Re: [xmca] Streamed Discussion of Discussion of Development in CHAT theory

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Wed Nov 14 2007 - 19:31:28 PST

  I gather you don't like the word "agency". It's Mike's word, not mine (and it's not LSV's either, as you point out). But I don't see what is wrong with it. It's one of those really delightful expressions that means both itself and its opposite (like "I could care less" or "I couldn't care less" or "I thought you'd REMEMBER me" and "I THOUGHT you'd remember me"). We say that somebody who can do things for his or herself has "agency", but of course when we want somebody to do something for us we go to a travel/real estate agent.
  I'm very fond of these pushmipullyu expressions because they show so very clearly how WRONG it is to think that (as my colleagues in the phonology department like to say) utterances or words or phonemes "carry" meaning. They only point to where you have to rummage around to find it, and in that sense even the most symbolic expressions are merely indexes.
  Very well then. Here is another place for you to rummage around in order to find my meaning. This morning there was a story about how Sir Simon Rattle, conducting a performance of Mahler's Ninth, was disturbed by coughing sounds from the audience. He stepped off the stage into the audience and explained to them that Mahler's Ninth was written to include a moment of silence at the beginning and at the end, and that the audience thus had to participate in the creation of the music by providing that silence. He even took out a handkerchief and demonstrated how to blow your nose silently as if he were showing a novice orchestra member how to play a particularly challenging instrumental passage.
  That's all I meant to say: the audience has a peripheral role, while the orchestra is central. But as Sir Simon points out, a peripheral role is still a role. My ex-grad would complain that it is a non-interactive one, but in fact this is not strictly true either, else Sir Simon would not have had to stop the performance. Mutatis mutandis, a child whose only way of communicating is crying, who stops crying when the communicative need is satisfied even when the underlying biological need remains, is still playing a social role.
  (At the end of the piece, the story says, the audience remained silent, but you could hear police sirens outside the concert hall...)
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Wed Nov 14 19:33 PST 2007

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