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[Xmca-l] Re: fixed/fluid

Larry, please excuse me stepping in with no knowledge of Williams's book beyond the paragraph you cite but I was struck by how his account of the social (fixed?) and the personal (fluid?) relates to my own developing interest in conceptual and contextual frames of meaning. Concepts are social, formed and RELATIVELY fixed (though mutable and shifting on a slower timescale) and contexts are embodied, here, now and RELATIVELY subjective (though also inescapably intersubjective or intrasubjective) but, as Vygotsky pointed out in his account of language development, the uniquely personal meanings which inhere in specific contexts are surrounded by and immersed in the 'final/ideal form' of conceptual meanings. The 'spontaneous concepts' which are discovered in the patterns of 'first hand' engagement with the environment of things and persons are framed and corralled by the already formed, social 'schooled' or 'scientific' concepts which are shared by members of a culture so the moving cannot really escape from the fixed, though it can certainly wriggle in its grasp. And that wriggling, the felt experience of an imperfect fit between the 'fluid' and the 'fixed' is what allows both to be acknowledged and each to be influenced by the other. Fixed forms change as people's ways of interacting change under their grasp and our fluid ways of acting and interacting are 'contained' and framed by our awareness of (relatively) fixed social patterns, expectations and 'rules'.

My own particular interest in this is in the transition, in early childhood, from an umwelt of contextual meanings, where the 'fixed' structures of concept systems are 'out there' in the fabric of the environment and the minds of others, to a socialised mind which progressively internalises and appropriates these conceptual 'languages'. But the wriggling does not stop at some point when childhood 'gives way' to adulthood and the passions of the flesh are never quite contained by the 'dress' of social constraints!

All the best,


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces+rod.parker-rees=plymouth.ac.uk@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+rod.parker-rees=plymouth.ac.uk@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Larry Purss
Sent: 04 November 2014 07:37
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] fixed/fluid

I have been reflecting on *themes* [activity, meaning, structure, and mathematical systems] I also have kept in mind David's comments recommending turning to *structure of feeling* [chapter 9 of Raymond Williams book "Marxism and Literary"] The theme of the already formed [as sociocultural] which leaves the dynamic *forming and *formative* aspects of lived experience as moved to the
*personal* realm.

Williams wrote on page 7

"IF the social is always past, in the sense that it is always formed, we have indeed to find other terms for the undeniable experience of the
present: not only the temporal present, the realization of this and this, but the SPECIFICITY of present being, the inalienable PHYSICAL, within which we may discern and acknowledge institutions, formations, positions, but not always as fixed products, DEFINING products. And then IF the social IS the fixed and explicit - the KNOWN relationships, institutions, formations, positions, - ALL that is present and moving, ALL that ESCAPES FROM the fixed and the explicit and the KNOWN, IS GRASPED and DEFINED AS the personal: this, HERE, now, alive, active and SUBJECTIVE"

In discussing the *themes* of activity and meaning I find this paragraph indicating the way Raymond Williams figures [out] the way *meaning* develops illuminating.
I see this paragraph as informative and figurative.


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