[xmca] Textual Life After Discoursal Death

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at yahoo.com>
Date: Mon Dec 10 2007 - 18:28:37 PST

  Well, I make no apology for being interested in educational psychology; it's my job, and sociology is not. I suppose as a consequence there are books missing from my night table and sociological gaps in my reading list. But I imagine they are mirrored by gaps in your own. Perhaps that is why XMCA exists, so we can frantically help each other plug the gaps with both thumbs while above our heads the tide of unread literature relentlessly overwhelms the dike.
  But in fact I have read Weber (though not since I was an undergraduate) and of course I've read Bernstein and Bourdieu in industrial quantities. Perhaps what I need is probably not to read more, but rather to understand Vygotsky as Vygotsky understood Vygotsky. Right now it seems to me that, having read Weber AND Bernstein AND Bourdieu, if Marx and Lenin were good enough sociologists for LSV, then they are good enough for me.
  The business about the individual minds of the dead is not some cute little eccentricity on my part. It follows naturally from your own insistence (and Bateson's, although he is not so dogmatic) that the artifacts that we create are parts of our minds. Whether they continue to be parts of our minds after our deaths seems to me to be a non-trivial question. I am willing to take your ridicule of the idea as an admission that your initial insistence was over-stated, as I think it was.
  For my part, I don't think it is completely ridiculous. As it happens, I've also read Derrida, and I was not using "trace" the way he uses it. In Grammatologie, Derrida is trying to argue that writing is antecedent to spoken language, and he does this through an ultra-Saussurean rhetorical move, by claiming that spoken words "mean" by contrast with their absences, same as a written trace "means" by contrast with an unwritten one. I am not a Saussurean.
  My own use of trace is based on the idea that a discourse is a process and a text is a product, or a "trace" of that process. A text means not by virtue of a structuralist comparison of traces with non-traces, but rather by allowing the reader/hearer to reconstruct the discourse and re-imagine the context that created it. As the minds that created the texts die out and are replaced by living minds, the re-imagination of this context becomes less re- and more pure imagination. For Sir Walter Scott, the historical novel "Waverley, or 'Tis Sixty Years Since" was almost pure history, and he preferred his second title to the first, but for us it is almost pure novel, and today hardly anybody even knows the second title.
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Mon Dec 10 18:31 PST 2007

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