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[Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance [Language as a form]

I was struck by your comment:

 In many ways it reminds me of the CHAT
reading group many of us at UCLA visualized but never materialized
formally, except that our reading and writing the world with Vygotsky's
ideas (and others) did materialize in the beautiful pedagogical work we
did with migrant students at that time..."

In particular the phrase "reading and writing the world"
Annalisa and Dana have asked how we each came to Vygotsky and this site in
order to to get some sense of who we are as an audience for helping each
other when reading and writing the world.

I will offer my perspective as a "personal" journey to this site.
As a teenager I was searching for what to believe and where to call "home".
I  was drawn to explore "intentional community" and this existential theme
of "home" and "intentional community" as a yearning or drive or motivation
continues today.
I had a hunger that called me to inquiry.
The key word I was playing with was "encapsulated" as in the "encapsulated
I. like many in the 1960's, found "humanistic psychology" as a meaningful
"answer" to my yearnings.
I then encountered at university a professor "Fred Brown" who was
passionate about John Dewey but also wanted to create an "intentional
community" to live out Dewey's ideas by reading and writing intentional
community.  This community continues to exist evoking Fred Brown and John
Dewey's spirit of interpretive community.

I as a career path chose teaching and struggled to find an identity in this
institutional structure.
I encountered Vygotsky through Feurestein and "mediated learning. Kozulin's
book "psychological tools" and Mike Cole's work on literacy in Africa, and
David Olson's work on the world on paper. It was this "strand" of Vygotsky
that held my attention.

I was not linking Dewey and pragmatism to Vygotsky. They were separate
A third major influence was when I encountered "relational psychoanalysis"
which was resituating the understanding of hope and dread within
psychoanalysis, not as drives but as contextualized relational themes.

Each of these strands were personally meaningful and each was translated
into my work as a specialist "reading teacher"

It was much later that I encountered a strand of inquiry that located
humanistic psychology, Dewey, Vygotsky, and Relational psychoanalysis in a
larger arena with shared roots in continental philosophy. To find an
interpretive community that embodied all my separate interests [and my
personal existential yearnings] was inspiring and I was excited and
motivated to understand the roots of what I had perceived as separate
strands that were personal interests but did not relate in some larger

It is THIS larger, more "expansive" vision I experienced as a
Now you can see my journey was through humanistic [3rd wave] psychology
such as Jerome Bruner's work that led me through my wanderings exploring
the causes of the "encapsulated self" that led me to this site. Also
motivated my work as a teacher and then a school counsellor.

My root to this specific site was not through an academic course or
discipline. It was through the realization that the formation of the
encapsulated self had general cultural and historical roots and I was
searching for an interpretive community which would expand my horizons.
I have a need to continue to explore the multiple strands I have mentioned
to answer my big question of why we are so encapsulated in our private

As I have participated in CHAT I have had an overwhelming learning curve
encountering the depth of cultural historical theory as I had little
background in philosophy or linquistics, and other fields explored on this
What I have found, is an "interpretive community" that is passionate,
compassionate, and generative. I have come to embrace the notion of
*reading* as in "reading and writing the world" as central.
The genre of "question and answer" is my preferred style and I read the
current tensions on the site in this spirit of "question and answer" which
Vincent Colapietro writes about. Gadamer is an exponent of this
conversational style or disposition. I come to CHAT with this way of
My actual work life had very little opportunity to explore this question
and answer style in face to face conversations. My question of the
"encapsulated self" was a personal journey, done as a "reader".

I am not focused on "technical"  or "muscular" approaches but I deeply
respect the dedication of people who are. I also have not had a context of
university constraints. My reason for being here is existentially personal.
The archetypal search for "home" for "belonging" as also "our" search. This
is my "answer" to my question.
Vygotsky inspires answers in an interpretive community that is reading and
writing the world.

More dialogical in spirit than dialectical, but recognizing constraint and
resistance as a motivating impulse in relation to freedom and creativity.
"Liquid" modernity as Zygmunt Bauman says is a time of rootlessness with a
zeitgeist of a sense of loss of "home" as we pursue the ideal of "freedom"
and experience the reality of being "encapsulated".

Annalisa, this is my "answer" to your "question".

There is a person here.

On Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 11:02 PM, Zavala, Miguel <
mizavala@exchange.fullerton.edu> wrote:

> Gracias Annalisa and Dana.
> Questions of power have always been central to my work and I am a new
> member of this list (and community) and don't have a broader context as to
> why it was created and whether it is by design meant to grow in its own
> way over time, etc. What I have noticed though is a tendency to focus on
> conceptual clarity (of the work of Vygotsky and Cultural Historical
> Activity Theory and prior, such as Marx). So, I am learning anew in this
> space, taking notes, re-reading.  In many ways it reminds me of the CHAT
> reading group many of us at UCLA visualized but never materialized
> formally, except that our reading and writing the world with Vygotsky's
> ideas (and others) did materialize in the beautiful pedagogical work we
> did with migrant students at that time...
> I hope the question of how we use, expand, enrich, re-envision, and carry
> forward the ideas of Vygotsky (and how these intersect with or interweave
> with power) are considered in an open and non-controlled way.  By
> "non-controlled" I mean the parallel tendency in particular
> circles/communities to challenge work that grows out of particular ideas
> and if those ideas do not adhere to some party-line (or experts on said
> theory don't agree on it) then such work should not define itself as
> "Vygotskian", "CHAT-based", or "Socio-Cultural," etc. My own motivation to
> chime in and contribute would increase if we followed this strand, that
> looks at power and how it is integral to (not a 'factor' or 'external'
> context) learningŠ Although the reading group orientation is still useful.
> Warmly,
> Miguel Zavala
> On 11/26/14 10:38 PM, "Walker, Dana" <Dana.Walker@unco.edu> wrote:
> >Before we leave this topic, I would like to suggest that we pause to
> >consider Annalisa's question:
> >
> >I'm curious how others have been inspired by Vygotsky and
> >sociocultural theory, and even other manifestations of his ideas, such as
> >CHAT, etc and how people are using these approaches in their work. What is
> >that like for you? And to be more specific, what is that like for women
> >and
> >people of color? I'm also interested in thinking-out-loud with others
> >about
> >Vygotskian concepts that are not easy to understand; to employ in real
> >time
> >dialogue and social interaction to leap over zopeds together. Isn't that
> >what a listserv is for? Or am I being too idealistic?
> >
> >
> >For many years I have wondered why the participants on this list so seldom
> >talk from contextualized positions, specifically positioning the self in
> >relation to others and to power relations shaped by race, class, gender,
> >and so on.  I am myself very aware of power relations being played out
> >through the discursive positioning of people in this space, which is why I
> >choose not to speak. I am wondering if any of the subscribers to this list
> >are interested such questions, including the one framed by Annalisa above?
> >Kris Gutierrez is the only one I know of in CHAT/sociocultural theory who
> >deals with these issues, for example in her article "Developing a
> >Sociocritical Literacy in the Third Space"(2008). But I'm sure there are
> >others.
> >
> >Dana
> >
> >On 11/26/14 10:49 PM, "Carol Macdonald" <carolmacdon@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >>Hi
> >>
> >>There have been some off list postings about this phenomenon. None of it
> >>complimentary.  This cannot be sorted out in one move.
> >>
> >>I propose that we move onto a different thread -  topic.
> >>
> >>Mike, would you like to start us off on something new?
> >>
> >>Carol
> >>
> >>On 27 November 2014 at 02:49, Martin John Packer
> >><mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>
> >>wrote:
> >>
> >>> Andy, if you're going to retire, then retire. But don't aim one or two
> >>> more underhand blows behind the feint of retiring.
> >>>
> >>> Martin
> >>>
> >>> On Nov 26, 2014, at 7:24 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
> >>>
> >>> > Well this bloke will retire again at this point. I thought for a
> >>>brief
> >>> moment there, I thought we had a breakthrough. Certainly, Huw's "real
> >>> illusion" is perfectly apt to my mind (it's an expression Marx uses),
> >>>or
> >>> in  Eric Fromm's words, an illusion with "survival value." Martin says
> >>> "Consciousness is an objective process that *sometimes* can *give rise
> >>>to*
> >>> illusions." As Vygotsky says "For him psychology is partly
> >>>phenomenology."
> >>> > Andy
> >>> >
> >>>------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >>> > *Andy Blunden*
> >>> > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> >>> >
> >>> >
> >>> > Bruce Robinson wrote:
> >>> >> Henry,
> >>> >>
> >>> >> Your wife's question leads to another: who speaks for the silent
> >>> majority, many of whom, like me, must be getting fed up with what David
> >>>K
> >>> calls a "rather blokish struggle for power over particular words'? [Not
> >>> Richard Nixon :)]
> >>> >>
> >>> >> Bruce R
> >>> >>
> >>> >> PS: You may also note that I have not changed the subject heading of
> >>> this message so that it bears no relation to the content. Something
> >>>else I
> >>> find irritating...
> >>> >>
> >>> >> On 26/11/2014 17:16, HENRY SHONERD wrote:
> >>> >>> Sister Analisa,
> >>> >>> Thank you for responding! I was just talking to my wife (getting
> >>> personal!) about the chat. She asked me, "How does anyone get to
> >>> participate in the (XMCA) chat if only a few people take part?" I
> >>>wondered
> >>> in my email below if too much was expected of written communication in
> >>>the
> >>> XMCA chat. With 800 people potentially taking turns, well...what is
> >>>even
> >>> possible logistically? Mike Cole has talked about this, and, I think,
> >>>has
> >>> some suggestions on how to deal with the bottlenecking. But even small
> >>> scale communication can be daunting. I watched, with my wife, a Richard
> >>> Linklater movie last night, "Before Midnight". Two people, face to
> >>>face, in
> >>> a totally committed relationship, smart people, good people, trying so
> >>>hard
> >>> to get it right. Always a work in progress. But it's worth it. The
> >>> alternative is despair. I am sure of this: This chat, which seems to
> >>>get
> >>> bogged down in abstractions, pure thinking in the mud, is really
> >>> consequential beyond the sensitivities of academics. I said we
> >>> >> va
> >>> >>>  lue Vygotsky's "heroism", but that's too macho. I should have said
> >>> courage.
> >>> >>>
> >>> >>> The Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis is a powerful idea, often
> >>>called
> >>> the Whorf/Sapir hypothesis. Google it. Really. See what you think. One
> >>> gauge of the power of an idea is if it has found its way into popular
> >>> discourse. I just this morning heard an NPR radio program (thanks again
> >>>to
> >>> my wife, who was listening when she heard something she thought I would
> >>>be
> >>> interested in) that dealt with the Whorf/Sapir hypothesis in its strong
> >>>and
> >>> weak form.
> >>> >>>
> >>> >>> Henry
> >>> >>>
> >>> >>>> On Nov 25, 2014, at 10:11 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu>
> >>> wrote:
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> Dear Henry,
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> Thank you for your reply.
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> I don't think being personal (or even personable) requires being
> >>> heated. Does this have to do with my comment of warmth as a sign of
> >>>welcome?
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> To speak about culture non-personally is not something I am adept
> >>>at
> >>> doing. We are always speaking from where we stand, the culture that we
> >>>are
> >>> in or from, what-have-you.
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> Respectfully, I do not know what "linguistic relativity
> >>>hypothesis"
> >>> is. So please be patient with me while I connect this academic idea you
> >>> have offered to this conversation so that I can relate that to my
> >>>personal
> >>> experience speaking on this thread, though clearly I'm not speaking
> >>> literally right now, but it is speech from me, not a sock puppet with
> >>>my
> >>> voice thrown from the position of objective reality.
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> You are talking about speaking two languages. But it seems we are
> >>>all
> >>> speaking English on this list. So I'm a bit lost right there what you
> >>>are
> >>> trying to say to me.
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> Then, you speak of metalinguistics and how it represents different
> >>> worldviews, if you don't mind me swapping your use of "perspective" for
> >>> worldview. There is a lot of time clearing muckups to get it right. I'm
> >>>not
> >>> sure that it ever gets right though, which troubles me. I have found
> >>>that
> >>> many people who have different worldviews communicate by "talking to,"
> >>> rather than "talking at." I feel, for example, you and I are talking to
> >>>one
> >>> another, despite our likely different POVs.
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> I don't know what the "perish and dapple of Andy" means when you
> >>>say
> >>> that. From what I can tell he's trying to define something for himself
> >>> asking for the help of others. That's fine and I'm learning that
> >>> definitions are very bas-relief for him. I think my interests are a
> >>>little
> >>> different. So I'd prefer to orient to my interests, if that is OK.
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> Speaking of metalinguistics, rather than debate over definitions,
> >>>I'm
> >>> more interested in speaking to the very different people who are on
> >>>this
> >>> list. The rumor is there are 800 folks out there. Where are you? :) To
> >>> reference a highly academic quote from the Wizard of Oz:
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> "Come out, come out wherever you are, and meet the young lady who
> >>> fell from the star!"
> >>> >>>> --Glinda, the Good Witch from the North (waves magic wand)
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> I'm curious how others have been inspired by Vygotsky and
> >>> sociocultural theory, and even other manifestations of his ideas, such
> >>>as
> >>> CHAT, etc and how people are using these approaches in their work. What
> >>>is
> >>> that like for you? And to be more specific, what is that like for women
> >>>and
> >>> people of color? I'm also interested in thinking-out-loud with others
> >>>about
> >>> Vygotskian concepts that are not easy to understand; to employ in real
> >>>time
> >>> dialogue and social interaction to leap over zopeds together. Isn't
> >>>that
> >>> what a listserv is for? Or am I being too idealistic?
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> I have tried to speak in an open, easy, and immediate manner, to
> >>> allow others to engage. But I fear that engagement is never going to
> >>>happen
> >>> because all that persists are conversations about definitions, or
> >>>whether
> >>> nothing can come from nothing, and voila! subsequent debates ensue. Or
> >>> someone will say, "We already discussed this 20 years ago!" Which means
> >>>I
> >>> missed the party, I suppose. Unfortunately, if I disagree with a
> >>>position
> >>> because I interpret differently, then I'm told to go read something
> >>>without
> >>> really a clear explanation why I'm supposed to go read something.
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> I don't really agree with the approach of "read this," as an
> >>>academic
> >>> argument. Anyone is free to use it, and I have myself, but because I
> >>>know
> >>> how obtuse that can be, I couch it with my reasons why I think it would
> >>>be
> >>> a good read for that person, and what I think there is learn from
> >>>reading.
> >>> I think the "read this" approach, when it is offered with the tone of
> >>>"now
> >>> go eat your vegetables!" fails in the making of speech between people.
> >>>All
> >>> it does is shut things down.
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> If the reading truly is relevant, it seems far more productive in
> >>>the
> >>> moment of speech to cue a person what to look for, to supply a context,
> >>> especially when referencing an entire book, for example, or the link to
> >>>an
> >>> entire website full of texts.
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> Your assessment in the physicality of language is something with
> >>> which I am completely in agreement. Especially since we all seem to
> >>>agree
> >>> with the material aspects of language. So the question at hand is a
> >>>matter
> >>> of form. Form has an aesthetic but also has a purpose. Are we throwing
> >>> ropes or throwing boulders? If throwing boulders, where does that need
> >>>to
> >>> throw boulders come from? If throwing ropes, then at least connections
> >>>are
> >>> being made for those who might not be very clear about ideas and who
> >>>may
> >>> require a helping hand.
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> Then there's the old, but handy, elliptical comment, something
> >>>like a
> >>> boomerang... meant to be subtle or ironic at the expense of someone who
> >>>may
> >>> not understand.
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> At this point, I'd to emphasize that being ignorant is not being
> >>> stupid, but it seems someone who is ignorant is frequently treated as
> >>> stupid (um, on this list). This "phenomenon" has made me reflect upon
> >>>how
> >>> little time is spent upon the nature of ignorance in education and the
> >>> dynamics of ignorance in speaking. Every one of us is ignorant about
> >>>most
> >>> things in the world. And yet being ignorant is seen as an
> >>>embarrassment, a
> >>> deficiency, a lapse in character. I vehemently disagree with this
> >>>reception
> >>> to ignorance. Even Einstein said something like, "The more I know, the
> >>>more
> >>> I see how much I don't know." Such an aggressive position toward
> >>>ignorance
> >>> is nothing but hurtful, even arrogant. Arrogance is a blister, a
> >>>defense
> >>> mechanism from previous hurt. A person who is honest about one's own
> >>> ignorance is a very strong person and is showing a willingness to learn
> >>> something. I think all teachers will agree that a person who knows one
> >>> doesn't know is an easier student to teach tha
> >>> >> n
> >>> >>>   one who doesn't know one doesn't know.
> >>> >>>> Iconicity is something I can hang my hat on. I see it is related
> >>>to
> >>> pointing. What I like about pointing is that it is a gesture, which
> >>>implies
> >>> movement, in the way the word is also movement. I hope I have made
> >>> sufficient personal connections to your concepts without the heat.
> >>>Thank
> >>> you for offering them to me.
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> Kind regards,
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>> Annalisa
> >>> >>>>
> >>> >>>
> >>> >>
> >>> >>
> >>> >>
> >>> >>
> >>> >
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>
> >>
> >>--
> >>Carol A  Macdonald Ph D (Edin)
> >>Developmental psycholinguist
> >>Academic, Researcher,  and Editor
> >>Honorary Research Fellow: Department of Linguistics, Unisa
> >
> >