Re: [xmca] LCA-- transparency

From: Phil Chappell (
Date: Mon Jul 04 2005 - 05:47:55 PDT

Michael and all,

An example just to hand - I cook rice in a rice cooker almost very day.
This evening I just decided to cook brown rice rather than white (just
got the cooker going and found the need to write this). This requires
more water in the cooker. I have grown up to know that the water level
should reach to about the first skin-line of the index finger knuckle.
But that's for white rice (depending on its age). Brown rice needs more
water to cook in to make it palatable. There is no convention for
cooking brown rice, as it is a relatively new phenomena in Thailand. I
just poked my index finger in as usual, but was consciously (thanks to
this discussion) reflecting on what I was doing - I was projecting the
fluffiness and softness of the brown rice, as the complication was that
I was not performing my usual operation with white rice - which
involves pouring off the water until it reaches the skin line on my
index finger - rather like Leont'ev's example of driving a car without
any complications.

Now, what does this have to offer in our discussion of AT and language?
Ana's suggestion of opaqueness is definitely applicable - I was just
wondering if considering "signing" might add to the mix? But we also
have a rather lengthy and extensive paper by Ruqaiya to attend


On 03/07/2005, at 9:10 PM, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:

> Hi Mike and all,
> I am re-reading Leont'ev, and he says some interesting things about
> those examples we were tossing around--I had completely forgotten
> about all of this. He writes about the physician probing for a bullet
> in the body of the patient:
> p. 37:
> the end of the probe with which he
> touches the bullet appears to be “sensitive” - that is, his sensing
> seems to be
> paradoxically mixed in with the world of external things and not
> localized at
> the boundary “probe-hand” but at the boundary “probe-perceived object”
> (the bullet). The same thing happens in any other analogical
> situation, for
> instance, when we perceive the roughness of the paper with the tip of a
> sharp pen, find a road in the dark with the help of a cane, etc.
> So the sensing happens at the end of the probe, just as the blind
> person senses the street with the end of the cane (see also Bateson,
> my comments about sensing the road with the end of the wheel)--If it
> appears as if the boundary between myself and the object is at the end
> of the probe, cane, tire, then these stand in the same relationship to
> me as my finger that moves about to touch and sense the roughness of
> the paper, road, bullet, etc.
> The upshot is this: We call the hand a mediating tool; or, in expert
> use, some tools are extensions of ourselves that do not (in
> consciousness) mediate what we do. But this is a dualistic
> description--the hand both mediates and is part of the subject, just
> as psychic reality is part of the subject and mediating its activity
> (Leont'ev).
> Michael
> On 2-Jul-05, at 10:45 AM, Mike Cole wrote:
>> If the journal is online, I will read with interest and if it is not,
>> might you provide a pdf,
>> Michael?
>> I was starting from the cane and hammer examples, for which the
>> glasses metaphor does
>> not work well, at least for me.
>> When the blind man picks up the cane, it is not transparent and the
>> mind, in Bateson's rendering of the
>> discussion, stops at the fingers and palm of the hand. But with
>> habitual use, the "mind" or the "mind's eye"
>> moves to the end of the stick, to the sidewalk at its tip, and then
>> even further outward when walking on a
>> habitual path.... I can find an electronic version of the example if
>> it is not familiar. I would need to go to
>> the library to get Heiddeger.
>> What is it that makes the stick, as it were, become transparent, or
>> the handle of the hammer? Or, in the
>> case of the spike, that it is "seen through" to its source?
>> mike
>> On 7/2/05, Wolff-Michael Roth <> wrote:
>>> I used the word "transparent" in analogy to glasses that I wear and
>>> that I do not notice. That is, in my practice, it is as if I was not
>>> wearing these glasses, I am looking right through, they are
>>> transparent. In the article where I develop this argument, I provide
>>> an
>>> example of a water technician who points to a spike on the graph and
>>> says, "This is a clogged pipe". Of course, what she is pointing to is
>>> not a clogged pipe, but an index pointing to the clogged pipe. In her
>>> practice, therefore, she looks right through the spike and sees the
>>> world, as if it was a pair of glasses allowing her to see the world.
>>> I compare this to the infamous painting "This is not a pipe" by Rene
>>> Magritte, and the analysis Foucault provided of it in "This is not a
>>> pipe". ([drawing of a pipe for smoking] captioned "Ceci n'est pas une
>>> pipe")
>>> I also describe how the signs become transparent, after being the
>>> object of inquiry initially, then become tools for analysis, and then
>>> disappear, seemingly. I use triangle notations to show the movement
>>> of
>>> the graphs (signs) in the process.
>>> Roth, W.-M. (2003). Competent workplace mathematics: How signs become
>>> transparent in use. International
>>> Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning, 8(3), 161–189.
>>> By the way, I started out trying to make a case for Ricardo
>>> Nemirovsky's concept of fusion, but didn't get anywhere . . .
>>> Michael
>>> On 2-Jul-05, at 10:27 AM, Mike Cole wrote:
>>> > An extra long wait on the tarmac in New York heading home gave me
>>> > plenty of time to read the interesting articles
>>> >  by Wells, Halliday, and Hasan in preparation for participating in
>>> the
>>> > discussion. But first I have started to read sequentially
>>> >  through the messages and want to pick up on some earlier points.
>>> >
>>> >  A comnment from wolf-michael in the signs and tools discussion
>>> > touches on an issue of great interest to me. Transparency.
>>> >  Here is the statement that set me off.
>>> >
>>> >  one more comment--if a tool such a cane or hammer is transparent
>>> in
>>> >  use, then it is similar to my tongue or my arm or my leg, it is
>>> part
>>> > of
>>> >  me and the world begins on the other end.
>>> >
>>> >  Question: what are the conditions that produce transparency? Is
>>> there
>>> > a consensual answer to this question?
>>> >  mike
>>> > _______________________________________________
>>> > xmca mailing list
>>> >
>>> >
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