Constructing the alcohol blackout; an (auto)ethnographic narrative collage.
thesisposted on 24.03.2022, 19:37 by Justyna Rechberger
Alcohol-induced amnesia, or "blacking out," is a common, persisting, yet understudied phenomenon in today's “extreme” drinking culture, with potentially serious consequences. The scholarly literature on blackouts is especially limited in addressing the aftermath of the state, in which fragments of experience are "pieced together" and negotiated through collectively constructed narratives. In the present paper, I challenge the traditional blackout narrative by moving beyond the experiential “what happened?” to address the phenomenological, discursive and hermeneutical. What is it like? How do we feel about it? How do we talk about it? And why do we continue to drink ourselves past the point of recollection? Inspired by creative and (auto)ethnographic modes of life-writing and research (Richardson, Ellis, Denzin), I asked myself these questions by interviewing twenty-three others. Following the notion that story-telling and autobiographical remembering are fundamental to knowing and “re-writing” experience, especially “the life of feeling,” the project explores the role of such narratives in maintaining “problematic” drinking habits. In creating a self-reflexive discourse around non-remembrance and in assembling personal stories with existing research, art and theory in an accessible format, the project constructs and embodies the blackout experience, commenting on the ways in which it is written and talked about.