Kip Jones

KIP JONES, an American by birth, has been studying and working in the UK for more than 20 years.
Under the umbrella term of 'arts-led research', his main efforts have involved developing tools
from the arts and humanities for use by social scientists in research and its impact on a wider
public or a Perfomative Social Science.

Jones was Reader in Performative Social Science and Qualitative Research at
Bournemouth University for 15 years.
He is now a Visiting Scholar and and an independent author and scholar.

Kip has produced films and written many articles for academic journals and authored chapters
for books on topics such as masculinity, ageing and rurality, and older LGBT citizens.
Jones' most recent work involves working with Generation Z youth to tell their stories using
social media.
His ground-breaking use of qualitative methods, including Auto-fiction, biography
and auto-ethnography, and the use of tools from the arts in social science research
and dissemination are well-known.

Jones acted as Author and Executive Producer of
the award-winning short film, RUFUS STONE, funded by Research Councils UK.
The film is now available for free viewing on the Internet
and has been viewed by more than 14,000 people in 150 countries.

Areas of expertise
• Close relationships, culture and ethnicity
• Social psychology, sociology
• Ageing, self and identity
• Interpersonal processes, personality,
individual differences,
social networks, prejudice and stereotyping
• Sexuality and sexual orientation
• Creativity and the use of the
arts in Social Science

Media experience
His work has been reported widely
in the media, including:
BBC Radio 4,BBC TV news,Times
Higher Education, Sunday New
York Times, International
and The Independent.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Man in a Ditch

Murano Island, Venice

“You must never smile like that... you must never smile like that at anyone”.

Venice was a struggle … three times. The first time for me, the ship was stuck in the harbour at Dubrovnik with a broken propeller and couldn’t leave for Venice. Eventually it went to Trieste instead; me? utterly disappointed.

The third time, yes it was Venice, but in high summer season, very hot, crowded, no, packed like sardines, like the end of the world was just a day or two away.

The Doge’s Palace gets 1.3 million visitors per year. There are a zillion steps to get into the building, then another trillion to reach the main room on the next floor. I asked why, with all those paying tourists climbing all those many stairs (and in the heat), why oh why couldn’t they install a lift? I didn’t get an answer.

The second time I had a crack at Venice is the one I would like to talk about here. I was thrilled to finally arrive at the location for the film, Death in Venice, perhaps see the lido, even the hotel where von Aschenbach stayed. I fired up my phone with the Adagio from Mahler’s 5th, used so successfully in the film by Visconti. I went on deck in early morning as we sailed into Venice via the Grand Canal, listening to Mahler and observing the incredible floating architecture.

It was either early Spring or late Autumn; I don’t recall. What I do remember is the constant rain and miserably cold temperatures.  You can tell it’s really raining and will be for some time in Venice because they put wooden platforms for pedestrians to walk on about one foot above the pavement. So, we trotted around Venice in the rain like that.

I hooked up with Sally, a passenger from London whom I had met on the ship. As time went on, I realised that Sally was on a remembrance journey to Venice of her own making.  She never revealed the whole story; rather, she just commented on various sites that we visited that held memories for her. A love story never told? Perhaps.

On our first day, because of the heavy rain, she and I decided to take an excursion to Murano island to visit the famous glassworks. We would get to ride in a vaporetto, another treat I was looking forward to.

Bouncing along in the rather choppy waters on the Grand Canal, the heavy rain began spitting through the cracks in the boat. We tried looking at the scenery by wiping the small windows with the forearms of our coats. They kept fogging up, however, and we didn’t see much.

We disembarked the vaporetto onto a small jetty and into the continuing rain and fog.

The whole idea of building a city on water is part genius, part madness. I suppose that is a great measure of the attraction of Venice. There are many small islands that make up the miniscule amount of land comprising the habitable real estate of the lagoon. Murano is one of them—a part of Venice revealing a more human scale.

We trotted along, this shivering clump of tourists being hustled forward with some difficulty on a narrow footpath. To top it all off, we came to an intersection where the pavement was dug up for construction, a deep ditch about three feet wide taking up most of the pedestrian walkway along the canal.

Then it happened. Rising from the trench like Venus on a half-shell was one of the most beautiful young men I have ever seen. Totally struck by his beauty, I stopped in my tracks, now almost facing him.

And then it really happened. This entrenched workman smiled at me. Here I was in Venice, like von Aschenbach, having my own unplanned Death in Venice encounter with the beauty of youth!

And so, slowly but surely, in my mind at least, I repeated Thomas Mann’s line from the novel, Death in Venice:

 “You must never smile like that... you must never smile like that at anyone”.

Sally suddenly grabbed my arm roughly and hurried us along. The glass factory was waiting. Venice was waiting. But I had finally experienced what I had really come for: My Death in Venice moment.

The rain never really cleared, but we determinedly saw Venice for the next two days. Sally, resolute to recreate her past visit, nonetheless still only willing to share bits and pieces of it, never revealing the true story behind her recollections.

Once in a while she would catch me smiling, but never asked why.

I kept my secret too.