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[Xmca-l] Re: Interdisciplinarity and Transdisciplinarity



BBC Radio Three just did a short performance of Beethoven's Fifth. Whenever
I hear it, I am reminded of E.M. Forster's "Howard's End", where Margaret,
Helen, and Tuppy go to hear it, and meet the working class tragic hero of
the novel Leonard Bast (Helen steals his umbrella after the concert).
Margaret hears pure structure. Helen hears an elaborate narrative involving
dancing elephants and evil goblins, and Tuppy only has ears for a
particular moment when the drum links two themes.

The great myth of epoch-changing works is that they always bomb on the
first night. Now, in this relatively rare case, the myth is apparently
quite true. A lot of the reasons are circumstantial; there was a Handel
Oratorio competing for players and audience on opening night, but some of
them are not. The critics complained, quite correctly, that the Fifth
doesn't really have tunes, and where it does, the tunes don't unify in any
way. Helen's narrative--and Tuppy's anxiousness to hear the drum--reflect
this peculiarity of the sympony. I myself have always felt the Fifth
repetitious and over-insistent; I much prefer the Sixth.

But Margaret is right. What the Fifth has, and what explains ALL of these
reactions, is what Davydov would call a "germ cell". It's a rhythmic unit
which appears in every movement and every tune and which makes it possible
to see the music as a Gestalt--a single structure. And of course structure
is a theme. I don't mean that a structure is a theme; I simply mean that
the idea that anything can be seen in terms of the "germ cells" that make
it up is a theme, and it's actually quite an important theme in CHAT.

I think that SOME of the things we are discussing on this thread do
constitute themes in this way--that is, they are not aspects of content but
ways of considering any content. Any content can be considered as quantity,
and any content can be considered as history. Also, any content can be
considered as structure, which is why Margaret does not have to translate
the music into a narrative and why she doesn't need to pay attention to
particular concrete links to see the unity of the music as a whole.

Of course it is POSSIBLE to see any artwork as performance art, but it's a
little like seeing any utterance as vocabulary: there are diminishing
returns. If we consider paintings as performances, we get Jackson Pollock
on film (a film which apparently led to a suicide-murder of three people).
Science as mere performance is simply Republican anti-science in
fashionable Judith Butler jargon (Ken Hyland's work on academic writing
comes to mind here, and not at all in a favorable light). Nevertheless, I
think Annalisa's comment is useful: it points to a serious gap in CHAT
terminology.

As Andy points out, tool use and sign use are both considered, from a
purely logical, synoptic point of view, forms of mediating activity. We
have good terms for the use of signs (language, verbal thinking,
communication). But when we refer to tool use, we say things like "labor"
(which necessarily involves sign use) or simply "activity" (which is the
hypernym of activity, and so like "meaning" creates confusion, because it
is both part and whole).So we need a term for kinds of mediating activity
which involve tools but which do not involve any sign use at all. I not
only do not know what to call it, I can't even think of a good example. (I
tend to think of the distinction grammatically--as a distinction between
transitivity, which involves a subject-object relation, and dialogue, which
is always subject-to-subject).

I think that "sustainability", in the form of "metastability" is an
important concept in systemic-functional linguistics. One way to think
about it is rather structuralist: things remain what they are by changing
all the time (in China I had a bicycle like this, where every part had been
replaced, some of them many times, and of course Otto Neurath raised the
problem of whether a boat which had replaced every part was still the same
boat). If you think of entities as decomposible into elements, this is not
workable; if you think of them as "Gestalten" there is no problem at all.

Another way to think about sustainability and metastability is as a form of
development: it is the second phase, after genesis and before decay and
death. I think the reason why sustainability has become a major theme in
the 21st century has to do with the fact that as a species we are now
entering this phase; we have to establish metastable relationships with our
environment or face immediate decay and death.

But a third way to think about metastability is as a form of meaning: a
semiotic system like language is what it is not because "tout se tient" at
every point but because each part is being replaced at every moment. Note
that this view of metastability doesn't exclude the structuralist view--it
simply sees it as an imaginary "snapshot" in a continuous movement. Nor
does it exclude the theme of development: Halliday, in fact, describes the
change of English from a more transitive grammar of doings ("I hunt
aurochs", "I gather berries", "I raise goats", "I make commodities") to a
more ergative grammar of happenings ("The animals run", "The berries grow",
etc.). N.I. Marr, the big Soviet linguist iin Vygotsky's time, saw ergative
grammar as the past; Halliday sees it as our future.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

They just played  structures, there is no problem; if you think of them as
matter, the

I always think there are   I think that in CHAT we think of sustainability
as a kind of development.

On 25 February 2015 at 09:03, Peter <peterfh46@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hello,
>
> I was thinking about this recently when writing a grant proposal on
> a"sustainability" project. Sustainability has replaced "green", "Eco" and
> other keywords as a catchall term for socially and environmentally
> responsible engagement with the world. Its a concept that can be integrated
> into any traditional discipline, but not necessarily emanating from one of
> them in particular, I think it truly does represent a transdisciplinary
> notion. Something like environmental studies is interdisciplinary in nature
> because it pulls from various disciplines and is integrated in a new one.
> Sustainability studies on the other hand can reside within disciplines such
> as history, geography, philosophy etc.
>
> Sustainability studies would also fit the definition you mention about a
> discipline that seeks to eliminate itself.
>
> I suppose globalization studies, which seem to be growing in popularity,
> would be another example of this type of transdisciplinary concept
>
> Best,
>
> Peter
>
> > On Feb 25, 2015, at 7:10 AM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu> wrote:
> >
> > Hello all,
> >
> > I would agree with you David Ki, but for Transdisciplinary, I'd say it
> is a discipline that doesn't quite fit anywhere because it bisects many
> different disciplines.
> >
> > For example, in the arts we have painting, sculpture, photography,
> printmaking, video, film, then there is multimedia which borrows from all
> the others, such as with conceptual art, which is attempting to use the
> other mediums for a particular purpose alongside the other mediums. I'd say
> this is analogous to cross-disciplinary.
> >
> > However performance art is all and neither of these mediums because
> performance art transcends the others as it uses the human body along with
> the environment and it is time-based and usually temporary. Consider Joseph
> Beuys, for example, using a dead hare and himself. So this would be
> analogous to transdisciplinary.
> >
> > I'd not call opera transdisciplinary, but multimedia, because it's more
> about the music, most of all, one can enjoy the opera without the stage or
> knowing who the performers are. The opera is recast and repurposed but it
> is always interpretive of the original score.
> >
> > I'd suggest a discipline whose purpose is to eliminate itself would be
> possibly transdisciplinary. Or disciplines that incorporate activism, to
> take the knowledge out into the streets, possibly, perhaps peace studies.
> >
> > Kind regards,
> >
> > Annalisa
> >
> >
>
>