My PDP – Dissertation 2015Posted: February 3, 2015
Receiving a 1st for my dissertation proposal was particularly encouraging for me because whilst receiving a good mark I was told that what I was arguing for had jumped the gun and not proved some key concepts that needed exploring before carrying on to what I believed my dissertation would be about. For this reason I assume that my writing style and format was coherent enough to give me good marks. Unstable ideas about the relationship between truth and comedy became my new dissertation focus, because I’d previously made assumptions on these topics, which I now realize were intellectually naive.
Getting started on my dissertation has been a slow laborious task. Apart from research-reading and amassing notes I had put it at the back of my mind until my exhibition in Bristol was over and done with.
That was back in October so my excuses were fading by mid September when I was forcing myself to get a clumsy sentence down every few days. Because of current personal stresses concerning family, friends, and relationships I’ve found sporadic drawing and painting therapeutic and enjoyable. But collecting my thoughts in a way that’s needed for heavy essay writing has been near impossible.
Drawing and painting and creating visually is pleasing and calming and can be done in spite of erratic thinking which is definitely how I would describe my state of mind over the last few months. Knowing that I had to get my brain prepared for writing my dissertation I took to the Internet for advice on mind-emptying practices.
Naturally being pulled towards artists and creative thinkers as influences, I quickly found videos and sound recordings of benefit events for the David Lynch Foundation which states it’s purpose as ‘Overcoming Trauma. Transforming lives’. I was interested in Transcendental Meditation which the D.L Foundation recommends, because hearing David Lynch describe it’s uses at a recorded video of one of his benefit events made it sound very conducive to the creative flow from which I felt blocked at the time. Being a fan of Lynch’s films and being able to appreciate his creativity through his super-strange vision, I was willing to give a chance to what he considered the source of his energy (T.M). Also, a person I’ve been researching for both my dissertation and my subject-work, American Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, (co-creator/writer of TV series ‘Seinfeld’) has been bragging about the mental and physical energy gained through practicing T.M twice a day. Through these influences Transcendental Meditation was becoming a possible solution to my jumbled, overcrowded thoughts.
I decided that I would take my curiosity of Transcendental Meditation and discuss it with my Illustration tutor Anna, who I knew taught meditation of some kind, but I didn’t yet no which.
Anna had previously practiced T.M for years, but said that she is now using and teaching Mindfulness Meditation and is a lot happier with the effects of that practice because of it’s focus on losing all conscious efforts (whereas TM uses a mantra, which is a use of the conscious will). Myself and another student received a Mindfulness meditation class form Anna.
The MM lesson was very therapeutic and helps relieve me of crowded thoughts. I have only kept it up for a few days at a time because my tutor advised me that it doesn’t work around frequent binge drinking. From this I concluded that the best religion for me to practice would be Catholicism or Protestantism which are both heavily populated by binge drinkers, in the UK at least.
Whilst occasonally trying the meditation techniques that Anna taught me I’ve been able to get started on my dissertation writing at last. I’ve also had some very useful tutorials with Chris Glynn in which I’ve spoken at length about my chosen topics and how these constellation topics are affecting my Illustration practices.
Studying Comedy, humour and other kinds of theatrical arts has got me moving away from what i originally thought of as traditional illustrated humour (Far Side comic strips etc). Illustrated humour relies on being current to be funny more than stage and written comedy does because humour relies on context, and until photography, setting context in an image (like in oil painting for example) meant putting in a lot of work. And this was rarely used for humour as large oil paintings and sculptures in western history has often been funded by the church, which is allergic to humour (humour and comedy gives religion a really bad rash behind the knees, it’s not an animal allergy causing the rash because the church had a donkey when it was young and it didn’t have a rash then). So my work on my dissertation studies is filtering into my subject work, for which I’m currently writing a performance piece to be recorded and accompanied with a haunting soundtrack that myself and a friend are making for it.
Studying the history of the western world through humour studies, with the intention of finding out whether public opinion can be extrapolated through humour artefacts can be confusing. In fact, studying humour at all with the intention of proving anything can be like chasing a sausage which is dangling in front f your eyes suspended by the stick tied to your back, because humour has no statement of intent. It is part of many aspects of social nature and if you study it closely you start to forget where the humour was in the artefact that you’re studying, confusing the humour for just a breach of ethics or norms (which is a big part of what humour is, but humour balances over it as if on a tightrope; if it wobbles too much to the violation side it fails and if it leans too harshly into benign commentary then it falls flat on it’s face.
The one reliable area of study for humour is stage comedy or stand-up comedy. This is because the professionals in these areas are playing to an audience that they have to understand, and so a consensus is sought. With this consensus, the tricksters, clowns and comedians know what they have to pull out to surprise or shock an audience. Onstage comedy is a reflection of the audience turned on it’s head.
My main dissertation stresses are all about pressure and not about a lack of knowledge on the subject matter, and not really even about a lack of ability to write coherently which is a worry of mine. I haven’t practiced my essay writing enough recently and easily notice a struggle for coherency which wasn’t an issue a couple of years ago when i’d been on a writing corse for the best part of a year. I’m hoping that If i keep writing blog posts, I will eventually feel more comfortable ploughing through my dissertation. A reliable friend for random facts from studies tells me that using social networking sites such as facebook can affect a person’s writing skills in the predictable way of bad structuring of sentencing etc. Ah well – I’ll just use facbook for the pictures until i’ve turned my dissertation in then! Or get sectioned or run away and pretend I didn’t know I had a hand-in.