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Re: [xmca] Measuring culture
Larry, Martin, Greg:
(Not necessarily in that order; I am still trying to figure out what the inner meaning of "Whoa!" is. I tried interpreting it as an emotive palindrome and got "a-ohw", which sounds somewhere between Eliza Doolittle and a Teletubbie, definitely not Greg's normal diction.)
Thanks for all that Merleau-Ponty. I only have "Phenomenologie de la perception" at hand. I have to figure out how to get a copy of "Signs" in French, though; there are parts of it that are not at all clear to me.
For example, when M-P contrasts fomalism to a "literature of subject", he appears to be talking about a kind of literary criticism, the kind which ignores the 'device' and the 'technique' and simply looks at the subject. As Bakhtin points out, this is what we do with novels.
Novels are long. Novels are prosaic. Novels are a kind of osmotic membrane, a permeable membrane, a porous boundary between everyday conversation and literary language. And in that sense novels are different from other art forms, because they straddle this frontier and do not simply instantiate a conversation in the same medium but actually realize it in another medium.
So we end up treating the novel the way we would treat a long turn in a prosaic, everyday, somewhat tedious conversation, that is, commenting on what the novel is about and leaving it at that. We read the novel as a list of subjects, as a cast of characters, or as as documents of non-artistic doctrines: politics, political economy, power relations between sexes, etc. (My wife is working on this problem; but as usual we are having trouble finding a publisher.)
I am less sure what to make of Martin's text. I guess I don't believe in 'inner form' which is separate from 'outer form'. It seems to me that what Vygotsky calls 'inner form' is really just the potential for outer forms (that is, for concrete, fully realized senses). These potentials are infinite, but they are not indefinite, else they could not be defined in use. Sense is a realization of signification, and signification is the potential that underlies that realization.
But realization is a very different relationship from instantiation. The style/meaning of a literary text is an instance of genre, just as genre itself is an instantiation of the language system as a whole. No boundaries are being crossed here; there is no transition from the ideal to the real, or from the potential to the actual..
Halliday puts it this way: meaning is realized as wording. Wording is realized as sounding (that is, expression, phonetics, phonology, and in the case of a written text, orthography). But meaning, wording, and sounding together are instances of subpotential (what Bakhtin calls a speech genre) and that subpotential is an instance of the system as a whole.
It seems to me that Merleau-Ponty is confusing the two things when he talks about words that teach ourselves our own thoughts from the outside. To the extent that those thoughts are my thoughts, it is realization. But to the extent that they are instances of the wisdom of the ancestors congealed in the form of the speech genre, is it an instantiation.
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
--- On Wed, 4/25/12, Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
From: Larry Purss <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Measuring culture
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 9:22 PM
Martin, David, Greg
In the same spirit of letting the text speak for itself I will expand on
Merleau's phrase I posted by putting it in the context of the passage on
page 77. [via the magic of google books]
"It is certainly right to condemn formalism, but it is ordinarily forgotten
that its error is not that it esteems form too much, but that it esteems it
so little that it detaches it from meaning. In this respect formalism is
no different than a literature "subject" which also separates the meaning
of the work from its configuration. The true contrary of formalism is a
good theory of style, or of speech, which puts both above "technique" or
"device". Speech is not a means in the service of an external end. It
contains its own rule of usage, ethics, and view of the world, as a gesture
sometimes bears the whole truth about a man. This livng use of language,
ignored both by formalism and the literature of *subject* is literature
itself as search and acquisition. A language which only sought to reproduce
things themselves would exhaust its power to teach in factual statements.
On the contrary, a language which gives our perspectives on things and cuts
out relief in them opens up a discussion which does not end with the
language and itself invites further investigation. What is irreplaceable in
the work of art? What makes it far more a voice of the spirit whose
anologue is found in all productive philosophical or political thought,
then a means of pleasure. The fact that it contains, better than ideas,
MATRICES OF IDEAS - the fact that it provides us with symbols whose
meanings we never stop developing. PRECISELY because it dwells and makes us
dwell in a world we do not have a key to, the work of art teaches us to see
and ultimately gives us something to think about as no analytical work can;
because when we analyze an object, we FIND ONLY WHAT WE HAVE PUT INTO IT."
David, I hope locating M-P's sentence in the paragraph interrelated with
Martin's quote from M-P will add to the conversation :-}}
On Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 8:44 PM, Greg Thompson <email@example.com>wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 8:34 PM, Martin Packer <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > On Apr 24, 2012, at 6:19 PM, Greg Thompson wrote:
> > > (M-P has come on the LCHC radar lately... and I like language).
> > Then you might like this, Greg. It's from M-P's 'Signs,' not the chapter
> > on Levi-Strauss but the one titled Phenomenology of Language, in a
> > on "the quasi-corporeality of the signifying." I would say that it weaves
> > together a number of threads here on xmca. I'll let it speak for itself
> > for the moment:
> > "The speaking power the child assimilates in learning his language is not
> > the sum of morphological, syntactical, and lexical meanings. These
> > attainments are neither necessary nor sufficient to acquire a language,
> > once the act of speaking is acquired it presupposes no comparison between
> > what I want to express and the conceptual arrangement of the means of
> > expression I make use of. The words and turns of phrase needed to bring
> > significative intention to expression recommend themselves to me, when I
> > speaking, only by what Humboldt called *inner Sprachform* (and our
> > contemporaries call *Wortbegriff*), that is, only by a certain style of
> > speaking from which they arise and according to which they are organized
> > without my having to represent them to myself. There is a "languagely"
> > ["langagiere"] meaning of language which effects the mediation between my
> > as yet unspeaking intention and words, and in such a way that my spoken
> > words surprise me myself and teach me my thought. Organized signs have
> > their immanent meaning, which does not arise from the 'I think' but from
> > the 'I am able to.'
> > "This action at a distance by language, which brings
> > together without touching them, and this eloquence which designates them
> > a peremptory fashion without ever changing them into words or breaking
> > silence of consciousness, are eminent cases of corporeal intentionality.
> > have rigorous awareness of the bearing of my gestures or of the
> > of my body which allows me to maintain relationships with the world
> > thematically representing to myself the objects I am going to grasp or
> > relationships of size between my body and the avenues offered to me by
> > world. On the condition that I do not reflect expressly upon it, my
> > consciousness of my body immediately signifies a certain landscape about
> > me, that of my fingers a certain fibrous or grainy style of the object.
> > is in the same fashion that the spoken word (the one I utter or the one I
> > hear) is pregnant with a meaning which can be read in the very texture of
> > the linguistic gesture (to the point that a hesitation, an alteration of
> > the voice, or the choice of a certain syntax suffices to modify it), and
> > yet is never contained in that gesture, every expression always appearing
> > to me as a trace, no idea being given to me except in transparency, and
> > every attempt to close our hand on the thought which dwells in the spoken
> > word leaving only a bit of verbal material in our fingers" (pp. 88-89)
> > __________________________________________
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> > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Sanford I. Berman Post-Doctoral Scholar
> Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition
> Department of Communication
> University of California, San Diego
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