a name and stories/photos about their birthplace, internment camp and current location. Will that still be possible in the final version? I hope so.
In addition to collecting stories and photos from family/community members, Hashiguchi is also using archival footage:
The historical footage and photographs used were available, royalty free, through the National Archives. I’d say a majority of the historical footage comes from WWII propaganda films. Photographers Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange also made much of their work from the internment camps available to the public and for educational purposes, which is certainly what we’re doing.
After spending just a minute skimming the story bench article, I’m excited to read more about how/why the creator, Matthew Hashiguchi, created the interactive documentary to complement his traditional, feature-length documentary. He writes:
While I continued to work on the documentary film about my family, I discovered many unique stories on the Japanese American and Japanese Canadian experience that didn’t fit within the single narrative of my family. So I created the interactive web experience for people like myself and family members to share their own stories and experiences as Japanese Americans or Japanese Canadians.
This morning I listened to most of Mary Karr’s interview with Terry Gross on FRESH AIR. I was particularly struck by this line:
You know, this is my point of view. It’s not objective history. It’s memory, which is a – you know, a faulty form in terms of reportage, but which has the added advantage of showing my interior while something is happening. So hopefully a memoir shows lived experience, not surface reporting.
Over the past few days, I’ve encountered several online discussions about confessional writing. I hoped to write a blog post today in which I put some of the key ideas from these discussions into conversation with each other. But now, with only a few minutes left before my daughter gets home from school, I must concede defeat. I’ve hardly begun the post.
I’m struggling to put into words why discussions about confessional writing matter to me. I know it has something to do with all of my pre-dissertation research and writing on the importance of personal experience within feminist theory. Conversations abut confessional writing and the benefits and drawbacks of using personal experience are so central to my introduction to feminism in college that I don’t know where to begin writing about them here.
So, I’ll stop trying. Instead I will just archive the essays here in the hopes that I can return to them tomorrow…maybe after a good head-clearing walk?