Re: [xmca] LCA-- transparency

From: Wolff-Michael Roth (
Date: Mon Jul 04 2005 - 13:15:16 PDT

> My observations of the blind have been a bit different than the one
> Bateson recounts (which doesn't at all contradict what he recounts) -
> at one point I spent some time at a school for the blind outside
> Nashville, Tennessee. Many of the young people I observed swung their
> cane to and fro in front of them (and in some particular situations
> they let it drag to the side). They didn't seem to be looking for
> confirming evidence (and they may, for the observant person sharing
> their space, have been simultaneously been socially clearing the way
> in front of

But Ed, do you look for confirming evidence when you walk? Do look
prior to setting your foot down, then confirm that it's gonna be okay.
. .

> them) but for disconfirming evidence - that is, when the cane
> exhibited stick-like properties. Opaqueness (as in a sheet of paper),
> so to speak, was crucial and they seemed to be attempting to maximize
> this with the cane. However, at the same time they needed to use
> something that could act as an extension of themselves (a heavy iron
> bar or a feather would not be ideal). Hence, it seems to me, it is the
> doing (might one say the 'thoroughly internalized' here?) that was
> mediated that is/was at stake and, in many instance, the 'ideal' tool
> might be, in use, both appropriately 'opaque' and 'transparent' or,
> perhaps, in use have the appropriate potentials for being both
> 'concrete' and 'abstract.'

Okay, I think we need to talk about these things not in the ideal way,
not in the abstract, but analyze real concrete practical activity. In
this, I think that both of your conditions are already met in the
normal stick, it is both transparent--not thought about, not only
embodied in operations, but also embodying operations such as providing
a clearing before them--and material. It is only in their materiality
that the canes can be used for what they are used in practical
activity, that they have an effect, that they realize motives and

I think that a lot of our theoretical problems disappear when we
approach the issue dialectically, beginning with an analysis of
activity, not onsidedly with an analysis of tools or transparency or .
. . We then end up capturing both the material and ideal aspects of the
CANE IN ACTIVITY. Outside real practical activity, the cane is nothing,
like any sign or word is nothing outside real concrete activity.


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