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[Xmca-l] Re: how to broaden/enliven the xmca discussion

So David, when you read Chapter 5 of Thinking and Speech, what do you call those combinations of sign-mediated actions which Vygotsky describes with words such as "complex" or "pseudoconcept" or "heap"?
*Andy Blunden*

David Kellogg wrote:
This morning I had the great pleasure of waking up in my own bed and
listening to Yo-yo Ma, Emanuel Ax and Itzhak Perlman playing this:


It's the D Major Cello sonata number two by Mendelssohn, played, as
Yo-yo Ma tells us, on the Davydov (no, that THAT Davydov) Stradivarius
that was probably used to perform the sonata for the very first time
in front of Mendelssohn himself. Now, throughout this concert, Ma has
been something of a stickler for "the original", and Perelman has been
pulling politely but pointedly towards a more personal interpretation.

So at around 6:45 on the clip, Perelman tells Ma that if Mendelssohn
himself had heard the sonata played on that very cello, then he,
Perelman, was sitting in the very seat that Mendelssohn had occupied,
and that therefore his freer interpretation was really closer to
Mendelssohn than any attempt to recreate the sonata with period
instruments. Mercifully, at this point, Ax interupts them and starts
to play.

Back in Sydney, Seth Chaiklin and I found ourselves in a somewhat
similar argument, with Seth in Perelman's chair, and me clinging
rather obstinately to a paleo-Vygotskyan interpretation which actually
rejects "activity" as a unit of analysis for anything but behavior,
and most certainly as a unit of psychological analysis. Seth's
argument was pragmatist: for certain practical applications, we need
new interpretations, including revisionist ones. Mine was an argument
in favor of species diversity: when the revisionist account supplants
the original to such a degree that Vygotsky's original argument is no
longer accessible to people, we need to go back to original texts (and
this is why it is so important to make the original texts at least
recoverable--once they are gone, it is really a whole species of
thinking that has become extinct).

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

PS: Andy, what shocked me about Bonnie Nardi's plenum in Sydney was
not her use of "society" or "object": actually, I think I would have
liked it better if she had used those terms a little more imprecisely,
in their folk meanings. In fact, a little more IMPRECISION might have
made it even clearer to us the sheer horror of what she was

For those on the list who missed it, the plenary focused on a world
without jobs--that is, a world where five-day forty-hour jobs are
replaced by "micro-work". Nardi admitted that this was a rather
dystopian state of affairs--but she also showed us what she called the
"bright side": more leisure, less greenhouse gases, and also human
identities less narrowly tied to work. As one person in the conference
pointed out, and Nardi confirmed, it would also mean more time for the
spiritual side of life.

What was not pointed out was the effect of all this on the "object" of
"society", using both terms in their folk senses. The working class is
being ground down into the economic position of short term sex workers
and atomized into the social position of housewives. Inequality is now
at levels not seen since 1820. Even a cursory study of history tells
us that the result of this is not going to be individual spirituality
but rather more violence. The only "bright side" I can see is if that
force is organized, social, and directed against social equality
rather than against fellow members of the working class.