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[Xmca-l] Re: In Defense of Fuzzy Things


Thanks for the translation--it's pretty much what we came up with, except
that we translated "constitutional" as something more like "constituent". I
think that the puzzling part simply means that a mother is an actual
caretaker as opposed to a breadwinner, and so an alcoholic mother means
having someone who is alcoholic looking after you all the time, while a
father or a neighbour are more like neighborhood drunks.

To tell you the truth, it was me who introduced the flash mob. It was a
performance of Puccini's La Rondine, in particular the aria which goes:

Bevo al tuo fresco sorriso
Bevo al tuo sguardo profondo
All tua bocca che diese il mio nome...

(I drink to your fresh smile, I drink to your deep gaze, and to your mouth,
for having said my name!)

To which the reply is:

E il mio sogno ch s'averra
Se potessi sperare
che questo instante non muore...

(Here is my thought made truth, if I could only hope, that this moment
would not die...)

Yes, it's a typical romantic sentiment, combining the idea of the moment
that does not die with the feeling that thinking makes it so. But
Wordsworth, you know, was expressing a Romantic idea as well, the idea that
Vygotsky would later use in Psychology of Art. As I understand it, it goes
something like this. The machinery of art is artifice, but the emotions
they evoke are the real thing--tears are real tears, even when they are
shed at an unreal deathbed.

And contrariwise. Vygotsky tells he story of a horribly deformed child who
is ridiculed and humliated by his playmates, but cannot actually generalize
the experience--so he does not ever experience it as inferiority or even
humiliation; it is simply one bad experience amongst many. So the events of
real life are not so meaningful; they are, as Vygotsky says, "water on a
goose", simply pearls of dew on the back of an ugly duckling destined to
become a swan.

It's not that nothing is real until thinking makes it so; it is only that
meaning is made by thinking and not simply by experiencing. You can
actually see this in the Flash Mob--it is true that the people actually
singing are plants, and for them the reflective transformation of
experience into meaning has already happened when they planned it. But you
can also see that there is a gradual transformation amongst the onlookers
from shoppers to audience members. Besides, the video as  a whole appears
to have been shot at least in part with cell phones, and some of those, I
like to think, were contributed by the Chinese tourists.

You suggest that there cannot be a direct connection between Wordsworth and
the Russians. But I think Andy would say--and I would agree--that there
was, and his name was J.W. von Goethe. I would only add the names of
Carlyle and Hazlitt, both well known to Wordsworth, both of whom were
thoroughly steeped in the most up-to-date developments of German

But I certainly share your astonishment that these developments in German
philosophy are still so very up-to-date. Perhaps some moments do last

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 16 July 2014 08:04, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

> David, Beth, and others interested in the question of the concept of
> perezhivanie/emotional experience/reflected upon emotional experience, etc
> (hereafter perezhivanie). The following message was written sometime around
> July 8 but I was interrupted and am just getting back to my computer.
> Apologies for my delay/mismanagement. I hope its still relevant. (I may
> even have sent it in another version but i do not see it in the threaded
> discussion log on xmca).
> I, too, have been thinking about yesterday's messages, Beth. Why were you
> thinking about flash mobs in relation to perezhivanie?
> I re-appreciated David bringing Wordsworth into the discussion along with
> "contemplate" (the association of which, with perezhivanie, i had found out
> about hours before from a Russian acquaintance on Skype. The sheer
> coincidence knocked me over. And then I began to think about what it means
> when a 19th century English poet provides insight into issues that 21st
> century psychologists are aspiring to "research" and that insight is
> shared, somehow, by Russians living in far to the east of Moscow. The
> Russian presumably did not get it from Wordsworth. Common intuitions across
> a vast distance in culture, time, and space?
> Then i wondered what it means when a poet provides insight we can all
> appreciate but psychologists aspiring to do research provide, so far as I
> can tell, no special insight at all.  At least, I know of no empirical
> research linking perezhivanie and contemplation (созерцание- sozertsanie).
> With perezhivanie in the "lived through, reflected upon, emotion-laden,
> experience" sort, the major (only?) published research I know of is
> Vasiliuk, and that is in the domain of psychotherapy, where, as Andy has
> pointed out, perezhivanie appears to be the living through again
> interpersonally, in discussion with the psychotherapist.
> I think the example David points to (included below), is interesting. But I
> am not sure what the ontogenetic sequence is. LSV's thought
> experiment/example at first seems plausible, but as David points out, the
> followup about drunk nannies and neighbors is odd.
> In any event, I would really appreciate references to empirical studies of
> the development of perezhivanie. I myself lived through, peripherally, the
> research that Beth, Sonja Baumer, Robert Lecusay, and others did here in
> San Diego, and I am pretty convinced that both the children AND the
> researchers displayed perezhivanie. My sense of the events as they unfolded
> is that there was an "in the moment" form of perezhivanie for children and
> adults, and there were reflected upon perezhivanias (oops) among the
> adults.
> mike
> Here is the passage that David sent in Russian:
> Imagine I possess certain constitutional characteristics – clearly, I
> will experience this situation in one way, and if I possess different
> characteristics, it is equally clear that I will experience it in quite
> a different way. This is why people’s constitutional characteristics are
> taken into account when differentiating between those who are excitable,
> sociable, lively and active and others who are more emotionally slack,
> inhibited and dull. It is therefore obvious, that if we have two people
> with two opposite types of constitutional characteristics, then one and
> the same event is likely to elicit a different emotional experience
> [/perezhivanie/] in each of them. Consequently, the constitutional
> characteristics of the person and generally the personal characteristics
> of children are, as it were, mobilized by a given emotional experience
> [/perezhivanie/], are laid down, become crystallized within a given
> emotional experience [/perezhivanie/] but, at the same time, this
> experience does not just represent the aggregate of the child’s personal
> characteristics which determine how the child experienced this
> particular event emotionally, but different events also elicit different
> emotional experiences [/perezhivanija/] in the child. A drunken or
> mentally ill mother amounts to the same thing as a mentally ill nanny,
> but it does not mean the same as a drunken father or a drunken
> neighbour. Which means that the environment, which in this case was
> represented by a specific concrete situation, is also always represented
> in a given emotional experience [/perezhivanie/]. This is why we are
> justified in considering the emotional experience [/perezhivanie/]//to
> be a unity of environmental and personal features. And it is precisely
> for this reason that the emotional experience [/perezhivanie/]//is a
> concept which allows us to study the role and influence of environment
> on the psychological development of children in the analysis of the laws
> of development.