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[Xmca-l] Re: (no subject)
- To: Douglas Williams <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
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- Date: Sat, 12 Oct 2013 11:06:20 -0700
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The idea that ventriloquation is where thought begins is really interesting
and the dialogue a lot of fun.
I am almost positive that an examination of the etymology of the term
ventriloquation in Bakhtin would repay investigation.
Perhaps one of the Russian contributors could help us out here. I have this
hunch that the gods are somehow involved, or maybe there is just a one God.
But I could well be mistaken.
On Sat, Oct 12, 2013 at 10:20 AM, Douglas Williams <email@example.com> wrote:
> One thing I think you'll have to deal with is Plato's hostility to
> narrative, which for him was cast in the form of poetry. Eric Havelock's
> Preface to Plato would be a good place to start.
> I have to admit that I think accessing this particular line of thought
> through Plato is difficult, because he is so deeply suspicious of people
> becoming possessed, literally, by the attractiveness of imaginary worlds. I
> think he views imaginary narrative as suspect always, because even though
> it may be play for the narrator, narratives are dangerous for the audience:
> By subjecting themselves to the imagination of another, the audience
> becomes trapped in a world of shadows of shadows, until, ultimate horror of
> horrors, otherwise proto-sentient beings sit around in Harry Potter clubs
> ventriloquizing J.K. Rowling.
> On the other hand, from a cultural-historical psychology point of view,
> access to reality begins with internalizing what Bakhtin might call genres
> of sociocultural activity--the moral and intellectual tools available in
> the external world that arm the proto-sentient being with the means to
> comprehend society, culture, genres of thought and activity, and all the
> other things that internalizing the patterns of language and activity
> around us make available to our own use. Ventriloquizing is where thought
> begins. As Socrates might say, in dialogue with Plato, if he were to emerge
> out of the shadows of a cave somewhere for a time, to ponder the world as
> it has turned these many years:
> Soc. I have often heard you warn about the dangers of poetry, which can
> trap the minds of those who become bewitched by the muse. But suppose you
> have studiously avoided narrative, does it truly free someone to think more
> Plato. Well, surely this is self-evident, is it not? For when is it
> possible to think for oneself about the world in the dead thoughts of
> another, such as we often see in those who become lost in plays and
> stories? These narratives are like a labyrinth, which, once entered, few
> have the power to leave. It is surely a matter of great good fortune that
> this modern age has so many who are free from the evils created by the
> Soc. Would you agree that this new Internet technology has nothing to do
> with stories of long ago?
> Plato. Yes, of course it does not. That is a very clear example of the
> foolishness of wasting time reading stories, rather than thinking for
> oneself. This wondrous techne clearly shows the advantage to be derived by
> devoting one's thought to the world as it is, rather than to imaginary
> worlds created by poets and writers, which are always derivative."
> Soc. Yet there are several features of this Internet that reflect a sense
> of stories. What do you suppose "World Wide Web" means?
> Plato. Why, I should think that it refers to the strands of a spider's
> web. But that is not a story; that is simple observation of the real world.
> Soc. Do you suppose that these strands of metal function like a spider's
> web, then? Do they trap those who wander into them?
> Plato. But Socrates, of course I do not.
> Soc. Or do you suppose that only daughters of Arachne are capable of
> weaving such webs?
> Plato: No--though surely you do not mean to say that one must know of
> Arachne, or indeed of spiders and webs, to be able to create such things?
> Soc. No. But consider the matter this way: How would you describe the
> relation of a word like "web" to the design?
> Plato: I think I might describe it as a kind of tool of thought. But there
> is no narrative there.
> Soc. Very good. We are agreed that words are tools then. But suppose I
> find another word that makes no sense outside of a narrative context? Would
> you agree that narratives might be tools, too?
> Plato: Surely there can be no such word, Socrates.
> Soc. There is a story told by certain barbarians of the North, which
> certain poets wrote down, much as Homer did, to communicate to the latest
> posterity the thoughts and deeds of ancestors--though most disreputably,
> they selected not history, but arrant lies.
> Plato: Indeed, that is very reprehensible, Socrates. I should describe
> such people as wolves in human form, who prey not just on the minds of the
> living, but of the future. Most terrible!
> Soc. And yet one of their stories has a meaning in this techne of
> Internet, if I understand rightly.
> Plato. Surely not!
> Soc. They say that a certain term describing one of the tools of craft to
> navigate on this web is called a "breadcrumb." I find this a very strange
> Plato: So do I, Socrates. It shows that there is no narrative about "web"
> that traps these wise craftsmen of this modern era. But what does it mean?
> Soc. I am told that this term refers to a story of these northern
> barbarians, called "Hansel and Gretel," about two children. These children
> scattered crumbs from a loaf of bread as they walked through a forest, so
> that they could find their way home again by returning along the path of
> crumbs they had left behind them.
> Plato. I see. So you are telling me that the word "breadcrumb" is used to
> describe a way of returning on a web site to the place from which one
> started, and moreover, that it is the very meaning of the word in the
> context of this story that gives the word "breadcrumb" its particular
> Soc. So I am given to understand. In fact, unless I am very much mistaken,
> it appears that the knowledge of this story was specifically the
> inspiration for crafting this particular kind of technology. What do you
> think "breadcrumb" means in the context of this usage?
> Plato: Why, I must concede, Socrates, that it appears to be a signifier
> representing a pattern of thought that is embodied in this narrative of the
> Soc. Do you think that this is a form of creative thought? Or is it a case
> of modern craftspeople becoming imprisoned by narratives, and unable to
> think outside of them? Is it creative to use an idea from a story about
> children who never existed to craft a way of doing things? Or is this
> modern era filled with victims of their foolish ancestors, who filled their
> minds with lies and delusions?
> Plato. I suppose I must regard the use of this story as a creative form of
> thought, because surely the people who use such tools must be able to free
> themselves from the limits of the story from which the word "breadcrumb" is
> Soc. Do you suppose that it is possible someone who does not know such
> stories is at a disadvantage, such as a carpenter might be if he had one
> kind of adze?
> Plato. I do not like to think that someone requires a narrative to think
> with, but I suppose it could be true, Socrates.
> Soc. Is it possible, then, my dear Plato, that the poet is not always a
> danger to society?
> Plato. I am unwilling to go so far, Socrates. Yet I must concede that in
> some ways, and in some cases, poets may have some value to society.
> Soc. Perhaps I hear a muse murmuring in my ears, like the sound of the
> flute in the ears of the mystic; that voice, I say, is humming in my ears,
> and prevents me from hearing any other. This muse tells me that poetry is,
> after all, a gift of the gods, just as is any other gift. And I know that
> anything more which you will say against the value of narratives will be in
> vain. Yet speak, if you have anything to say.
> Plato. I have nothing to say, Socrates.
> Soc. Then let me follow the intimations of the will of the god.
> On Wednesday, October 9, 2013 10:06 AM, CAITLIN WUBBENA <
> firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Hi! I am a graduate student at Penn working on my Master's paper in
> foundations/philosophy of education. I am taking a course with Andrew
> Babson and he recommended I post here for some feedback/advice.
> Loosely, my topic is centered on Plato's notion of play/seriousness. I want
> to explore why intellectual play is vital for success in higher ed and
> envision this particular project (it's a relatively short lit review) as an
> analysis of the historical context that has allowed this conversation to
> happen in academia. At this point, I plan to cite Plato, Kierkegaard
> (Socratic irony), and Dewey. I've also been introduced to Vygotsky and
> Kendall Walton. The main challenge is bridging the conversation to higher
> Any advice on where to go, books/articles to look into, etc would be
> greatly appreciated!