RE: [xmca] my new questions

From: Carrie Lobman <lobman who-is-at>
Date: Thu Feb 14 2008 - 17:55:45 PST

Hi David,

I am not sure if what I am about to say responds to all of what you
said here (which is very interesting), but here are my current
thoughts. I see all of what we do (including role-plays) as
performances--meaning we as human beings are creating them. Some
role-plays are extremely useful to us as individuals and to us as a
species. For example, I wouldn't want to have to figure out or create
how to cross the street every time I left the house. It would be
dangerous and not very efficient. My role as an experienced street
crosser is not problematic to me at all. I think thats true of many
of the roles we play in life and much of early childhood involves
learning to play those roles. I agree that it is developmentally very
useful. However, that doesn't make them any less performances to me
even though they have become less creative. In thinking about it I
see it as having a similar relationship as between the fantasy play
of early childhood and games with rules. Both involve imaginary
situations, but the kinds of rules have changed. I think one of the
big developmental problems is that we start MOSTLY doing the
role-playing kind of performing and not the creative kind of
performing and we apply it to parts of our lives where it is

I don't think performances have to "acknowledge" their fictionality
(although its useful once we grow up to be aware of ourselves as
performers. Children do less role-playing because they haven't
learned the roles yet. Adults often need help to re-learn how to play
in this way. I think I don't understand your question about it being
tied to physical actions. Can you clarify?


At 07:53 PM 2/13/2008, you wrote:
>Dear Carrie and Vesna (Hi, Mike!)
> I was very interested in everything you had to say about role
> playing and performance, and I really wish that Carrie had been
> there last night when a (relatively) famous literary critic Hazard
> Adams got up and said that there was no real difference between the
> fiction of an insurance agent (or for that matter a famous literary
> critic) and one of Browning's dramatic monologues (and he then
> proceeded to prove this untrue, by telling us "true" stories from
> his childhood).
> I don't know if you've been following the thread on
> neoformations, but this is definitely relevant. As I said over on
> that thread, LSV cites several "critical" ages with neoformations
> which apparently have a catalytic function, because they completely
> disappear. For example, babbling disappears with the crisis at age
> one, and negativism with the crisis at age three.
> With the crisis at seven we are never really told what the
> critical neoformation is, but we are told that the crisis involves
> "the loss of childish directness", and this appears to be exactly
> what Vesna is describing.
> There's this passage in Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children"
> where he's describing the magicians who work the bazaar in Kalkota.
> Being good communists, they are all dialectical materialists, and
> consequently do not believe in magic (but what can you do? It's
> been our family's profession for generations!"). So the magicians
> spend their days bending reality back and forth without ever
> forgetting what it "really" is.
> Of course this passage is compatible with several explanations,
> and the reader is invited to choose whichever she or he finds most
> improbable, but one suspects that Rushdie is NOT a materialist. We
> know, at the very least, that he is not a Bakhtinian, or if he is
> one he is a very ironic one, because he has himself appear in the
> role of God in the "Satanic Verses".
> I think the explanation I find most improbable, and therefore
> most compelling, is that there really is something developmentally
> useful about hypostatizing certain regularities of behavior as a
> concrete and fairly rigid role. I don't say that it is truthful. I
> say that it is developmentally useful.
> We know that words like "depth", "breadth", "height" and even
> "growth" refer to no actual object or even definite thing; they are
> actually adjectives that have been hypostatized as nouns.
> "Acceleration" is actually the hypostatization of a
> hypostatization. But without it Newtonian mechanics would be quite impossible.
> Similarly, we know that novels (with their overbearing narrators
> who insist on infiltrating every character's thoughts and actions)
> are hypostatizations, and not lives; the implied theory of
> experience behind a (monologic) novel says that a whole universe is
> in some way representable within a single consciousness (if not
> that of the hero then that of the author). But we also know that
> they make possible MORE dialogue and more actual intersubjectivity
> than even a very long and very drama. They make possible dialogic
> novels (like Dostoevsky's and Rushdie's).
> I'm not so sure what it means to say that performances have more
> childish directness than later role plays. Does it mean that
> performances somehow acknowledge their fictionality and role plays
> do not? That gesture is more "honest" than language? Most
> importantly, doesn't it mean that it's impossible for the child to
> create masks and imaginary friends that are independent of physical actions?
> It seems more developmental and even more magical for children to
> have fiction in a form that allows them to bend it this way and
> that without forgetting what it really is. What was it Oscar Wilde
> said? "Ask a man a question and he'll tell you a lie. Give him a
> mask and he'll tell you the truth."
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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Received on Thu Feb 14 17:58 PST 2008

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