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[Xmca-l] Re: The Heart of Romantic Science


I think that verbal art differs from verbal science most in this: in verbal
science, we tend to see the concrete instance as a product of general laws,
but in verbal art we tend to see the general law as made up of concrete
instances. So for example Langston Hughes' poem gives us the general
mumbling in the dark and the veiled stars, but then lists concrete
instances: the poor white pushed away from the fellowship of labor by his
or her own prejudice, the black scarred to the very semantic system of his
or her speech by slavery, the red man pushed off the red land because iron
has been discovered, etc. We know how to find general laws from a multitude
of data points in verbal science, but selecting the best instance from a
generality is a matter of freehanding verbal art.

I am not very good at it, which is why I have to rely on a master like
Langston Hughes. But I will try. When I was in my early twenties, I quit my
job teaching English at a cancer hospital in Beijing and travelled,
illegally, to Tibet (there were only a handful of cities open to foreigners
at that time). Arriving in Lhasa by a truck in the middle of the night, I
had to stumble around the streets until the sun rose. I slept in a large
cement drainpipe that was being installed to try to do away with the open
sewers. The next day I went around trying to find a cheap hotel that didn't
know about the rules against foreigners. Nothing was open except a cinema
and for some reason they were showing a Charlie Chaplin movie in the main
theatre.  It was City Lights: the Tramp meets a blind flower girl, is
mistaken by her for a millionaire passing by, he saves the millionaire from
suicide and then uses the millionaire's car and money to buy all the
flowers and drive the girl home.Now, the dwelling that the girl shared with
her grandmother wasn't just cozy--it was a really materially more
comfortable than all the cheap hotels I'd looked at, better than ninety
percent of the dwellings in Lhasa. There was water, for example, and a
toilet inside instead of just a hole that emptied on the street, and there
was a fire instead of just a heap of quilts and scratchy sheep skins to
keep warm when you went to bed. And yet--we all knew that this girl was
poor, and so was the tramp--he was only pretending to be rich. No one felt
that the girl and the tramp were really rich, or that they were passing
through poverty--they were poor and they were going to stay poor, even when
the girl gets her eyesight back, opens a flower shop, and meets her secret
benefactor and admirer in the last scene (with them both pinching a coin).

Contrary to what Coleridge says, poverty is a stable culture; as Chaplin
shows us, it can even be a very rich one. It isn't the kind of transient
state that Coleridge envisions, like pregnancy. It's more like the age
periods that Vygotsky envisions--a relationship between you and your
environment. It's the relationship between the tramp and the millionaire
that gives us the poverty of the tramp. That--and only that--explains the
relationship between Bernstein's restricted and elaborated codes: we all
have the restricted one, because that's the everyday code we use in the
living of life. But in addition, there exists this highly valued code,
which precisely because it is highly valued is denied to the poor. It
doesn't do any good to celebrate the undoubted richness of the restricted
code if your very eyesight and health depends on getting your hands on the
elaborated one.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

Recent Article: Vygotsky, Halliday, and Hasan: Towards Conceptual

Free E-print Downloadable at:


On Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 2:35 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> David,
> Fascinating to follow your trajectory when I lack the background to notice
> particular sign posts of where you are leading.
> However, I followed one of your links posted that links us to the
> “Polyphonic Autobiography”
> Here was the opening expression to chapter 2 of this polyphonic
> autobiography:
> Chapter 2: Confronting the Challenge of Bringing Cross Cultural Research
> Home
> “Poverty, whatever can justify the designation of ‘the poor,’ ought to be
> a transitional state to which no man ought to admit himself to belong, tho’
> he may find himself in it because he is passing thro’ it, in the effort to
> leave it. Poor men we must always have, till the redemption is fulfilled,
> but The Poor, as consisting of the same Individuals! O this is a sore
> accusation against society.”
> David, you are weaving a narrative that distinguishes “poor men” from “THE
> poor” [THE poor consisting of the SAME -the identical – individuals].
> I sense when engaging with your responses I have to stay in the “margins”
> of your compositions [searching for numbered notes to clarify]
> A wonderful place to be but recognizing my finitude within historical
> *consciousness*
> Sent from Mail for Windows 10
> From: David Kellogg
> Sent: August 16, 2017 6:13 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Heart of Romantic Science
> One of the songs Cook's men must have sung here in Australia is “Heart of
> Oak” (the hard center of the oak tree that keels were made of). In 1760, it
> was part of an opera penned by the Shakespearean actor David Garrick (yes,
> that David Garrick--pupil of Samuel Johnson, friend of William Hogarth).
> The "wonderful year" it refers to was 1759--the battle for Quebec.
> It is still sung as a kind of unofficial anthem in the Australian navy--you
> sometimes hear it on Lady Beach, which is a nude beach much favoured by gay
> people and sailors here in Sydney. You can see why--the first verse goes
> like this:
> Come, cheer up, my lads, 'tis to glory we steer,
> To add something more to this wonderful year;
> To honour we call you, as freemen not slaves,
> For who are so free as the sons of the waves?
> But it must have been sung with a more bitter shade of irony back in the
> day. A lot of Cook’s sailors had been press-ganged, and in fact even when
> Cook turned down an appointment as master to serve before the mast, his
> destitute father was given a pension by the lord of the manor, and there is
> some suspicion that his enlistment, which probably deterred the press gangs
> from the lord's estate, might have had something to do with it.
> Ruqaiya Hasan writes a lot about how bourgeois educational systems have
> tried and failed to inculcate “glibspeak”, a faux-scientific register which
> uses the abstract nominalizations of scientific language in order to blur
> and obscure concrete realities. Here are two of her best hits on the
> subject.
> Hasan, R. (2003). Globalization, literacy, and ideology. World Englishes 22
> (4) 433-448.
> Hasan, R. (2006). Literacy, pedagogy, and social change: directions from
> Bernstein’s sociology. In Knowledge, Power, and Education Reform: Applying
> the sociology of Basil Bernstein. R. Moore, M. Artnot, J. Beck, and H.
> Daniels (eds). 211-241.  London: Routledge.
> Empirically, though, her most important work was the ten year survey she
> did here in Australia that showed a recognizable difference in the way that
> parents talked to  preschoolers in working class families and the way that
> parents talked to preschoolers in middle class ones—and a recognizable
> similarity between the latter and the way that teachers talk to kids in
> school. As Mike has pointed out, the “Polyphonic Autobiography” includes a
> good account of the debate between Labov and Bernstein on this issue, but
> for me it is essentially an empirical and not a political question, and
> these studies settles it:
> Hasan, R. (1991).  Questions as a mode of learning in everyday talk.
> Language
> Education, Interaction and Developm,ent: Proceedings of the International
> Conference (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam).
> Hasan, R. (2002).  Semiotic mediation and mental development in pluralistic
> societies: Some implications for tomorrow’s schooling. In Wells and Claxton
> (eds). Learning for Life in the 21st Century, Blackwell: London.
> Probably the best place to get this stuff is in her Collected Works:
> Hasan, R. (2005). Language, Society, and Consciousness. London: Equinox.
> (This contains her critical readings of Vygotsky.)
> Hasan, R. (2009). Semantic Variation. London: Equinox. (These are where you
> find the empirical studies.)
> Hasan, R. (2011). Language and Education. London: Equinox. (These are the
> socio-political works.)
> There was also a good study by Marilyn Fleer and Mariane Hedegaard in MCA
> back in 2010—we discussed it here:
> http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10749030903222760
> But when I suggested that Marilyn’s and Mariane’s results were consistent
> with Bernstein’s view of how some codes restrict working class children to
> operating machinery and other codes are more consistent with criticizing or
> reinforcing social structures, the suggestion was rejected for reasons I
> have never really understood. Perhaps it has to do with the Labov/Bernstein
> debate that the Polyphonic Autobiography of LCHC serves to
> sociohistorically contextualize so well:
> http://lchcautobio.ucsd.edu/polyphonic-autobiography/section-1/chapter-2/
> The Polyphonic Autobiography makes it clear that in the context of the “War
> on Poverty” and the beginnings of the cultural wars, it was easy to miss
> the point that Ruqaiya Hasan and Basil Bernstein were making. There’s a
> difference between being able to express a complex idea in complex
> DISCOURSE (as a child does when arguing with a parent) and being able to
> express it in complex GRAMMAR, just as there is a difference between being
> able to express a complex idea in complex grammar (as an older child does
> in telling a story) and being able to express it in complex vocabulary (as
> we see at university). Because human life and leisure are both finite,
> there is a real difference in the meaning potential of these different
> modes of expression.
> Yes, the POTENTIAL meaning potential of all human languages is equal—that
> is, all human languages will EVENTUALLY be able to express the whole of the
> relevant experience of their speakers, and since humans are equal,
> languages are equal in that sense. But no, the ACTUAL meaning potential of
> languages is not equal, because the semiotic orientation of language
> changes—sociohistorically as well as ontogenetically—and for that reason
> that meaning-potential-potential equality lies in the future, not the
> present.
> Langston Hughes makes the same point, in language that seems particularly
> relevant these days:
> Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
> And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
> I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
> I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
> I am the red man driven from the land,
> I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
> And finding only the same old stupid plan
> Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak. (…)
> O, let America be America again—
> The land that never has been yet—
> And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
> David Kellogg
> Macquarie University
> Recent Article: Vygotsky, Halliday, and Hasan: Towards Conceptual
> Complementarity
> Free E-print Downloadable at:
> http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/W7EDsmNSEwnpIKFRG8Up/full
> On Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 10:42 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > David,
> > Very powerful particular example of how Cook used a combination of rigor
> > and freehanding :: the heart of a romantic science.
> >
> > Leading to ...
> >
> > semantic code orientation--the psychological orientation [the
> > psychological orientation *being* the semantic code orientation]  of the
> > speaker towards her or his context of situation, and beyond that, towards
> > his or her context of culture.
> > Offering us this *key*
> >
> >
> > Sent from Mail for Windows 10
> >
> > From: Alfredo Jornet Gil
> > Sent: August 16, 2017 4:18 AM
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Heart of Romantic Science
> >
> > Really interesting, David. I wonder what romantic science looks like for
> > us who drew our way to Quebec using Google Flights. I am afraid one might
> > find that there is neither rigour nor freehand in the google operation...
> > which may have quite worrying implications if one considers digital
> > technology at the service of capitalism.
> >
> > I was very interested in Hasan's remarks on psychological orientation;
> > would you direct us to a particular text or fragment to get more of that?
> > Thanks,
> > Alfredo
> >
> > ________________________________________
> > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> > on behalf of David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> > Sent: 16 August 2017 00:48
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: [Xmca-l]  The Heart of Romantic Science
> >
> > In Melbourne, here in Australia, there is a stone cottage in the gardens
> of
> > the treasury where the first huge gold deposits were winkled from the
> > miners (by way of licencing fees) and kept. It's a very small
> cottage--just
> > a sitting room and a bedroom on top of each other, like a two-storey,
> > two-room flat in a modern housing project, except that there is a stable
> > attached where animals lived cheek by jowl with human neighbors. It is
> not
> > a replica--it's the exact house where Captain James Cook lived as little
> > boy, bought up by the city of Melbourne for reasons better understood by
> > Australians, and transported, stone by stone, from rural Yorkshire in
> > England, about a century and a half after the man himself had set foot on
> > Australia.
> >
> > Cook was a man a bit above his class (not much, because the glass ceiling
> > for the son of an agricultural laborer was thick and low) and a bit ahead
> > of his timet: his ideas about anthropology were an unstable emulsion of
> > Rousseau and rationalism, and his erratic behavior to the more realist
> > Hawaiians eventually cost him his life. But there were two ways in which
> he
> > far outstripped his age, and perhaps they are both worth thinking about
> as
> > we go to Quebec City for ISCAR, because that was where his breakthrough
> to
> > romantic science really occurred.
> >
> > It was on the banks of the Saint Lawrence, during the "Guerre de Sept
> Ans"
> > (the French and Indian War, for Americans), that Cook learned to use a
> > plane table: to take two known distances with exact precision, and
> compute,
> > using the angle between them and a bit of basic trig, the third segment
> of
> > the triangle. He then freehanded the third segment and obtained a map of
> > the approaches to Quebec City. Unlike rigorously surveyed maps and unlike
> > purely freehanded maps, this one could be made as rigorous or as free as
> > you liked, and that's what made it possible for Cook to jiffy-chart the
> > "traversee" leading to Quebec City and to jerry-rig, overnight, a system
> of
> > moored lifeboats to show the way for British man o' wars.
> >
> > This is actually quite similar to what we do in a lot of romantic
> science,
> > including in text analysis. Say, for example, you want to understand how
> > capitalism has, in our time, managed to produce an education system that
> > enables working class navy men like Cook to operate a gun and even a
> plane
> > table but somehow disables comprehension of the Communist Manifesto.
> Using
> > a system-network, you can show the exact choices made by the author of
> the
> > operating manual and the authors of the manifesto to any degree of
> delicacy
> > you choose (clause type, indicative type, declarative type, process type,
> > etc.) and derive the semantics and then the context from that. You can
> also
> > "freehand" it by working backwards, from the context to the semantics to
> > the lexicogrammar.
> >
> > It seems to me that it's THIS  combination of rigor and freehanding, of
> > verbal science and verbal art, that is the real heart of a romantic
> > science, not some unsteady amalgam of Rousseau and rationalism. And when
> we
> > bring this resource to bear upon our two texts, we find what Ruqaiya
> Hasan
> > found: the difference between the operating manual and the manifesto lies
> > not so much with the lexico-grammar as with what Bernstein called the
> > semantic code orientation--the psychological orientation of the speaker
> > towards her or his context of situation, and beyond that, towards his or
> > her context of culture.
> >
> > David Kellogg
> > Macquarie University
> >
> > Recent Article: Vygotsky, Halliday, and Hasan: Towards Conceptual
> > Complementarity
> >
> > Free E-print Downloadable at:
> >
> > http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/W7EDsmNSEwnpIKFRG8Up/full
> >
> >