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[Xmca-l] Re: Verismo and the Gothic



Annalisa:

Sorry if I filled up your in-box with opera--I thought the link was
external, and voluntary. I guess I find links like that useful, because
it's something that I can put on in the background while I do other things
(writing lectures these days). I then foreground it when it has something
important to say, e.g. when La Wally turns from being an inter-mental bit
of verismo melodrama to a relentlessly intra-mental Gothic tragedy. It
seems to me that this backgrounding-and-foregrounding is one way to handle
the intellectual overload that I sometimes feel with xmca.

But I confess that opera is also a way of dealing with intellectual
pollution: the plethora of psychological poisons we have to imbibe when we
use the internet, or ride a subway in downtown Seoul packed with perfectly
normal human beings and lined with publicity for plastic surgery clinics in
Gangnam which make them look like the "before" photos in
those invidious "before" and "after" comparisons. Seeing teenagers acted by
middle-aged divas and on-stage starving waifs enacted by off-stage
millionaires  is a good antidote in many ways; the outrages of opera are
distanced by history; they don't cling to your thought processes the way
that earworms do when you're grocery shopping, and when the music does stay
in your mind, the experience is rather more pleasant than otherwise.

Marshall Brown has an important book on "The Gothic Text" (Stanford UP,
2005) which begins with this familiar trope that intellectuals use where
you try to introduce your theme by saying that it's really not what you
think it is, in exactly three ways. So for example Gothic novels are not
actually exciting (they often contain literally hundreds of pages of
descriptions of natural scenery, which is where Chamonix comes into the
picture). They aren't, actually, an English or even a German mode of
writing (they were mostly by and about non-Germans wishing they were). And
they aren't exclusively by women (on the contrary, the really daring
contributions to the genre, now forgotten because they are so tame by our
own standards, were all by men).

But then Brown has to explain what a Gothic text actually IS, and the
answer will surprise you (though it won't surprise Andy too much). A Gothic
text is one which has read Kant as fiction, i.e., the way that Hegel reads
him. Kant, you see, has a kind of brooding, Goth side of him; it is this
side that will eventually cause him to acknowledge that his early critique
of Swedenborg (titled, Gothically, "Dreams of a Spirit-Seer") was wrong:
the philosophers are, in fact, Spirit-seers. More generally, Kant is part
of a very general post-(French)-revolutionary "inward turn" which I think
was the direct counterpart of the "inward turn" from "the personal is
political" that reaches outward to from personal problems to social
solutions to "the personal is political" which shuns social solutions in
favor of individual problems.

Vygotsky takes Tolstoy to task (in Psychology of Art) for complaining about
music which you just sit and listen to. Music, for Tolstoy, is made to make
you do something (march or at least dance), just as children's literature
is not just there to entertain children--it has to convey certain world
views to them, e.g. prepare them for the afterlife, or at least the
after-childhood-life. I don't really think that Vygotsky was a "romantic
scientist" but I certainly do think that his attitude to art was much more
romantic (and therefore anti-modernist, given his context) than that of
Tolstoy or even those of the modernists Vygotsky frequented.

Vygotsky did believe in music which you just sit and listen to (e.g. Mahler
rather than Mozart). For this, you need to see the composer and musicians
as fellow hearers and not as band-leaders and followers; you need to take
consciousness itself as your hero. Mike's observation is that the true
topic of this thread is something like temporality. I agree with this, with
the proviso that we define temporality not in relation to minutes or hours
but in relation to moments of atemporality: there are certain modes of
being in language that are far more temporal (e.g. dialogue) and others
that are far more atemporal (narrative), just as there are moments in music
that are about the interaction between persons (recitatives) and others
which are about reflections within them (arias).

Vygotsky likes to use the word "moment" when he describes development, but
it's clear that he uses the word in an atemporal (Andy would say Hegelian)
sense, to refer to a logical stage rather than something longer than a
minute and shorter than an hour. In the same way, the Zoped is logical and
not temporal; it's a logical zone between a person and a potential self and
not a temporal distinction between "before" and "after" images, let alone a
gap between normal human beings and surgically mutilated ones.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies





On 18 February 2015 at 05:25, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

> Seems like a new thread on temporality is emerging. To continue Henry's
> line of thought:
>
> Edelman quotes E.G. Boring, early/mid-20th century American psychologist on
> this topic, which Boring conducted research on......
>
> To be aware of a conscious datum is to be sure that it has passed. The
> nearest actual approach to immediate introspection is early retrospection.
> The experience described, if there be any such, is always just past; the
> descriptionREMEMBERING THE FUTURE 249 is present. However, if I ask myself
> how I know the description is present, I find myself describing the
> processes that made up the description; the original describing is past. .
> . . Experience itself is at the end of the introspective rainbow. The
> rainbow may have an end and the end may be somewhere; yet I seem never to
> get to it. (Boring, 1933/1963, p. 228).
>
>
> I wrote on this topic a while back linking it to the organization of
> reading instruction, in case that might be of interest:
>
>
> http://lchc.ucsd.edu/People/MCole/Cole_Remembering%20the%20Future0001.pdf
>
>
> mike
>
> On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 11:05 AM, HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > Re: Past and Present:
> > There’s a book by Gerald Edelman: The Remembered Present. It’s a book
> > about consciousness by a biologist who shared the Nobel prize in 1972 for
> > physiology in medicine. I think the title gets at the constructive nature
> > of the present. I like to think that the present is the sweet spot
> between
> > past and future that can be sensed, but never grasped. Dialog, when it
> > “works”, captures that on stage presence of actors when they respond to
> one
> > another in the moment. It’s not just theater, though theater is a great
> > metaphor for it.
> > Henry
> >
> > > On Feb 17, 2015, at 10:38 AM, Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu>
> > wrote:
> > >
> > > Perhaps it is just what I am reading right now (Heidegger and Marcuse
> on
> > technology - Marcuse by the way was a close associate of Bloch and they
> > shared a Utopian vision of hope as moving beyond a class based society).
> > But to get back to my point - is present something we can take from the
> > past?  The idea of present as an utterance taken from Bhaktin?  Is
> > technology changing our understanding of what the present means.  I read
> > posts in the present such as those from David and Annalise but they then
> > they fall into the past as I move on to other things.  Then I read a post
> > that brings their words back into the present, in concrete terms (as Huw
> so
> > often does), or in reflection on the current thinking of the poster (as
> > Larry so often does) or simply as an extension of the conversation as in
> > the post below from Helena.  Do technologies allow the past to keep
> > circling back into the present - and what does that mean for our concept
> of
> > time?
> > >
> > > Notes from a very, very cold day in Columbus - can't wait for winter to
> > be in the past.
> > >
> > > Michael
> > >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
> > xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Helena Worthen
> > > Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 12:29 PM
> > > To: vygotsky@unm.edu; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Verismo and the Gothic
> > >
> > > I love the idea of the present as "the length of an utterance." So, how
> > long is an utterance? I remember from The Dialogic Imagination that an
> > utterance is the unit of speech that occurs between two other links in a
> > dialog (a quick google search on this got me here) "in any sphere."
> > >
> > > Bakhtin certainly views dialogs as spanning vast eras, and views the
> > individual turns in a dialog as spanning more than just one person's
> > contribution.
> > >
> > > So if we think of a bounded thread of cultural history -- like
> feminism,
> > for example, or slavery, or terrorism - as one link in a continuing
> dialog
> > about each of these, we can talk about the "present" of feminism, the
> > "present" of slavery, the "present" of terorism. We are all (or many of
> us)
> > talking about feminism in a certain way today, which is different from
> the
> > way we talked about in the previous bounce, or turn, or whatever you want
> > to call it, of the dialog. So starting with when the current meaning of
> > feminism started, and bounded in the past by when the previous meaning
> > began to shift, we can talk about the "present" of the utterance of the
> > dialog of feminism. This gives us something that we can look at and think
> > about.
> > >
> > > Too loose for only one cup of coffee? It's a nice foggy day in the Bay
> > Area, not enough to count as rain but at least it's damp.
> > >
> > > Obviously, I've just seen "She's Beautiful When She's Angry," a really
> > good movie.
> > >
> > >
> > > Helena Worthen
> > > helenaworthen@gmail.com
> > >
> > > On Feb 16, 2015, at 9:35 PM, Vera John-Steiner wrote:
> > >
> > >> Philosophers and related folks have great difficulty in defining the
> > >> boundaries of the present; when does it start? when does it end?
> > >> Michael Silverstein, a linguist, once defined it as the length of an
> > >> utterance. I have been thinking about it in terms of organic processes
> > >> such as birthing and dying where each moment leads to a definitive
> > >> outcome not just an anticipation but as close to certainty as we are
> > >> capable of understanding.
> > >> It is pleasant to discuss the "principle of hope" in what so often
> > >> feels like a pretty hopeless world.
> > >>
> > >> And I agree with Annalisa that there are higher mental processes that
> > >> while influenced by language are built on other modalities.
> > >>
> > >> Vera
> > >>
> > >> -----Original Message-----
> > >> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
> > >> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Annalisa
> Aguilar
> > >> Sent: Monday, February 16, 2015 10:07 PM
> > >> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > >> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Verismo and the Gothic
> > >>
> > >> David!
> > >>
> > >> You made me chuckle in the presentation of your opera which was a nice
> > >> present!
> > >>
> > >> What was also amusing is the posting of a 2+ hour opera (from
> > >> youtube), which makes the trend of posting large objects to the list
> > >> writ large! :)
> > >>
> > >> Of course I do not mean to substitute the kitsch for the original, by
> > >> asking for an orientation to the work of Bloch (what you are calling
> > >> executive
> > >> summaries) Just access, as a starting point, a "you are here" in the
> > >> present moment!
> > >>
> > >> And by the way I'm still reading the Marvakis paper!
> > >>
> > >> Also, I'll have you know that by solicitous magic carpets I received
> > >> the second volume of Bloch in my email box and so if anyone would like
> > >> it please email me. Technology can be magical after all! I even
> > >> received the Principle of Hope in German (Das Prinzip Hoffnung)!!!!
> > >> Even Aesthetics and Politics
> > >> (1977) which includes essays by Bloch, Brecht, Benjamin, Lukács, and
> > >> Adorno
> > >> (111 pages) in a kind of dialogic presentation of writing which looks
> > >> quite intriguing. Last, the piece de la resistance, Bloch's On Karl
> > Marx (1971)!!!
> > >> Again there is nothing but bounty out there!
> > >>
> > >> I am sorry that Bergson would bar you from the men's room at the other
> > >> end of the mall! But it would be like a dualist to split things up
> > >> with distances; dualists do that kind of long division. I would be
> > >> suspicious of Catholics for the reason and that moment they spring up
> > >> unannounced in Monty Python skits, stealing the show!
> > >>
> > >> Moi, I am still (perhaps naively) of the conception that Vygotsky is
> > >> always referencing the moment of change which can only be in the
> > >> present moment, he is always open to possibility that something new
> > >> can happen. This is the aesthetic experience. Some might interpret
> > >> that anticipation as hope, I'm OK with that. But you are the one who
> > >> is saying (in the present moment -- that is in relation to this xmca
> > >> post as I am reading it now, which is a different now than when you
> > wrote it) that Bergson is accepted by Vygotsky.
> > >> Now, for my edification, is this historical or theoretical or
> > hypothetical?
> > >>
> > >> In Vedic thought, we would say that anything that changes is not real;
> > >> anything that does not change is the only thing that is real. So it
> > >> all depends upon how one defines what is real. Is what is real what we
> > >> label as real? (Ceci n'est pas un pipe.) Or is there anything true
> > >> about this concept of what is real, at all?
> > >>
> > >> In terms of individuation, apparently there are likely different forms
> > >> of mediating between lower psychological function and the higher. I am
> > >> not persuaded that higher ones are solely linguistically mediated.
> > >> Though there may be a kind of language, or pattern which negotiates
> > >> this mediation. I believe there is plural room for other plural forms.
> > >>
> > >> Vygotsky was exceptionally gifted in linguistically mediated higher
> > >> forms and so he was sensitive to seeing that in the world, in others.
> > >> And these were socially mediated, so I am not refuting that. But then,
> > >> is it not possible to have higher forms of psychological processes
> > >> which are not linguistically mediated? If not, then why not? That
> > >> seems like attempting to prove a false positive (á la Weapons of Mass
> > >> Destruction leading to a Mission Accomplished).
> > >>
> > >> As someone who thinks in metaphorical pictures, as well as "affective
> > >> pictures," I don't experience these as lower psychological functions,
> > >> and so perhaps there is too much privileging of "linguistically
> > >> mediated" higher ones. Frequently I might have an immediacy of
> > >> concepts as derived conclusions, but it is difficult to actually put
> > >> them into words. But this poignancy isn't less potent thinking (or
> > >> lower), in fact it is the case that the words just do not serve well
> > >> enough to explain the form of thinking. The meaning is implicated
> > rather than explicated.
> > >>
> > >> Mozart was not a genius of words, but perhaps a genius of what might
> > >> be called "musical pictures" or "musical sentences" however one might
> > >> want to represent that. We know that Einstein imagined in pictures as
> > >> well, I would protest to describe his thinking as happening in the
> > >> neighborhood of lower psychological processes.
> > >>
> > >> I always loved in the movie Australia, (OK it is Hollywood... sorry
> > >> about that), the aboriginal notion (as represented in the movie) of "I
> > >> sing you to me," or, "You are nothing if you do not have your song."
> > >> Or something to that effect.
> > >>
> > >> Which definitely seems to apply to Opera, but in the West, tends to
> > >> kill off all the divas. Oh well.(feminist note-taking .) But let's
> > >> keep singing anyway.
> > >>
> > >> I have commented in the past that the scientific revolution did
> > >> contribute to the dualism of the rational and the affective and these
> > >> coincide with Realism and Gothicism in art. This is why I find art
> > >> such a great touchstone, because it is the evidence of the MIND of the
> > times.
> > >>
> > >> In terms of your analysis of Wally's mind, any of these positions and
> > >> situations cannot but happen in the present moment, even if it is
> > >> displayed in an opera (as the staging of an imagination), because we
> > >> can only imagine in the present moment while watching the opera (on
> > youtube, no less) .
> > >> Imagination of the past is a memory, in the future an insight or
> > >> premonition, in sleep a dream. Despite these mental states in motion,
> > >> we can never leave the present moment even if our minds astro-travel
> > >> through time-traveling machines called books, which offer to us the
> > >> means of visiting other people's imaginations!  :)
> > >>
> > >> If you disagree about the present moment being the only location for
> > >> imagining (past or future), then please explain to me how to eradicate
> > >> the present moment to explain these different kind of imaginings
> > >> *without* the present involved? I welcome that explanation!
> > >>
> > >> However I cannot even imagine that because, here I am in the present
> > >> moment, still!
> > >>
> > >> And now still!
> > >>
> > >> Kind regards,
> > >>
> > >> Annalisa
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >
> > >
> >
> >
> >
>
>
> --
> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an object
> that creates history. Ernst Boesch.
>