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Final: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17f8B3_IX4SmDIgM4GAb3n6-JAGGVsB6zSEMUwA72DLw/edit#

Older drafts: jujube/thesis-drafts

Feedback on thesis introduction (emails in December)

Some general comments:

I think it's imperative in a project of this kind that you keep a clear, strong sense of your main themes in mind. From my reading of your work so far, I'd say these were as follows:

  • Search for form
  • Finding a 'home' in language
  • The relation between word and image

Of course there's some overlap between these. I feel that these have been a lost a little in this second version.

Do also be careful not to compress your writing so that nuance is lost. I feel this has happened in the following instance:

In your previous version you wrote:

'I have been in search of the form of my practice, just like I have been in search of home.'

I thought this a very strong and poetic statement (below I have copied out the comment I wrote about this, which I'd like you to think about*). But in your revised version this formulation has been compressed as follows:

'What is form. What is home.'

I feel this second version is a lot less open, and generous to the reader.

I'd advise you now to put the introduction to one side if you can, and to focus on drafting chapter 1. If you were able to send this to me before our meeting on 9 Jan that would be great—I would aim to read and comment on it before we meet.

With best wishes,


  • I think this would make a powerful opening statement. You could then

step back to talk about the complex linguistic landscape you inhabit (material you have shown me previously). You could then (for the thesis if not for the publication) expand this to set out the aims of your thesis—to consider your film-making practice as a search for form, with reference to your writing practice in English, and your critical readings of work by other makers—writers, film-makers—who operate in a similarly hybrid context, and name the key figures you will be considering (if you are focusing on 2-3 specific makers), or broad descriptions of the kinds of works you will be considering, if there are many you will be looking at. Go on to describe your approach—the combination of the critical and the subjective, in the mode of experimental memoir—and then give an overview (just a broad outline) of the chapters to follow.

think you can seek some out yourself—if you take Maggie Nelson's *The Argonauts* and Chris Kraus's *I Love Dick* as starting points, you'll be able to track these down easily enough. But there is a book which I'm going to suggest you take a look at though I've not read it—Han Kang's *The White Book *(trans. Deborah Smith). It's an experimental memoir which is quite fragmented, and is highly visual, according to Deborah Levy's very compelling review in *The Guardian.* Given your plan to write about the role of recurring images in your personal mythology, I thought it might be quite interesting for you to look at how images are used in her writing. I also thought it might be useful for you to explore the writing of artists who identify as both writers *and* film-makers, such as Xiaolu Guo.

Feedback on Proposal (27/11 skype with Natasha)

In my case, the aim of the proposal is to turn it into an introduction (for the delivery in mid-December). Introduction is an invitation that intrigues the readers. It can (probably should) be consistent with the personal tone. It sets the scope, the questions I want to answer, and the rationale of the methodology chosen. (I have no trouble doing these in an academic essay. So the challenge of writing right now is to do so personally, openly, critically.)

"Obliqueness can serve purpose in poetry." But probably not here.

Find a personal way to phrase the statement.

Documentation of Practice =>> Notes from Production. In my head there is a hierarchy of questions. There is the overarching questions (the lukewarm ones whose specificity I have not voiced!) and there are the more concrete questions that I raise for myself before/during the shoot — questioning the way I create an image, how I refine it, how I introduce, construct and convey meaning, how I test them. These are the trial-and-error for me.

There is some crossover between Notes from Production and Critical Reflection <- Does this become a way of flattening the vertical hierarchy of the questions/way of inquiring? Do I previledge one sort of questions over another? Something to be said about how devising methods in film shoots and answering the concrete questions is satisfying! Perhaps that's what research is!

- The chronology of my practice: writing precedes filmmaking - complexity of the dialogue of these two

- I write to think through

- Image (stills from the film and others) as structure for the thesis: re-examine the photo book index idea?

- Memoir: set a place and time for the reader| Read some more experimental memoir

- Unpack ideas (no need to cut things out rn)

- When you talk about Mulvey, also talk about the films you see (include ALL the materials - do not previledge one over the other)

- Does the text from architecture/geography come back? (Maybe, maybe not, it's part of the scope...write to find out!)

- Criticality is not necessarily academic speak. Read Hito Steryl again.

Natasha asks the questions about scope. "All my inquiries are based on the voice/drive from within," I said. Our discussion turns out to be a way for me to soften, to let go of certain ideas, to get to the essence of what my practice is. A life thesis. Right now, I observe, the questions I put in the proposal seem "lukewarm" — I should talk about empathy v. catharsis. I should ask myself what are the questions I dare not ask.


I have been in search of form, just like I have been in search of home. My practice, once armored with sureness and didacticism, has shed its skin. I look into this new bareness. I see its core: there, weathered, softened, illuminated — the longing to tell stories.

Stories of love, loss and redemption, says the host of the podcast Modern Love. I wonder how many of us stumble across the wasteland of correctness waiting to be moved, understood, waiting for a smile and to smile ourselves. Waiting, wanting. I want to tell stories of the heart: how it aches, weeps, heals, hopes, with its sentience, its sorrow, its wounded kisses. I want to tell them as deeply and sincerely as I can, with as much humility and compassion as I uphold. I have written with images. I have spoken without words.

I have become a filmmaker.







memory-image, exile, diaspora, loss


grief, self-understanding, longing, loneliness, care, ritual


narrativity of image, affect evoked by memory, aesthetics as bond (between the self and others)