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[Xmca-l] Re: The Dialectical Problematic of Resolving the Black WhiteAca.pdf
- To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Dialectical Problematic of Resolving the Black WhiteAca.pdf
- From: David Kellogg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2017 08:19:22 +1000
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Perhaps I should have translated the first line "Folk at first" (the three
characters say something like "Humans in their original state"). In my
translation, I was trying to capture
a) the trisyllabic structure of each line,
b) the allusiveness of ancient Chinese (which as McWhorter points out is
still a feature of modern Chinese today), and
c) the reliance on "pure" words that have not had any contact with other
languages (like trying to translate Beowulf into modern English without any
use of Greco-Latinate words).
But all of this is really an aside, meant to illustrate the antiquity of
the problem of remedial literacy and the fundamentally egalitarian impulse
of remedial reading teachers. The real reason why Paul cites himself so
often in the references isn't self-adulation; it's that Paul actually does
what he talks about; he is author of a whole set of the kind of remedial
materials he wants.
Anthropologists on the left are often anarchists: they are attracted to
"primitive communism" not so much because of the egalitarianism and the
common property but because of the statelessness, and the feeling of
statelessness that you get when you live in remote areas. The idea of a
community which is held together by what Richard B. Lee called "gossip",
"ridicule" and the threat of witchcraft instead of police, prisons, and
taxes appeals to the cowboy and the colonialist as well as the communist.
(I think that it is ONLY societies like these where we can talk of class
relations as reducible to language games.)
Linguists on the left (and Paul is a very acute one) find themselves in a
still more exquisite contradiction. As Halliday says, semiotic systems are
always normative with respect to the present and probabilistic with respect
to the future, so it is impossible to commit any semiotic act no matter how
small that does not slightly change the norms, at least on an interpersonal
level, and thus slightly alter the probabilities. So on the one hand, we
want to change the world and not just interpret it, and the fact that we
work in language makes this not only possible but inevitable. But on the
other, we know that the speech of the oppressed is not just every bit as
profound and rich and conceptually deep as that of the oppressor, it is
more so because the oppressed must be bilingual in ways that oppressors do
not require. Do try to save the speech--or the speakers?
Paul's predicament is this: to empower a group of flesh and blood kids with
white English, you have to disempower their profound, rich, and
conceptually deep system of language. If you think about it, you will see
that his complaints about the embourgeoisement of black music are
similar--to "empower" black music in a bourgeois culture, you must destroy
it as a profound, rich, and conceptually deep non-bourgeois semiotic
system. That was the "turning point" of the seventies that Paul is pointing
to. Sometimes a "turning point" is not a revolution.
Paul is unflinching and uncompromising in everything--almost. It is people,
at root, who are empowered or disempowered, not language systems, so black
kids are just going to have to learn to be profound, rich, and conceptually
rich black people in white English (Paul himself is a perfect example).
Unlike McWhorter, Paul is a Whorfian, i.e. a real cultural-historical
linguist (McWhorter's comments on Whorf show that he is offended by the
man, but alas not offended enough to actually read and understand his
work). If overcoming the achievement gap means overcoming black English,
so be it. Bilingualism which is not voluntary and reversible is not
really bilingualism. Paul is not willing to sacrifice real children on the
altar of virtual language.
But I think the same logic should apply to their children and their
children's children when we talk of climate change. So I think in the
end the left anthropologist in Paul betrays the left linguist. For the
former, the choice is the subsistence agriculture of stateless societies
enamored of cowboys, colonialists and communists, societies that can be
ruled by language games instead of cops and guns and armies. For the
latter, the planned, voluntary and considered degradation of our planetary
resources must suffice, and to be deliberate it must be reversible.
On Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 12:03 AM, Greg Thompson <email@example.com>
> Yes, David, your four lines of the Three Character classic reminds me of
> my favorite Jane Addams quote (paraphrased): "All antagonisms are unreal."
> (quoted in Louis Menand's book The Metaphysical Club and based on notes
> John Dewey sent to his wife Alice regarding his conversations with Addams).
> On Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at 7:36 AM, Lplarry <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > David,
> > I hear a particular wisdom tradition distilled in these 4 lines that has
> > offered a mapping for 1000 years
> > Begin with our common human kind.
> > Why begin here ?
> > (answer) humankind good at root/ground). This wisdom tradition focusing
> > on *good* (at heart) is the grounding of humankind
> > Close in Kin : This focus on what Randall Collins explores as (small
> > groupings). Kin are (close) in their intrinsic essential QUALITIES. Pay
> > attention to these small group qualities within which the (good) prevails
> > within right practice.
> > Far in Forms : These forms that multiply being epiphenomenal, generated
> > from what is essential – the good at heart which is the ground of
> > This presents a message of (hope) within a practice. Randall Collins and
> > Goffman indicate the this intimate goodness occurs within small grouping
> > events.
> > (see Randall Collins book, The Sociology of Philosophies where he sites
> > creativity in small group kin like forms
> > Sent from my Windows 10 phone
> > From: David Kellogg
> > Sent: June 15, 2017 4:43 AM
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Dialectical Problematic of Resolving the Black
> > WhiteAca.pdf
> > Thanks, Paul. Often, when I read your work, I am set off by this or that.
> > For example:
> > a) the vastness, almost to the point of vacuity, of the "and" with which
> > you propose to link climate change and the achievement gap, (pp. 1-9)
> > b) the idea that social class is a "language game", (3, 5)
> > c) the idea that the embourgeoisement of black mustic only began in the
> > seventies, (5)
> > d) the idea that what black kids need are more remedial programmes in
> > English, and (6)
> > e) the lack of any reference to the huge black industrial proletariat
> > rise and fall was both the precondition and the postscript of the
> > Century" (1-9),
> > f) the number of times you cite yourself in the references! (9).
> > But then I find that almost each point that sets me off has something
> > sets me back again, in ways that are often just as weird or even weirder.
> > a) I think that in SOME ways the discourse of prosperity IS linked to
> > climate change, but concretely, politically, in the very person of
> > the "poor man's idea of a rich man" president we are now enduring
> > and in his (fortunately tokenistic) perfidy on the Paris Agreement. I
> > think that the transition of China, from a country that was following the
> > model of "get dirty and then wash your hands" to a country which now
> > seeks--with considerable success--to be a world leader in the struggle
> > against climate change is a model worth considering, not least for the
> > so-called "black -white academic gap". (I don't see how subsistence
> > agriculture enters into it though.)
> > b) Social class is not reducible to a language game, but if I have to
> > choose between John McWhorter's view and that of Paul Mocombe, the latter
> > has Ruqaiya Hasan--and science--on his side.
> > c) Embourgeoisement of black culture was already old in the sixties. But
> > something new DID happen in the seventies--and what happened seems to me
> > linked with point e).
> > d) Remedial programmes based on dialect are not only fruitless--they are
> > beside the point, because the "language game" in b) is not chiefly about
> > vowel sounds or copular "to be". But programmes based on register--on
> > functional literate varieties of whatever dialect you happen to speak.
> > you're talking...
> > e) I remember working on the assembly line at General Motors during the
> > seventies to the tune of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
> > It's not a tune you hear today except on youtube. Something happened to
> > this music and to the people who sang it along with me, but it was the
> > thing that happened to the industrial proletariat as a whole....
> > f) Alongside all the hecatombs of Macombes in the reference list, there
> > an F.E. Frazier! As Halliday likes to say, you shall know names, like
> > nouns, by the company they keep....
> > In China, the remedial reading programme is the Song Dynasty "Three
> > Character Classic", a little over a thousand years old now. It begins
> > this:
> > 人之初，
> > 性本善。
> > 性相近，
> > 習相遠。
> > Humankind
> > Good at root
> > Close in kin
> > Far in forms
> > That is, "Humans in their origins are intrinsically, essentially kind to
> > each other. This is because they are close in their intrinsic, essential
> > qualities, and they only differ in epiphenomenal, cultural habits."
> > (I once asked my wife if she ever learned these words as a little girl,
> > she says that they learned to denounce them as reactionary relics of the
> > old, black, dark times before liberation in China. Yet to me they just
> > mean: "Workers of the world, you have nothing to lose but your
> > David Kellogg
> > Macquarie University
> > On Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at 10:57 AM, Dr. Paul C. Mocombe <
> > email@example.com> wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Sent via the Samsung Galaxy Note® 4, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Anthropology
> 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602