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[Xmca-l] Re: Culture, nature, and children



(Haydi--thanks for the offer. I think, but I am not sure, that I
solved the problem--with much generous help from Andy. If you don't
see this on the list, we can try reposting again. For any other who
are having this problem, what you have to do is to use some email
provider that allows you the option of sending naked HTML text--e.g.
"plain text" in gmail. My previous web-based Korean provider made this
impossible.)

Dear Professor Goncu:

I just finished writing a book which is about one third fables, and
while I was proofreading it I was struck by Vygotsky's distinction
between lyrical treatments of nature and proverbial ones.

To connect this with a concurrent thread, the late Jacob Bronowski,
referred to by David Preiss, once wrote a poem (part of a Socratic
dialogue) that goes like this (if I can remember it rightly):

The force that makes the winter grow
Its feathered hexagons of snow
And drives the bee to match at home
Their calculated honeycomb
Is abacus and rose combined
Their icy sweetness fills my mind
Reminded that in thing and wing
Lie taut yet living, coiled, a spring

The abacus is science--concerned with nature. The rose is human
values--that is, human art. But of course an abacus is a man made
object, and a rose is a natural one (as Bronowski points out).

Vygotsky finds something similar in the fable--the "lyrical" ones may
be naturalistic in content, but they are formally not so much
concerned with nature as with human artifice. The proverbial ones are
formally "natural" (in the sense that they are evolved rather than
designed in their grammar and their phonology). But in their content
they are not simply concerned with human values but also with getting
along with nature.

To give a single example, in Korea the lyrical meaning of a tiger is a
rather stupid, brutal animal, something like a jackass with claws, and
the obvious analogy (for most Koreans) is a minor official, a village
bully or a particularly thuggish and thick headed policeman. But
proverbially, (that is, in proverbs, particularly in proverbs of
Chinese origin) the tiger is a totem of natural strength, grace,
beauty, and bravery.

Here's an example from my own, anglophone, culture. In English we say
"the early bird gets the worm", is almost a fable: the bird is not a
bird and the worm is not a word. But we also say: "Early to bed, early
to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise". This is less
fabulous and more proverbial, more prosaic: the man is a man, and
"early to bed" really means go to bed.

Halliday, as usual, has an explanation. With "forest" cultures, folk
wisdom tends to the quite literal: when you talk about catching worms,
it's probably in the context of eating them or using them to fish.
With "farming" cultures, the animals take on a much more human guise,
and the proverbs become much more like fables. It is only with our
own, "factory" culture that nature becomes something to drive your
American made automobile through.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies


On 4 February 2014 22:32, Haydi Zulfei <haydizulfei@rocketmail.com> wrote:
> Hi David
> Mine still blank ! You can act as before ; send to my personal address ; it will be ok ; In any case I like and have to read it ; then what remains to be worried about if I take just a second to resend it .
> Best
> Haydi
>
> From: kellogg <kellogg59@hanmail.net>
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> Sent: Tuesday, 4 February 2014, 9:50:19
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Culture, nature, and children
Status: O