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[Xmca-l] Re: now out in paperback

If Gal'perin is accurate in his depiction of Vygotsky's "style" of
understanding and grasping meaning then it opens up a place to hear what
Zinchenko is saying and indicating with new ears.
I read Zinchenko as suggesting that the relations Vygotsky understood
between thought and word ALSO extend to other "places" [topos] such as
image and action and music.


On Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 5:29 AM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>

> This is account, regarding Vygotsky's fluency, is from Haenen (1996, pp
> 27-28):
> "There is a point concerning Vygotsky's personality that needs special
> mention.  Being a psychoneurologist and a medical practitioner, Gal'perin
> (1986a) got the impression, that in a certain respect there was something
> pathological about Vygotsky.  He was in an unusual way, exceptionally
> verbally gifted.  If, for example, he had dictated some texts, they could
> be published straight away, after minimum correction.  This explained why
> he published such a large list of titles in just one decade of being a
> psychologist.  That was only possible because he dictated so much and these
> manuscripts could directly be sent to the publishers.  From this it is
> evident that he had an exceptional command of intellectual speech.
> However, according to Gal'perin (1986a), there was something curious about
> Vygotsky's verbal giftedness.  Gal'perin had once read at Luria's a note
> written by Vygotsky himself in which he wonders what kind of primitivism he
> is suffering from and what is happening to his senses.  At the end of the
> 1920s, Vygotsky used the term 'primitivism' in his defectological writings,
> in which he first gave a general outline of the cultural-historical
> approach.  He considered primitivism the inability to use certain cultural
> tools (see Van der Veer & Valsiner, 1991, p. 73).  Apparently, Vygotsky
> felt himself somehow blocked in his cultural development, because the
> following occurred.  When he saw a depicted or displayed representation of
> something, he didn't understand  anything about it.  He could say what he
> saw, but he had no grasp of the reference, the meaning or the quality of
> it.  On the other hand, if he had to tell somebody else about this very
> representation, he came up with more than that person could see in it.
> With him, everything emerged in speech!
> The same happened with music.  Music meant nothing to Vygotsky on  hearing
> it.  On the contrary when he read something about works of music, the words
> he spoke sounded better than the works on paper.  According to Gal'perin
> (1986a), this aspect of Vygotsky bordered on pathology, because it was not
> explainable as merely one-sidedness.  You speak of one-sidedness, when one
> personality trait is more strongly developed than another.  With Vygotsky,
> however, it was more a question of the complete absence of something.  In
> Gal'perin's view, it was something like agnosia, but that wasn't really it
> either.  Vygotsky knew, for example, that a particular object was a chair.
> But that chair held no meaning for him; if he put it into words, then he
> could tell you everything about that chair: the history of it, the part it
> played in the life of the man who sat on it, etc..."
> Personally, I consider the business of determining exactly what someone
> wrote, or said, as an imperative to be already a capitulation to
> understanding.  Instead of understanding one hankers after what someone has
> said, what the signs are rather than the meanings --- what time the clock
> says, rather than what time really is, what the professor has said, rather
> than what is speaking the professor.
> I came to Vygtosky's thought and speech/language with an array of
> thought-problems (which are inherently not about signs) and as such it was
> a pleasure to read.
> Huw
> On 28 January 2015 at 12:17, Peter Smagorinsky <smago@uga.edu> wrote:
> > Annalisa, thanks for your thoughtful response here, and generally since
> > joining this conversation.
> >
> > Your consideration of LSV's difficulty as an author provides many
> > possibilities. I can't remember if "indifference to readers'
> sensibilities"
> > was a line I got from a source, or one I made up based on sources. If
> > "indifference" is the problematic term, then I'm sure something more
> gentle
> > could be identified.
> >
> > I'm not too good at mind-reading, so don't think I can speak to LSV's
> > motive, even if claiming his indifference, or however you might
> > alternatively phrase it, suggests that whenever I wrote those lines, I
> > thought I could. So I need to get out of the business of attempting to
> > explain his motives, only the outcome: Most people agree that reading
> > Vygotsky is pretty challenging, and for those of us who speak no Russian
> > and rely on translations, often unreliable.
> >
> > I will offer another contextual factor in addition to others I've
> > suggested (He wrote quickly and prolifically because his illness might
> end
> > his life at any time; he wrote by hand or dictated and did not appear to
> > revise, a problem that I've also heard contributed to difficulties in
> > reading Piaget--from Irving Sigel, I think, before he died.) This latter
> > problem, I suspect, was exacerbated by terrible paper shortages in the
> > Soviet Union. One of the most remarkable testaments to this problem
> > concerns Bakhtin and his insatiable tobacco habit. During one severe
> paper
> > shortage, he began rolling cigarettes out of his written manuscripts,
> thus
> > depriving us of his whole corpus. (I think this story is related in the
> > introduction to Speech Genres and Other Essays.) So even if Vygotsky had
> > been inclined to revise, he might not have had the paper to do it with.
> >
> > Complicated stuff! p
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
> > xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Annalisa Aguilar
> > Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 6:34 PM
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: now out in paperback
> >
> > Hi Peter!
> >
> > Thanks for your very robust and bursting reply. Here's my reply in kind
> > and kindness.
> >
> > I do not disagree with anything said about the difficulty we all face
> when
> > we face the texts we have inherited from Vygotsky. So for this train of
> > thought pulling away from the quay, I'd ask you leave that concern on the
> > platform.
> >
> > What I troubles me, I suppose, is the notion that he "was indifferent to
> > his reader's sensibilities." I don't believe that that is a fair
> > representation of the historical facts, and perhaps all we are doing is
> > arguing about interpretations of the history and the facts, and that is
> > certainly fair game.
> >
> > However, what I see in Vygotsky, when I think about Vygotsky and his
> > texts, is a great comet in the sky ready to burn out at any time and the
> > faster he writes the brighter he burns.
> >
> > What I cannot help but see, employing my top-down-thinking sensibility,
> is
> > that Vygotsky may not have been interested in inner speech of children
> > _just because_ it was an intriguing phenomenon uncovered by Piaget, that
> it
> > was the "cool hot topic," as we might say in today's vernacular. Could it
> > be that Vygotsky had a *personal* interest in inner speech? that this was
> > the shape of his own thought? an awareness and understanding of his own
> way
> > of thinking? Perhaps the writing that he left behind was not written down
> > as indifference to his readers, but because he knew he lived in a time
> and
> > space in which the light might go out in his life at anytime. Perhaps the
> > man didn't want to lose that thought which would lead to the very next
> > thought and the train that would reveal more amazing vistas of the
> > countryside of thoughts.
> >
> > In other words, the man was in a hurry to see a man about a dog.
> >
> > Or if I might decode that metaphor as I mean it: all his own work began
> as
> > inner speech, as a technique to capture his own thought. The written
> > fragments we have before us are archeological remains of these flights of
> > thought. He wasn't indifferent, it's just he wanted to interact privately
> > with himself, a kind of inner speech.
> >
> > As I write this myself I suddenly thought, perhaps the writing was
> nothing
> > more than a tool to help him think, like the Einstein and the chalkboard.
> > And maybe when Vygotsky first began the practice of writing down his
> inner
> > speech, he thought he'd have more time to decode, but as it became nearer
> > the day for his comet to leave our orbit, he couldn't stop the train to
> > revisit past stops, the train was fast in motion and what motivated him
> was
> > to get to his destination rather than considering where he'd already
> been.
> > Late trains have few opportunities to dilly-dally.
> >
> > Is it possible for us to look at his commentary about inner speech in
> > children, and then "decode" his own writing? I don't know! But it was a
> > thought of mine I'd had while reading your text.
> >
> > I also wonder, naively of course, whether the shards of his writing are
> > actually carelessness, but "formlessness" ?
> >
> > Here's another emerging thought: Could this formlessness have been a
> > possible obfuscation for political reasons? To my mind, if that were
> true,
> > such political reasons cannot be justly rendered as indifference, but a
> > whole heck of a lot of care and carefulness.
> >
> > These are not claims I make strongly, but rather thinking out loud, to
> > offer that Vygotsky did not seem to me in any way a muscular academic
> > speaking to his own tribe with a devil-may-care attitude for everyone
> else.
> > What saddens me is that your phrase promulgates that kind of idea, at
> least
> > it did for me, and this possibly creates further obfuscation, something
> of
> > which we require less not more. My heartfelt wish is that you might
> reflect
> > on other possible reasons why the writing came to us in the forms that
> they
> > have.
> >
> > At first we can think, "Confounded these hieroglyphics!" or we can
> instead
> > look closer and realize there is actually a Rosetta stone before us. If
> so,
> > it means we have some decoding work to do, and that is just the way it
> is.
> > But we also have a responsibility to make those who come after us
> > understand why it is Vygotsky must be handled with care. That seems to be
> > something you and I share when thinking about his writing.
> >
> > But it was the affect effect that I had, a little disruptive "Oh my!"
> when
> > I'd read your interpretation that included this word "indifference," for
> I
> > think if you look to his character, "indifference" would be the very last
> > word I would use to describe him.
> >
> > Kind regards,
> >
> > Annalisa
> >
> >
> >
> >