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Re: [xmca] Searching for essence

Hi Deborah and David

Thanks for posting the Boesch article on the violin.  Boesch pondering the
strange goal of searching for the elusive *pure* beautiful sound certainly
is an interesting contribution to this conversation.

Boesch on page 191 of the article offers an intriguing perspective about
the European mytheme of purity. He writes,

Such quest, for the *still more perfect* the *still more satifying* object
or action corresponds, I believe, no less to an European myth; it expresses
the anxiety of missing fulfillment, of losing power; but also of the
intuitive anticipation of *realities beyond* the present"

Boesch then comments,

"Thus, we now understand the person-violin dyad as a KIND of focus within
his total *I* - *non-I* relationship, polyvalent and interrrelated with
various areas of meaning..... Indeed, the sound felt to be perfect can be
produced only by a perfect fit between instrument and player.  Assimilation
and accommodation cannot be separated anymore: artist and violin form a
symbiotic whole, the I, so to say, blending into the object melting into
the I.  As long as it remains imperfect, the sound I experienced as
antagonism, as a signal of scisson, but when perfect it becomes the
symbolic proof of unity, of a cleavage overcome - in other words, it
symbolically confirms our potential to reach Utopia.  Sound, now, is the
objectified I ...." [p.191]

Boesch is using general assumption of mythemes to understand the European
myth of purity.

I would like to briefly add a response to Boesch as I read this article and
how Boesch explores our European mytheme [horizon]
 I asked,  How does the Buddhist utopia *fuse* the *I* and the *not I*?  My
answer is to consider the object of the outhouse or privy [which in our
horizon represents *dirt* or *noise* as matter that  is OUT of place and
is the antithesis of purity.] Boesch points out that dirt and noise can
also be symbolic mythemes. In fact *noise* [in the sense of NOT purified
sound can even possess aesthetic qualities] Boesch gives examples of the
rustling of leaves in a breeze, the murmur of water in a creek, the lapping
of waves on the shore.   The symbolic mytheme of Buddhism may be
symbolizing this particular relation to noise and dirt.  Outhouses did not
have a door for the explicit purpose of contemplating the sound of rain
drops spattering on the individual leaves.  Could the outhouse as an object
[within the Buddhist horizon] offer an experience of symbiotic unity where
the sound of the raindrop on leaf produced a perfect fit between nature
[not instrument] and listener. The I, blending into the object [sound] and
the object blending into the I as a symbiotic whole, symbolically
confirming our potential to reach Utopia?  Sound, NOW, is the objectified I
in perfect harmony with the cultural mytheme [horizon] AND the subject's
*fantasmic aspirations*?

Different *WAYS* but the same sense of moving beyond duality to a symbiotic
Utopia [as expressed within a horizon or mytheme].

Not sure how others respond to Boesch's semiotic-cultural form of cultural
psychology [as a tradition], but this *classic* article invited further
questions and openned up this personal response. I hope Boesch invites
further responses as the article opens multiple questions.


On Tue, May 29, 2012 at 10:49 AM, deborah downing-wilson <
ddowningw@gmail.com> wrote:

> Might the classic chapter by Ernest Boesch (attached) where he muses about
> the strange goal of "beautiful sound"  be an interesting contribution to
> this conversation?
> On Mon, May 28, 2012 at 2:35 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com
> >wrote:
> > Larry:
> >
> > I think we are talking about two different procedures for doing the same
> > thing which yield very different results because the two different
> > procedures are essentially different. It is lie Spinoza's example of
> > teaching about circles using the moon or ripples on a pond on the one
> hand
> > or using a pencil on a string on the other: you are going to get circles
> in
> > both cases, but the process is so different that the result is never
> going
> > to be exactly the same.
> >
> > Suppose we posit that there is something called an "aesthetic reaction"
> or
> > an "aesthetic response". (Vygotsky uses this term only in his very
> earliest
> > published work and I think that he understands it as an ACTIVE response
> > even then and he would not use it at all aftr his break with reactology
> > in "The Historical Meaning of the Crisis in Psychology".)
> >
> > One procedure is to get two art works that produce this active response
> > (e.g. "Hamlet" on the one hand and the fables of Krylov on the other) and
> > see what it is that they have in common. Vygotsky does this, and he
> > discovers a kind of tension between the form and the material in both
> > cases. The problem is that this is not essential, because it is a
> property
> > of all semiotic material, whether aesthetic or not.
> >
> > Another procedure is to start with a single artwork (e.g. a fable) and
> > deform it in some way so that the (active) aesthetic response is
> diminshed
> > or even entirely abolished. For example, Lessing takes the fable of the
> fox
> > and the grapes and retells it thus: a man wants to eat some pears, but he
> > finds them hard to reach so he tells himself that it doesn't matter
> because
> > they aren't ripe yet. Vygotsky does this too and he discovers a set of
> > essences that are quite specific to particular art form (for example, the
> > essence of a lyrical fable is quite different and in some ways
> > diametrically opposed to that of a moral fable).
> >
> > Now, it seems to me that these two procedures do come up with
> > two different conclusions: one is too broad to exclude everything that is
> > not art and the other is too narrow to include everything that is art.
> But
> > it also seems to me that they overlap somehow: they both describe a
> > relationship between the real and the ideal which is similar to and yet
> > essentially different from the relationship between a scientific
> phenomenon
> > and a scientific concept (it is a little easier to see this with a
> > non-literary example, such as a painting, because somehow literature
> always
> > tricks us into thinking that there is nothing real there at all).
> >
> > What is the essence of this difference? I think I agree with Huw, that
> > complexity is actually the main feature of scientific reality and that
> > simplicity only occurs in highly isolated special cases. Weirdly, though,
> > it seems to me that the opposite holds true for aesthetic reality; we
> begin
> > by an idealizing abstraction, and it is only in the subsequent
> development
> > of our aesthetic sensibility that we approach complexity (Brecht's
> "fables"
> > for the theatre are an example of how the anthropomorphization of animal
> > characters can be made to work, but the result is precisely an example of
> > "complex seeing").
> >
> > David Kellogg
> > Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> >
> > --- On Sat, 5/26/12, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> > From: Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
> > Subject: [xmca] Searching for essence
> > To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> > Date: Saturday, May 26, 2012, 9:40 PM
> >
> >
> > Further reflections on Wittgenstein and Vygotsky
> >
> > Christine, I have been reading the article by Wittgenstein and reflecting
> > on the precision with which he DESCRIBES the functioning of aesthetic
> terms
> > such as the term *beautiful*. Wittgenstein questions if it is possible
> > to locate the *essence* of adjectival terms such as beautiful within any
> > generalized notion of the universal.
> >
> > My understanding of Vygotsky is that he posits there is an
> > essence within aesthetic experience that can be located through analysis.
> > The aesthetic expression experienced when engaging with a work of art  IS
> > the *aesthetic reaction* to a work of art. This generation of
> > the *aesthetic reaction* is the essence.  The question then becomes how,
> > within particular cultures and particular historical epochs individuals
> > *aesthetically REACT* to works of art. How they react is the *essence*
> > of coming to understand aesthetic xperience.
> > Margaret Gredler, in exploring Vygotsky's understanding of aesthetic
> > reaction as the universal essence suggests Vygotsky's understanding leads
> > to the question,
> > How does history  *show* WHICH feelings, in WHICH eras, via WHICH forms
> > have been expressed via art.
> >   By analyzing a classical art form [ie Hamlet] the aesthetic reaction
> [in
> > general] can be studied. Observing the changes to the aesthetic reaction
> in
> > different epochs develops our understanding of this general aesthetic
> > reaction.
> >
> > Turning to cognitive development, Vygotsky  asks if  one can locate the
> > *essence* of cognitive activity through a process of analysis?  [locate
> the
> > characteristics or properties displayed in all cognitive activity]
> > Margaret Gredler summarizes Vygotsky's answer to this question,
> >
> > What is the general essence of the human activity of generating cognitive
> > processes?  She  summarizes  Vygotsky's answer as follows,
> >
> > * humans actively intervene in situations in which natural processes are
> > inadequate
> > * humans create or appropriate symbols to gain control and MASTER a
> > cognitive process
> > * the symbols do not change or influence the object of the task but the
> > symbols redirect or reconstruct the individual's cognitive behavior in
> > approaching the task.
> >
> > Gadamer's notion of *fusion* implies there are distinct horizons prior
> to a
> > conversation between horizons and the possible expansion of BOTH
> horizons.
> > Therefore, I am clarifying Vygotsky's notion of *essence* [as a
> particular
> > horizon] before asking
> > How would Wittgenstein respond to this notion of *essence*
> > Larry
> > __________________________________________
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> >
> --
> Deborah Downing Wilson, Ph.D.
> Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition
> http://lchc.ucsd.edu/
> <http://lchc.ucsd.edu/>Department of Communication
> http://communication.ucsd.edu/
> University of California San Diego
> http://www.ucsd.edu/
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