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[Xmca-l] Re: The Ideological Footprint of Artifacts



Henry, Mike:

The word "ideology" casts a very long shadow! I think that Saussure's
notion of "l'arbitraire" is better understood in English as the
"conventional". In Korean, by the way, it has the idea of "volitional",
that is, something under human control. So the patterns of meaning that we
find (e.g. the relationship between "ideal" and "ideology") are
conventional; they are under human control by means of conventions and
institutions, but they are not random in any sense (as Vygotsky says, you
can't call a pigeon a "blackbird" without doing serious violence to the
meaning of the word "black").

So, to uptake Mike's dictionary definition, the meaning of "ideology" has
come to mean socio-political assumptions or world view of a disagreeable
nature. This ideological shadow is certainly conventional, and it is
certainly not arbitrary--it has been carefully engineered by generations of
cold warriors and has now been taken over by a party which conventionally
calls itself "democratic", to hurl at a party which calls itself, quite
randomly, "republican". But to me the word "ideology" only means what it
meant to Volosinov: it is the study of ideas, and the study of the ideal in
material life, i.e. of signs and their effects on social and psychological
life.

When we teach Korean children "science", we begin with a field of study
called "wise life". This then becomes differentiated into "natural science"
on the one hand "social studies" on the other. Only in middle school will
the children differentiate natural science into chemistry, physics, and
biology (and social studies will be differentiated into social studies
proper and ethics). These distinctions are, of course, as thoroughly
conventional as the distinction between sociology and psychology, or the
distinction between vocabulary and grammar.

Imagine, instead of "wise life" or "natural science" or even science, we
had evolved something called "matter-ology", a field which studies matter
in all of its forms: physical, biological, socio-cultural, and semiotic.
Within "matterology", we might distinguish a science of matter that in some
way indicates, suggests, represents or "stands for" other matter (other
phenomena), or other matters (megaphenomena) or other matters of fact
(metaphenomena). That's semiology, or as Volosinov would say, "ideology".

David Kellogg

On Fri, Jun 5, 2015 at 9:46 AM, HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com> wrote:

>
> This is late in the game, so forgive me, but:
>
> Appropos David re: Saussure, my understanding is that sometime towards the
> end of the 19th Century linguistics shifted its focus from the diachronic
> (historical, longitudinal) to the synchronic (in a single point of time)
> study of language. Apparently actual violence during meettings of linguists
> over such things as an original language resulted in making historical
> linguistics a taboo subject. Hence, Saussure’s sin, as David describes it:
>
> >> "Saussure, who did more than anyone to make the insights of the
> Symbolists
> >> into a coherent world view, said that thought and language, both
> chaotic,
> >> organize each other through decomposing each other, and of course that's
> >> correct. Saussure's big mistake was to turn his back on the process by
> >> which this happens. And the strangest thing about this mistake is that
> it
> >> was the very process in which he'd made his own career--historical
> linguistics!”
>
> He threw the baby out with the bath water. Chomsky topped that by making a
> single language a sufficient basis for getting at what makes language tick
> and keep on ticking. (He could have included Hebrew in his writing, which
> he knew a lot about through his father.) Leaving out BOTH forms of
> variation, diachronic and synchronic, leaves out a lot, if you’re trying to
> understand development of language, either ontogentically or
> phylogenetically.
>
> Regarding what a symbol is, Saussure seems to have pushed l’arbitraire du
> signe to its limit, that is the assumed arbitrary relationship between the
> phonological (sound) and semantic (meaning) “poles” of symbols. (I take it
> that any symbol is the unit formed by the pairing of a phonological and
> sematic element. If I read Vygotsky right, he used “WORD” to capture this
> pairing. Let me be clear that by the phonological, I mean strings of
> language sounds from the shortest to longest: phoneme, morpheme, clause,
> poem, etc.) Langacker is one of many who use the umbrella term “iconicity”
> to capture the ways in which the material form of a language, its
> "structure in sound" so to speak, is anything BUT arbitrary.
>
> From Wikipedia:
> "In functional-cognitive linguistics, as well as in semiotics, iconicity
> is the conceived similarity or analogy between the form of a sign
> (linguistic or otherwise) and its meaning, as opposed to arbitrariness.”
>
> From this definition, iconicity is anything about the form of language
> that is not arbitrary. This would include onomatopeia, but would also
> include a looser sound symbolism, deixis or pointing, and what the
> prototypical sign (sound) where there is no obvious connection between
> sound and meaning, but where the choices made by a language community in
> how they express themselves are influenced by factors internal to the
> language and culture (e.g., the great vowel shift in the history of
> English) AND language/culture contact (witness the massive borrowing into
> English from other languages and the influence of English on other
> languages).
>
> Henry
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> > On Jun 2, 2015, at 4:02 PM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
> >
> > David- I do not have Jan's book, so cannot judge your comments overall,
> but
> > Zinchenko was almost certainly referring to Leontiev, not Vygotsky, in
> > referring to the theory of activity and repeating the oft-repeated charge
> > of "sign-o-centricism" versus "behaviorism" leveled against him, large by
> > the followers of Rubenshtein.
> >
> > mike
> >
> > PS- Perhaps Jan can find a moment to comment.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > On Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 2:20 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >
> >> Dear Larry:
> >>
> >> So Zinchenko says that if I go on a journey through the desert and
> choose
> >> to take a map instead of  an ice-axe I am being an idealist!
> >>
> >> Of course, I know that by choosing an ice-axe, I am confusing the error
> of
> >> taking a tool instead of a symbol with taking the WRONG tool instead of
> the
> >> RIGHT symbol. But I also think that by choosing an ice-axe I am drawing
> >> some attention to the underlying dishonesty--the demagogy--of a lot of
> the
> >> criticisms made of Vygotsky--how they are reducible to name-calling
> >> ("Idealist!" "Subjectivist!" "Word-Fetishist!")
> >>
> >> I suppose the real problem with Zinchenko is the one that Andy's already
> >> pointed to. What makes humans human is that they don't live in an
> >> "environment" that is oblivious to them to which they must adapt or die.
> >> They have the ability to make the environment adapt to them and
> sometimes
> >> even die--as I am reminded by the potted plant withering on my window
> >> sill. Our nature is really not the same as the nature that animals live
> in.
> >>
> >> It's quite literally a "human' nature; a society is nature humanized
> >> by consciousness. Beyond the ficus dying on my window sill lies Seoul,
> the
> >> second largest city on earth. When I go out and do my grocery shopping,
> I
> >> don't take a tool or even a map; I take a mind full of symbols, and the
> >> same thing is true when I go out to "earn" my daily bread. So, as Andy
> >> says, the "environment" has to include an element of human
> consciousness,
> >> of my consciousness and the consciousness I must share with seventy-five
> >> million other Koreans every time I use a Korean word. If this be
> idealism,
> >> make the most of it!
> >>
> >> There was a good review of my book in the journal "System" recently
> >> (attached). When I got over the warm feeling brought about by
> >> the (apparently heartfelt) praise, I felt slightly irked by the attempt
> to
> >> link Vygotsky's reading of Hamlet with that of Florensky, who really
> WAS an
> >> idealist. Florensky's "Hamlet" came out when Vygotsky was nine years
> old!
> >> But of course the author is right--Florensky, later a priest, a Russian
> >> Orthodox theologian, and ultimately a victim of Stalin's goons, was one
> of
> >> the founders of the Symbolist movement, and Vygotsky could not help but
> >> have felt his long cool shadow as he wrestled with the question of
> whether
> >> Hamlet is a psycho-drama (and all the characters but Hamlet are only
> >> symbols) or a socio-drama (and all the characters--with the exception of
> >> the players--are flesh and blood).
> >>
> >> Saussure, who did more than anyone to make the insights of the
> Symbolists
> >> into a coherent world view, said that thought and language, both
> chaotic,
> >> organize each other through decomposing each other, and of course that's
> >> correct. Saussure's big mistake was to turn his back on the process by
> >> which this happens. And the strangest thing about this mistake is that
> it
> >> was the very process in which he'd made his own career--historical
> >> linguistics!
> >>
> >> David Kellogg
> >>
> >> On Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 10:21 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >>
> >>> David,
> >>> A fascinating way to explore the long shadow that concepts entail back
> to
> >>> the sensory "ground" of concepts.
> >>>
> >>> I would like to ask how you situate a third term "symbol" in its
> >>> relationship to the "sensory sound" and the "conceptual"
> >>>
> >>> Zinchenko offers one approach to symbols [to prime the pumps of this
> >>> question]
> >>>
> >>> "The psychological theory of activity was concerned with the problem of
> >>> real [i.e. concrete] tools and objects that humans, also in accordance
> >> with
> >>> Marxism, place between themselves and nature.  In other words, what
> >> makes a
> >>> human human? Symbol or thing? The crucifix or the hammer and sickle? If
> >> it
> >>> is the symbol then this is idealism. If it is the thing then this is
> >>> materialism or perhaps dialectical materialism"
> >>>
> >>> "Reading" this question  through your response above I wonder if the
> >> answer
> >>> is unfinalizable and may depend on the "reciprocal" interpenetration of
> >> the
> >>> symbolic and sensory.  I am assuming the symbolic as "figurative" and
> >>> "con/figurative" phenomena that expresses co-existence.
> >>>
> >>> I am Reading Jan Derry's 2013 book "Vygotsky: Philosophy and Education"
> >> and
> >>> Zinchenko's quote is on page 14.
> >>>
> >>> Larry
> >>>
> >>> On Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 5:38 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> >>> wrote:
> >>>
> >>>> The other day I was listening to Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette". It's
> the
> >>>> wedding night, and they got to bed. Because they have no alarm clock,
> >>> they
> >>>> must listen carefully for the sound of the lark, else Romeo will be
> >>>> captured by the guards of Verona and hanged.
> >>>>
> >>>> Romeo is sleeping with one ear open, and he is the first to awake.
> >> Romeo
> >>>> hears a bird and tells Juliette, and Juliette replies:
> >>>>
> >>>> Non, ce n'est pas le jour.
> >>>> Ce n'est pas l'allouette.
> >>>> Dont le chant a frappe
> >>>> Ton orielle inquiete
> >>>>
> >>>> (No, it is not the day
> >>>> That is not the lark
> >>>> Whose song has struck
> >>>> Your sleepless ear)
> >>>>
> >>>> But of course the song persists. Juliette reassures him:
> >>>>
> >>>> C'est le doux rossignol
> >>>> Confidant d'amour!
> >>>>
> >>>> (It's the sweet nightengale
> >>>> The confidant of love!)
> >>>>
> >>>> And Romeo decides, for probably just for the sake of being able to
> >>> reverse
> >>>> roles and sing the song himself, that he will go along with Juliette's
> >>> idea
> >>>> and go back to sleep. So then Juliette hears the sound and realizes
> >> that
> >>>> you must leave, helas! And Romeo sings, "Non, ce n'est pas le
> jour...."
> >>>>
> >>>> All of which reminded me of the crucial fact that in the sixteenth
> >>> century
> >>>> they did not yet have alarm clocks. But when you hear the woodwinds
> >> come
> >>> in
> >>>> precisely at 1:47:35, what you hear, if you are a modern listener, is
> >> an
> >>>> electric alarm clock.
> >>>>
> >>>> Now of course, in Gounod's time they no more had electric alarm clocks
> >>> than
> >>>> in Shakespeare's. But such is the ideological footprint of artifacts;
> >>> they
> >>>> heard the sound of the woodwinds as that of a nightengale, and we hear
> >> it
> >>>> as battery powered alarm clock.  Or is it the other way around, and
> the
> >>>> alarm is designed  to mimick a lark?
> >>>>
> >>>> Last night we were working on ways of teaching vocabulary which are
> >>>> GENERALIZABLE. It is of course the case, as Vygotsky points out, that
> >>>> MEANINGS can be related easily to each other, in one way
> >> (hierarchically)
> >>>> when we teach scientific concepts and in another (sensually,
> >>>> experientially) when we are not. It's also true that the WORDINGS are
> >>>> related easily toe ach other, as nouns and verbs, as participants and
> >>>> processes, and as circumstances. But what kids want are to be able to
> >>> match
> >>>> the soundings and the imagery. In most languages this seems arbitrary
> >> and
> >>>> so vocabulary seems a piecemeal affair.
> >>>>
> >>>> It isn't. As Vygotsky points out, when you go back in time, you find
> >> that
> >>>> there are (at least) three kinds of associative links which must help
> >> the
> >>>> young vocabulary learner. We had the following list of Canadian
> animals
> >>> to
> >>>> teach brought in by a hakweon teacher from Canada:
> >>>>
> >>>> moose, goose, badger, beaver, eagle, porcupine
> >>>>
> >>>> With "moose" and "goose' the link is sounding--try bellowing the first
> >>> like
> >>>> a moose, and hooting the second like a goose. With "badger" and
> >> "beaver"
> >>>> the link is wording--badgers badger grubs and bother birds, while
> >> beavers
> >>>> are always beavering around with dams and nests. Eagle somehow
> >>> alliterates
> >>>> with "eye" and "spy", and "porcupine" suggests a piney, spiney,
> >>>> pineapple-pig.
> >>>>
> >>>> Of course, none of these are concepts. All are forms of complex. But
> >> all
> >>> of
> >>>> them are the ideological footprint, the long shadow, cast by an
> >> artefact
> >>>> down through history.
> >>>>
> >>>> If you want to hear the lark, you will have to wait to the end of the
> >>>> opera, where it takes on another meaning. As everybody knows, Romeo
> >> dies
> >>>> before Juliet awakes. But in Gounod's version, he drinks the poison,
> >> she
> >>>> awakes, and they are once again joyful in each other's arms, until he
> >>>> remembers the poison (a minor detail!) and dies singing...you guessed
> >>>> it...2:31:00.
> >>>>
> >>>> "No, it is not the day
> >>>> That is not the lark...
> >>>> It's the sweet nightengale
> >>>> The confidant of love!"
> >>>>
> >>>> Of course it's absurd (although not quite as absurd as the moment that
> >>> poor
> >>>> Rolando Villazon has to wipe the sweat off the end of his nose before
> >> he
> >>>> kisses Nina Machaidze). But it's also somewhat terrifying, as a raw
> >>>> demonstrating of the ideological footprint of artworks. A single sound
> >>> has
> >>>> the power to be a bird in one century, a piccolo in another, and a
> >>> digital
> >>>> alarm clock in our own. Artifacts cast a long shadow, even at night.
> >>>>
> >>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmNULK87lK0
> >>>>
> >>>> David Kellogg
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> >
> > All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes
> > you see something you weren't noticing which makes you see something
> > that isn't even visible. N. McLean, *A River Runs Through it*
>
>