Since each of us was several, there was quite a crowd. Here we have made use of everything that came within range, what was closest as well as fartherest away. (Deleuze & Guattari, in the introduction to A Thousand Plateaus, 3)

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Uncanny

When I first thought about doing this project, a major attraction was the possibility of exploring other ways of looking and writing about quilts (Freud and his theories were the focus of my master's thesis). From a position of ignorance I thought Deleuze and Guattari would represent a new starting point for my ongoing work. I already knew Felix Guattari was a psychoanalyst so why was I surprised to find that no, this was not to be a new starting point but more of the next marker along the way!

But I have entitled this post, 'The Uncanny' (a reference of course to Freud's essay on the subject) so I will now explain why:

Tidying the kitchen table yesterday I came across my recent copy of 'gleebooks gleaner' which I had already read but hadn't noticed the small ad in the bottom left hand corner of the back page for a workshop to be held at the NSW Writers' Centre on December 13th: Prof Robin Hemley of Iowa University is to spend a day 'Exploring Creative Non-Fiction', the very thing that drives me forward...and I know about the Iowa Writing Program (it's famous!).

So I rang this morning just before 9am. Yes, there are still places but another person (Julie) will phone me back, the workshop is for experienced, published writers working on a creative non-fiction project and will I qualify?
(Please, please yes!).

So what is uncanny about this, you ask?

The NSW Writers' Centre is located in the grounds of Callan Park, now Sydney College of the Arts. It is 'Garryowen' the very house John Ryan Brenan, my great great great grand father built in 1839!

I grew up thinking it was family mythology that we once owned a grand house on the banks of the Parramatta River (by this I mean wishful, fanciful, after all my grandmother also thought I should marry Prince Charles...), a family story which also claimed the house and grounds were lost in a card game by 'wicked Uncle Joe' (John Ryan's third son, born 1824).

All this was changed when Em started telling me about her final year architecture project, 'Reconfiguring the Wall'. I had laughed telling her my grandmother had believed the family had one owned the property and when I mentioned the family name, Em had replied yes--her research in the Mitchell Library confirmed the family story!

What is more, it is the subject of one of the quilts this project is all about and the connections are now only in the distant past but reach forward into the present, dance around us, encircle us. It may be chance, it may be fate but they are indisputable and unbreakable.

Phone call: I'm in to the masterclass!!

Notes: Sigmund Freud's essay is to be found in volume 14: Art and Literature of the Penguin Freud Library1985, p335-376
An image of the house can be found on the NSW Wriers' Centre website
The image at the beginning of this post is another taken during the process of rebinding Meadow's book

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