Edited Inksheds on Session 8: Cultural survival and personal narrative (Samia and Hourig)

Ethos. The ultimate power trip. You can't respond with rationality and cool dispassionate logic to the experience of unimaginable suffering. Story is unanswerable, though perhaps it's respondable to. -- Russ Hunt. [comment: Someone else's story is unanswerable. We can only respond to our own. And maybe that's the power of story. And of this whole exercise.]

Samia and Hourig

coming to terms with such events, as these students did, can be therapeutic and reconstitutive and renewing. But other than these special efforts (projects!), oughtn't we to find time continually to allow / enable students to recover and tell their stories? Patrick. [comment: I don't know (and it's arrogant to be skeptical, I guess) that talking about it is therapeutic and renewing.]

How is it that the power of written language to represent or reflect or capture some idea or event--particularly such a terrible event--is lost? So do we reduce or remove the impact of testimony by transforming it into History? In the same way that the Inuit stories that Martin recounted become domesticated or emptied by reframing in ethnography, do we destroy the past by reframing it as curriculum, or as "lessons" to be learned, or as abstractions or generalizations?

I'm struck in both of these videos by how cold and appraising the camera can be, how devastating a weapon. Where are we (as audience) while Ani is crying and saying she doesn't want to talk about it, and we keep looking, and waiting, and looking, and waiting? -- Russ

Samia your story makes real a distinction we have been grappling with for two days. Writing as "expedient" - writing for a goal such as getting the education to get the scholarships to get out of hell. Writing as a journey into the self--to understand and to contextualize a self that is under so much stress that it cannot afford not to keep asking the caterpillar's question "who are you?" Both goals inseparable and both more important than we can possibly realize. -- Doug.

Imperialism begins at home, of course, and the delusions of freedom feed into fantasies of our self-invention. Lynn Holmes.

Perhaps it is the act of recording itself that makes the most crucial event , triggers remembering. -- Chris Holmes.

The horror the horror so much suffering and now other marches as we watch unfolding horrors in Bosnia in Kosovo--and we keep walking, and we keep watching, and there is no miracle. -- Janna.

I was shocked at what I have seen and heard. One of my initial responses was anger at Hourig: Hourig, why did you have to show us this? This is too painful! I don't want to face this!" But after a few minutes of calming down I began to accept that what I have seen is reality, not stories. And there are thousands and thousands more stories like this in the world and these stories are alive in the memories and lives of our students.

I feel Samia and Hourig's presentations, like a wind that sweeps clean all our self-important academicese. We take our privileges here in North America and our hearts are so rarely appealed to, or opened as they were this morning by these two deeply moving presentations.

I never imagined the impact of it would have been this way. The deadly silence that befell the room after the film was over was the most outspoken silence I have ever heard.

Hourig, I wished that the camera would stop filming when the last speaker said "I don't want to do this anymore." I assume she gave permission later for the film to be edited this way [ed. Note: she did.] Having said that, I am struck by the redemptive quality of the experience for your students.


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