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Re: [xmca] In Defense of Imprecision
Katharine Nelson does have a very big place for the "mimetic", that is, the imitative. The problem is that I think the mimetic is largely a way of reflecting the social onto the cognitive, having them contact without actually having them interact, and depriving both of history.
So the mimetic is there very much the same way that "negotiation of meaning" is there for applied linguists who want to believe that language acquisition is entirely due to input but there has to be some limited role for output, and that unfortunately means a social context. But don't worry. It's not a big role. It's sort of like two ships passing in the night.
As Long puts it, degustation of food takes place in social situations, but that is not centrally involved in digestion. As you can imagine, this gastrointestinal rather than culinary view tends to miss out on a lot of the historical, cultural, situatedness of a mental process. (I do that anyway, actually; I thought Pee Wee Herman was a jazz musician. It turns out that he had a children's show on television.)
Last night I was listening to Mahler's First Symphony, where he has this motif taken from "Frere Jacques" that sounds like a funeral march, suddenly interrupted by wild Klezmer from a nearby tavern.
The death of children is really not much of a theme in art today. But as Barbara Rogoff notes, it was a major theme in the 19th Century and in some ways ideally fits Mahler's late Romantic temperament. That's not just a cognitive accident, by the way; the siblings on both sides of him joined the Choir Invisible when Mahler was growing up.
So then he loses his own child, and he's losing his wife to Walter Gropius. He gets fired by the Vienna Philharmonic (the real love of his life) and ends up in New York, where he is diagnosed with a heart complaint that will kill him within a year. Despondent, he goes to Leiden and sees Freud, who diagnoses him with a "withdrawal of the libido".
I'm not making this up, but I have to admit it does sound like a Jewish joke. Freud talks to him for four hours, and then says something like well, the whole problem is your Oedipal "holy mother" fixation (Mahler was Jewish, but apparently prone to doubts, which in his case took the form of Catholic sympathies.) Don't worry, it's all cognitive.
Nine months later, Mahler was dead. He sure left behind some symphonies, though. Not to mention the "Kindertotenlied".
Seoul National University of Education
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