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[Xmca-l] Re: The Ego and the Interpersonality

Dear Maria Christina:

Halliday's a linguist--mostly a grammarian, although his theory of systemic
functional linguistics has important applications throughout phonetics,
phonology, semantics, text and discourse. The remark I was citing is not a
quote, but my own summary of "New Ways of Meaning: The Challenge to Applied
Linguistics", which is in "The Ecolinguistics Reader", edited by Alwin Fill
and Peter Muhlhausler, London and New York, 2001, pp. 175-202. I've heard
him refer to the "First Time Fails" principle several times in person, most
recently at the 40th International System Functional Linguistics
Association Congress in Guangzhou in July 2014.

In Guangzhou, Halliday distinguished between the Chinese land reform in
the  late1940s and early1950s, in which he personally took part, and the
Stalinist "land reform" of Vygotsky's time, which triggered the famines of
the early thirties. The Chinese land reforms worked--at least as long as
land reformers continued to incorporate information "from the bottom"--for
example, peasant opinions on how far to equalize holdings, peasant feeling
on whether animals and livestock should be included, and peasant sentiment
on which landlords were legitimate targets when. In this way, the land
reforms largely replicated what peasants themselves were historically wont
to do in times of hunger. When the land reforms went much further than that
(e.g. during the so-called "Great Leap Forward" and the "People's Communes"
of the late fifties) they failed. This isn't in "New Ways of Meaning", but
you can read about it in "Language Turned Against Himself", a set of
biographical interviews Halliday has given over the years.


Like many others (Gordon Wells, Heidi Byrnes, Ruqaiya Hasan, and, on this
list, Haydi Zulfal) I have struggled with the relationship between Halliday
and Vygotsky over the years. Halliday describes language as "metafunctions"
made up of systems (menus of choices) while Vygotsk describes the mind
as psychological systems made up of functions (activity potential). But
Halliday himself says that his model of consciousness is a Vygotskyan one,
and in many places Halliday's terminology is much closer to Vygotsky than
that of many Vygotskyans. For example, Halliday uses the categories of
phylogenesis, sociogenesis, ontogenesis and "logogenesis", instead of
talking about "microgenesis" ("microgenesis" is a term Vygotsky must have
known about from his Gestalist colleagues but does not use himself). So I
think that the differences, if they exist, are simply that Halliday is much
more interested in moment-by-moment logogenesis, while Vygotsky takes
ontogenesis as his explanandum and learning (or "logogenesis") as explanans.

I guess I think that the real symbiosis between Halliday and Vygotsky goes
much deeper than terminology and even deeper than the primary focus of
their explanation: Halliday self-describes as Marxist, and he was certainly
familiar with the Stalinist currents of linguistics from his activity in
the Communist Party, but his linguistic focus seems idealist to many, just
as Vygotsky seemed a language-obsessed idealist to his immediate followers
(Leontiev, Zinchenko). Both Vygotsky and Halliday see free will as the key
problem to be explained and both set about explaining it by stating
that external options in the social situation of development are what bring
about the activity of choosing (lines of development) and at last the
initernalization of systems of choices (neoformations). The "First Time
Fails" is--to me--a simple description of the necessary time lag between
the presence of choices in the environment and the emergence of true,
informed free will in the chooser: free will as the (hopefully not too
tardy) recognition of necessity.

David Kellogg

On Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 12:12 AM, Maria Cristina Migliore <
migliore@ires.piemonte.it> wrote:

> Dear David,
> I am finding very interesting these lines in your email:
>> as Halliday likes to say,
>> the first attempts by humans to create designed solutions which will
>> replace evolved ones (land reform, Esperanto, public education, heavier
>> than air flight) are always failures, because humans do not take the
>> natural environment and its evolved solutions seriously enough.
> Could you advise me some readings of this author, Halliday, whom I do not
> know, please?
> Many thanks,
> Cristina
> Maria Cristina Migliore, Ph.D.
> Senior Researcher
> IRES Istituto Ricerche Economico Sociali del Piemonte
> Via Nizza, 18
> 10125 Torino – Italia
> *P*Please consider your environmental responsibility before printing this
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> Il 18/04/2015 23:42, David Kellogg ha scritto:
>> I think Brook is very influenced by his work on the Bhagavad Gita, which
>> he
>> sees as essentially the same story (Arjuna as Hamlet and Krishna as
>> Horatio). There too the issue is "Taint not your mind". Or, to put it in
>> somewhat less spiritual and more materialist terms:
>> "These events show the young man, already somewhat stout, making the most
>> ineffective use of the new approach to Reason which he has picked up at
>> the
>> university of Wittenberg. In the feudal business to which he returns it
>> simply hampers him. Faced with irrational practices, his reason is utterly
>> unpractical." (Brecht on Theatre, p. 202)
>> Aye, there's the rub. By creating an imaginary environment called Reason
>> and then adapting to that instead of to Nature red in tooth and claw,
>> human
>> beings have opted out of the laws of evolution, but at the same time
>> failed
>> to really put anything workable in their place: as Halliday likes to say,
>> the first attempts by humans to create designed solutions which will
>> replace evolved ones (land reform, Esperanto, public education, heavier
>> than air flight) are always failures, because humans do not take the
>> natural environment and its evolved solutions seriously enough. Icarus is
>> not simply, as Auden writes, an unimportant failure tumbling from the sky;
>> Icarus's tragedy is that he simply does not include enough information
>> from
>> below.
>> My father, as a graduate student, took part in the hydrogen bomb tests on
>> the Bikini Atoll. These tests had the effect of wiping the natural
>> environment of a group of Marshall Islanders from the face of the earth.
>> But within a few years I was born with a birth defect which would, in
>> another age, have resulted in almost immediate infant death (one reason
>> why
>> I decided not to have children despite a lifelong interest in child
>> development). From the fate of the Bikini Islanders (ditto the blind,
>> blundering way that humans have walked backwards into global warming) we
>> can easily see that our conquest of nature has, for the most part, failed
>> to substitute acts of human reason for the violence of natural law in much
>> the same way as Hamlet fails.
>> Brook points out that Hamlet is really Shakespeare's plagiarism of a rival
>> blockbuster, probably by Thomas Kyd, playing near concurrently just
>> downriver from the Globe. He's reconstructing the play more or less from
>> memory, and being Shakespeare, his imagination reaches a good bit beyond
>> his powers of recall. This results in the notorious contradictions of fact
>> in the play (Horatio is and is not a foreigner; the play within a play is
>> both two and four months after the wedding, etc) but also in a very
>> striking heterogeneity in the writing (the tedious and cruel jokes at
>> Polonius's expense, the filthy banter of Hamlet with Rosencrantz and
>> Guildenstern,alongside the breathtaking poetry of Horatio describing dawn
>> over the ramparts of Elsinore).
>> So Brook is trying to entirely eliminate the earlier play, by Kyd, from
>> Hamlet and produce only the work of Shakespeare, the poet, This isn't
>> entirely a matter of taste: Kyd was a sensationalist, and Shakespeare's
>> violent reaction against Kyd's gratuitous violence is what produces this
>> dialogic, anti-melodramatic drama.
>> David Kellogg
>> On Sun, Apr 19, 2015 at 5:12 AM, HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>  David,
>>> Nice! I was totally struck by the hugs between father and son in the
>>> Brook
>>> version. A bit later Hamlet might have been thinking of those hugs when
>>> he
>>> said: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,than are dreamt
>>> of in your philosophy.” And, the Brook version is so much warmer. Hamlet
>>> a
>>> person of color, in color. Agency and culture. Something worth dying for.
>>> Love. These two clips were great!
>>> Henry
>>>  On Apr 17, 2015, at 3:49 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
>>>> wrote:
>>>> In "Psychology of Art" Vygotsky apprehends the so-called "Hamlet"
>>>> enigma:
>>>> why doesn't Hamlet just go and do it? Why all the dilly-dallying, the
>>>> shilly-shallying, the hesitation and tergiversation? Vygotsky concludes
>>>> that the "Hamlet enigma" is really a curtain painted over the whole
>>>> painting. That is, the play is, itself, a study of how volition is and
>>>> is
>>>> not created.
>>>> It is, as Vygotsky later says, the key question in the whole of
>>>> psychology--the question of how we make decisions and then these
>>>> self-given decisions and not the God-given environment become the nature
>>> to
>>>> which the human animal must adapt.
>>>> Consdier this 1964 Soviet version of Act 1 Scene 5--in Russian!--by
>>> Gregory
>>>> Kozintsev:
>>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vp5Rz0LqUSM
>>>> The film score was written by Shostakovich. But there is no music in
>>>> this
>>>> clip--just the music of speech.
>>>> Compare this version--by Peter Brook.
>>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT5rLk40fnM
>>>> Kozintsev cuts precisely the line that Brook considers the most
>>>> important
>>>> line in all of Shakespeare. The Ghost says:
>>>> "Taint not thy mind!" (10:52 on the Brook clip)
>>>> Meaning, you must somehow carry out this murder, without destroying your
>>>> own soul--you must avenge me, but not vengefully--you must kill out of
>>> love
>>>> for your mother and for your motherland.
>>>> I think that BOTH Kozintsev and Brook consider this line a complete
>>>> contradiction. This line is why Hamlet hesitates and why he cannot seem
>>> to
>>>> perform the murder for four long hours, and when he does kill the king
>>>> it
>>>> has almost nothing to do with vengeance (it is only when he has seen the
>>>> king murder his own mother and when he knows that he too is dying
>>> anyway).
>>>> Kozintsev cuts the line and makes the play into self-directed
>>>> narrative, the source of Bruner's "ego". But Brook keeps the line, and
>>> as a
>>>> result the play becomes more Shakespearean, more dialogic, and much
>>> closer
>>>> to the source of the ego, the interpersonality.
>>>> David Kellogg