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Re: [xmca] When the Message Takes Over the Bottle

Here's the epigraph from Chapter Seven, in the 1934 Labirinth edition:
Я слово позабыл, что я хотел сказать, 
И мысль бесплотная в чертог теней вернется. 

You can see it's NOT the first two lines of the poem, for all the reasons you said. But it's not exactly the last two lines of the penultimate verse either.  

Но я забыл, что я хочу сказать,
И мысль бесплотная в чертог теней вернется.

Mandelstam apparently didn't write his poems down very much (this is confirmed by his widow and also by the article you sent). He did recite them for friends, though; and of course Vygotsky was one.
a) Vygotsky's epigraph is one version, accurately rendered, of the poem which Mandelstam recited for Vygotsky or somebody else, but there are many other versions.
b) Vygotsky's epigraph is an imperfect memorization by Vygotsky of a poem heard from Mandelstam and accurately transcribed elsewhere.
The passage I was writing about, with the water molecule, is also there in Chapter One, in a slightly different form. Some of the difference is Minick's translation, which is not very consistent, but some of it is the wording. Vygotsky's memory was phenomenal, but it's a memory for meanings rather than for wordings; empty verbalism is completely foreign to the way he thinks, and part of the fun of translating him is recognizing the many different formulations he can give to the same idea.
I think that the different formulations of the Unicorn poem can ALL be found in Vygotsky's essay on Imagination and Creativity in the Child; the "combinatorial" phase is a relatively low form of (concrete) creativity and the "unrealized potential" is a rather higher form.
The "combinatorial" creativity (corresponding to Tomasello's "item based combinations") is the sort of creativity we see in Unicorns and Manticores and Qilins and other fabulous beasts (and it is also there in the "Sprummer" data that I presented a while ago, but it does not bring anything new into the world. 
The "unrealized potential" form of creativity is a different beast altogether; as you say it requires space rather than mere volume, because the potential has to be unrealized in order for it to be creative. 
We had a minor form of this in class today; my kids were coming to grips with the idea that you can't actually present the "can" of "I am skating" by presenting pictures of children skating. So here's what we did:
T: Look! He is skating. So...he can skate. Now, I am NOT skating. I'm teaching. Besides, it's almost summer. But I can skate. Soyeong, can you skate?
Here the teacher creates a "space" between the actual and the potential with the word "so" and then CONTRASTS the two with the word "but", which NEGATES the actual and leaves only the potential. That's what unicorns do. But teachers can do it too, in a pinch.
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

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