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[Xmca-l] Re: Trump's speech and Perezhivanie



Dear Alfredo:

Thanks for trying to make sense of that. Analyzing  a Trump speech has a
very strange effect on the analyst: incoherence seems somehow
perfectly cohesive until it doesn't (e.g. "we" seems somehow to include
"you", until it doesn't).

Here's what I was trying to say. "Perizhivanie" has to have an "external"
aspect we can study, as well as the other things that people have been
talking about which are rather hard to study. Of course, dividing any
complex, integral whole like "perizhivanie" into "external" and "internal"
is oxymoronic. But "analysis into units" is oxymoronic too, and an oxymoron
is not the same thing as a contradiction in terms. If we really believe
that "external" perizhivanie is indivisible from internal perizhivanie,
then studying the former, and above all studying how the former becomes the
latter, might tell us what we want to know about the latter. That is, after
all, Vygotsky's method in using "egocentric speech" to study inner speech.
"Perizhivanie" is not entirely reducible to the reality we construe for
ourselves by means of language, but the part we can study is. We cannot
know what is in Trump's heart; at this point, ordinary blood and muscle
seems the most likely hypothesis. But we don't need to; what people need to
know is right there in his words so long as we know how to winkle it out.

There's a problem, though; the same problem as trying to study
"perizhivanie" from a work of art like "Fate of a Man". Any "perizhivanie"
is meta-stable: that is, it remains what it is by changing in entirety. I
think that the meta-stability of perizhivanie is the single most difficult
feature we have to study, as well as the single most important one, the one
which makes it a workable unit of analysis for the personality: it is
meta-stability which allows Vygotsky to describe both the infant feeling
the drinking of milk as it happens and the adolescent trying to make sense
of an abusive mother as "perizhivanie", and it is inattention to the facts
of meta-stability that most dogged Vygotsky studies in our first century
(including, but not limited to, the identification of crisis-ridden
development with linear forms of learning). Both Trump's speech and "Fate
of  a Man" are artificially stabilized: they are not moments of
perizhivanie, but specimens of taxidermy.

One of Vygotsky's great insights in the pedological lectures is that
although children's bodies seem, from the outside, to merely grow like
flowering plants, their minds are really much more like caterpillars,
cocoons, and then butterflies:  they undergo metamorphosis. I have a modest
corpus of "weekend stories" from first, third and sixth grade Korean
children, and even though the topics are largely the same (as Vygotsky
says, the external environment does not change that much) the language is
utterly different: the conjunction which means "and then" in first grade
means "as a result" in sixth, and the bare nouns in first grade are all
laden with embedded clauses saturated with appraisal and evaluation in
sixth. Above all, the world of material processes now has a sky of mental
processes hovering overhead.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University



On Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 3:47 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
wrote:

> Thanks a lot everyone for the outstanding contributions! I have been
> incorporating the resources and analyses that have been offered to the
> google docs. If you see something missing, go ahead and add it or make me
> aware and I'll add it.
>
> I started the thread thinking that a perhaps doable way to move test
> whether our discussions on perezhivanie could be useful was to have a
> specific empirical situation, and a set of experiences thereof. The setting
> of course is not rigorous, or at least is absolutely messy, but perhaps
> that's the way it should be and certainly that is all what we've got.  We
> seem to have no other choice than stretching out far beyond the speech
> itself, to perhaps comeback and make sense of it.
>
> David very generously offers a way of analysis of the speech that aims at
> being consistent with the notion of perezhivanie. That is to the core of
> what we were aiming for in the thread. But, of course, the matter is never
> that simple, and by no means should be limited to that and so all other
> contributions seem totally relevant and necessary to me. Martin points us
> to a book and its review in which it is reminded that we can't explain
> social actions (e.g., the speaking|hearing of an inaugural speech) from the
> perspective of intentional (speaking, hearing) agents. In an off-line
> comment on this thread, Michael R. was pointing me to some of his work on
> auto-ethnography (I added the link also in the google document) where one
> of Eminem's rap songs is analysed as social possibility. Our analyses
> should as well be offering a diversity of hearings of trump as social
> possibilities that exist because they are real, historical possibilities.
>
> This all brings me also to Sue's,  Helena's and others' remarks on the
> importance of including artistic expressions, and I think the term
> expression, or/and performance is key too. Trump is performing too, and
> like Eminem, is just performing a form of human consciousness. When I
> wonder about the perezhivanie of speaking/hearing Trump, I wonder about
> what form of consciousness is it that manifests when I hear this voice as
> *encouraging*, *lying*, etc...
>
> I add to the growing stock two more forms of expression: One that made me
> laugh a lot, from the Netherlands, where responding to Trump's assertion
> America First, Trump's language is adopted to ask him back, "may the
> Netherlands be second?"
>
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-xxis7hDOE
>
> The second is a reaction after by UK news presenter just a couple of days
> after Trump won back in November:
>
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLG9g7BcjKs
>
> Alfredo
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________________
> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> on behalf of David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> Sent: 23 January 2017 06:52
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Trump's speech and Perezhivanie
>
> Vygotsky argued for a "semantic" rather than a "cognitive" view of human
> consciousness. What's the difference?
>
> Halliday says that it is largely a matter of in which direction you
> proceed. The semantic view takes language and works "inwards", from the
> syntagm of speech to the paradigm of thinking. Things said acquire meaning
> when we compare them, not with objects, or even objects of thought, but
> with other things not said. This was Vygotsky in Chapter Seven of Thinking
> and Speech. The consciousness model starts with knowledge and works
> "outwards", from the ostensible structure of thought to the structure of
> speaking. This means that perizhivanie isn't a form of knowledge but a form
> of meaning. It's the definition Halliday offers for "experience": "the
> reality that we construe for ourselves by means of language".
>
> So for example one way to construe Trump's inaugural (see attached) is to
> compare what he said with what he could have said and did not say. I think
> that the most revealing part of the speech is actually the most frequent
> Theme of all: "we".
>
> Here's a rather coarse analysis of "Theme", "Subject" and "Actor" in the
> speech to bear this out!
>
> David Kellogg
> Macquarie University
>
>
> On Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 6:47 AM, Helena Worthen <helenaworthen@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > One more thought, before plowing ahead into this thickening conversation:
> >
> > The Destiny of a Man can be seen as an attempt (1959) to tell "The
> > Russian/Soviet Story" in a way that brought as many as possible of the
> > clashing contradictions into one narrative that makes it possible for the
> > people who might watch it go forward. We can look around at examples of
> > comparable attempts to tell “The American story.”  The nature of the
> story
> > will correspond to the time in history when it “worked” as the right
> story
> > for the time. The Destiny of a Man “worked” in 1959, when the generation
> > that had suffered in the Great Patriotic War was still healing but a
> > turning point (Kruschev’s speech) had been reached. It interpreted the
> > perezvanhie of the war for the generation that had survived it. It
> > distorted some things (what often happened to ex-prisoners of war, for
> > example) and confirmed others (the gas chambers). It wasn’t history; it
> was
> > art.
> >
> > I notice that Vygotsky says that perezvanhie is a unit that joins the
> > internal emotional experience and the external situation. I am tempted to
> > play with the Engestrom “unit of analysis” here but all refrain.
> >
> > So what works of art can we point out that would serve comparable
> > purposes, related to their moment in time?
> >
> > How about Uncle Tom’s Cabin? The images of African Americans are
> > cartoonish to modern eyes, but the book itself made the Black experience
> > accessible to the readers of 1852. It widened the circle of perezvhanie -
> > the environment - for white readers who were no doubt troubled but
> > uncertain (social situation of development?) as they sensed the tremors
> > that would flare up into the Civil War 10 years later.
> >
> > Note that the work of art that achieves this purpose (creates the right
> > story for the time) is created in the moment when uncertainty, fear, etc
> > are dominant — when it is needed, in other words - not when 100 years
> have
> > gone by (or 60, as in the case of The Destiny of a Man) and we know, or
> > think we know, what happened next. When its time is past, it becomes a
> > “classic.”  Example: Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath.
> >
> > So what can we point to that achieves this purpose for us today?
> >
> >
> > Helena Worthen
> > helenaworthen@gmail.com
> > Berkeley, CA 94707
> > Blog about US and Viet Nam: helenaworthen.wordpress.com
> >
> >
> >
> > > On Jan 21, 2017, at 11:40 PM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
> > wrote:
> > >
> > > Thank you all for following up on the Trump's speech suggestion.
> > > Helena, the way you have re-phrased my proposal is exactly they way I
> > had hoped it to be heard. I think Andy, Helena, Sue, Greg and Larry have
> > offered empirical materials for and analyses of the type we would be
> > producing if we were to follow the proposal. Thanks Greg for the
> reference,
> > which seems right to the point, and Sue for the glimpse to people's best
> > protest signs (they are good empirical materials for sure). Thanks Andy,
> > too, offering your body and soul to scientific progress and undergoing
> the
> > inaugural speech again. The way you describe it is very close to how I
> > thought and felt yesterday.
> > > My family and friends today joined the march here in Victoria, and,
> like
> > Helena mentions, we all commented on how well it felt. There was a very
> > cheerful, friendly atmosphere, and lots of affection. I too felt better
> > today.
> > >
> > > In case we wanted to go forward with this project, I have created a
> > google doc in which I am collecting the resources, empirical cases, and
> > analyses that we have begun producing. I have also added additional links
> > (like one to the "Bikers for Trump" site, and the full transcript of the
> > inaugural speech plus a link from the Washington Post.
> > >
> > > The document should be accessible to everyone who follow this link:
> > > https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Nmn77hKa8XhDJ043ZfVuTUtT7NxDA
> > ibuzdv0KJDGqCo/edit?usp=sharing
> > > I guess the easiest way is that I curate it, populating it with content
> > shared in xmca, but everyone is able and welcome to edit.
> > > Alfredo
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > ________________________________________
> > > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
> >
> > on behalf of Helena Worthen <helenaworthen@gmail.com>
> > > Sent: 22 January 2017 06:54
> > > To: ablunden@mira.net; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Trump's speech and Perezhivanie
> > >
> > > OK, got it.
> > >
> > > H
> > >
> > > Helena Worthen
> > > helenaworthen@gmail.com
> > > Berkeley, CA 94707
> > > Blog about US and Viet Nam: helenaworthen.wordpress.com
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >> On Jan 21, 2017, at 9:29 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
> > >>
> > >> No, Helena, the *environment* is the same, but each are in a different
> > *social situation of development*, thus the different perezhivanie.
> > >>
> > >> Andy
> > >>
> > >> ------------------------------------------------------------
> > >> Andy Blunden
> > >> http://home.mira.net/~andy
> > >> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
> > >> On 22/01/2017 3:48 PM, Helena Worthen wrote:
> > >>> ... The social situation — like the alcoholic mother in the case with
> > the three children each with a different perezvhanie - is the same for
> both
> > people who are listening to the speech, but the people (like the
> children)
> > respond differently.
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>
> > >
> >
> >
>