The Revolving Door
“The study of people in their natural settings; a descriptive account of social life and culture in a defined social system, based on qualitative methods (e.g. detailed observations, unstructured interviews, analysis of documents). This method is used by anthropologists in studies of 'non-western' cultures and ethnographers for studies of sub-cultures within western societies (e.g. drug cultures, soccer hooligans, sex workers etc) and its institutions (e.g. the Police). There is much debate concerning the use of covert and overt methods here.”
Google: Definitions of Ethnography on the Web
Justine Quercia is one of eight ethnographic researchers gathered in a board room listening to Il Professore speak:
“We have named this assignment ‘The Revolving Door.’
A revolving door controls inertia whereby an exit becomes a missed opportunity. You enter the revolving door with a lover in front. The lover has the dynamic push which creates momentum. As the lover exits, a new lover enters from behind and pushes with such force that there is no space to exit. Your only choice will be to return inside where introjections occur.
The revolving door is allowing the lovers to enter and exit. You will be caught in this whirling turn-around as well. By virtue of the loss of vertigo derived from the twirl, you will be on a trajectory that is alien for society, yet natural for you. You are all highly qualified. I have reviewed your credentials and have chosen you because you have exhibited the ability to distance yourself from the act of sex, denied “love” and reported your private sexual exploits for the benefit of research.
You will survive this assignment for there is a solace in the rhythm of the whirling doors. Your seemingly somnambulist routine is lit by uncensored clarity. The lovers, the ethnographical experiences and the documentation of events will whip back upon themselves. They will generate the momentum that you will need to engage in the next event.
“Justine, can you explain to the group how you see the revolving door, please!”
Il Professore turns to Justine and she explains her perspective.
“I look towards the revolving door with a vivacious curiosity. I am interested in who is entering, still vaguely unrecognizable through the heavy glass. Their aspect is split in two by the brass stripe suspending their hands as they push the door forward. Simultaneously, I linger on the intimate recollections of the receding back that is leaving me to rejoin the workings of the world.
I see myself as an illegitimate branch of the United Nations. My visitors, arriving and leaving through the revolving door, represent their race, gender and class within a framework of conscientious perversity. I arrange seminars of seminal fluid where we negotiate the future of sexual precedents with our cross cultural exchange.
I understand that I am engaged in social research that is at best – dubious. We have all been hired by Il Professore, the famous Doctor of Sociology. Today we will join his team of experts. Our access to sexual knowledge will be gleaned from both private and public arenas. This assignment has been dubbed ‘The Revolving Door’ for the insight that we gain from our private experiences will be juxtaposed as we swing out again into public domains. We will methodically research the public sex clubs of New York City.”
As Justine sits back down, Il Professore continues.
“There are the necessary precautions that must be adhered to in protecting the identities of the lovers. To further this aim we will meld the public sex stories into one. Although your private lovers will remain yours, the public tales will be a collection of all of your research bundled together. Justine, for instance, will gather the notes of her colleagues and write them as if she had experienced them. It will be impossible to discern if it is Justine speaking or one of her team members. Each of us is writing our story. We have different private lives but the tales from the sex clubs belongs to all of us. This way, our identities will be protected as well.
Once again, Justine – a quick paraphrase, please…”
“I am undercover, at immense risk and dedicated to my task.
I have a question as well though.”
“And that is?”
“My sister, Juliette, has been my scribe. I believe that ‘Quercia Stories’, my previous book, compiled from independent ethnographic research into the limits of love and knowledge, worried her. I anticipate that ‘The Revolving Door’ may be even more of a challenge for her. May I tell her what it is that we are doing? If, for instance, she understood that it was not just my experiences, but the collective’s, it may set her mind at rest.”
Although Il Professore looks upon Justine with encouragement as she poses her question, he phrases his answer with a serious tone.
“Our research is gathered for the edification of future generations. We must keep the integrity of the record taking in tact. You are not just one woman now, Justine. You are part of a team. Members of our families may not comprehend where we are coming from but they will continue to love you, Justine. Wait. One day, the Gaussian blur will be lifted, but that can only occur in retrospect. Juliette must write these experiences with absolute faith in you. She must be a “blind scribe.” This will insure the immediate integrity of the documentation. One day, she will be allowed see the whole picture with hindsight. Only then will she be able to form an opinion of your life’s work.”