Re: [xmca] Re: LCA: A novice takes a first shoot: spreading the symbol, not the meaning.

Date: Wed Jun 29 2005 - 12:37:02 PDT


You have provided much food for thought regarding how meaning becomes a
shared cultural experience in order for people to move beyond the external
objects and into the realm of concepts. I need to return to Halliday's
words before commenting further but am thankful for your insight.


                      Lars Rossen
                      <lhrossen3 who-is-at gmail To:
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                      Sent by: Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: LCA: A novice takes a first shoot: spreading the
                      xmca-bounces who-is-at web symbol, not the meaning.
                      06/29/2005 02:00
                      Please respond
                      to Lars Rossen;
                      Please respond
                      to "eXtended
                      Media, Culture,

Eric, Gordon,
whether intended or not the description of the new worker describes my
own entrance to the XMCA quite well...

Never the less it strikes me that if one where to maintain Hallidays
starting point, the "act of meaning" where the mother and child
initiates communication around what could almost be described as
behavioral reinforcement or conditioning when the child is taught how
a specific outreach towards the outside world will be interpreted and
reacted to based on, in Hallidays example, their play with a ball,
thus "organizing their experiences into meaning and exploring the
contradiction between inner and outer experience" and learning the
principals of communicating on this nonverbal basis.

But when the focus moves onward, the initial importance of the
physical act slips into the back, lending room to the language-based
act of meaning. The body that produced the first meaningful act is
more or less left behind as the theory progresses. Never the less it
could be an interesting supplement to look toward the work of
Merleau-Ponty who seem to be in agreement with the Vygotskian point of
view (that culture determines - and gives rise to - thought) and like
Halliday begins his theory with the dialectic experiences of inner and
outer world.
Merleau-Ponty tries to put the experiencing body back into the
philosophy of language development by pointing out that acts of
meaning remains inseparable from the body - there might be "another,
less heavy, more transparent, body, as though it were to change flesh,
abandoning the flesh of the body for that of language" ? Language is a
more diaphanous body, but a body nonetheless (The Visible and the
Invisible, 1968). So when analyzing the rise of language he looks
towards the speaker and the context and only then does he move on to
speculating about spoken language. The intentionality behind the
outreach becomes the unit of analysis and is not see as separated from
the instrument, the body. For the new worker (or the guy at the
keyboard typing his way in to XMCA) this becomes highly significant in
terms of the amount of non-verbal or non-textualized (but off course
still semiotic) feedback that shapes the working environment and helps
the apprentice form his practice to fit the new.

It could be argued that we ? when looking at both the language and the
actual speaker and his place in the environment as two somewhat
separate but conjoined and interdependent units of analysis, open up
for the opportunity to understand both the acts that (through life)
follow communication and the way speech is embedded in, developing,
and developed by, the cultural context by maintaining this
supplementary, physical type of dialogue as a parallel trajectory to
the chosen focus on language development. This way learning remains
language based ? but is not separated from the system that
internalizes the knowledge and practice and the non-verbal act remains
an equally meaningful part of the cultural behavior and communication.

By bringing emphasis to the speaker and his way of speaking, a broader
understanding of language itself would emerge, as well as the whole of
the semiotic system. The unit of analysis I (try to) propose is a
constellation of the enactment and the enacter of communication in
order to grasp the culture - instead of limiting the view to the
"text" itself. We should looking towards how the "subtle process by
which adults artificially arrange the world so that the child can
succeed culturally by doing what comes naturally, and with others
similarly inclined" (Bruner in Cole 1996). We need only to exchange
"the parents" with the "co-workers" and "the child" with "the worker"
or any other two interrelated people to see language as only one
artifact among many that helps the flow of communication and the way
intentionality plays a crucial role in beginning the (language)
learning process.


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