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Re: [xmca] Living metaphor and conventionalized language
Thank-you for this wonderful posting.
>From what I have been reading of your work
for over a year now, writing like this
represents your best work.
I recommend you submit something to the
*Journal of Aesthetic Education.*
Thanks for the poetry and your commentary.
I have never read anything by Cecil Day-Lewis and now I must have more.
Here are the last two stanzas -from Wallace Stevens........
*Six Significant Landscapes*
I include the first one for the sheer beauty of metaphor and the last one
just for fun.
Not all the knives of the lamp-posts,
Nor the chisels of the long streets,
Nor the mallets of the domes
And high towers,
What one star can carve,
Shining through the grape-leaves.
Rationalists, wearing square hats,
Think, in square rooms,
Looking at the floor,
Looking at the ceiling.
They confine themselves
To right-angled triangles.
If they tried rhomboids,
Cones, waving lines, ellipses --
As, for example, the ellipse of the half-moon --
Rationalists would wear sombreros.
On Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 12:27 AM, David Kellogg <email@example.com>wrote:
> Did I use the word "system"? I suppose I did. What I really mean is what
> Halliday calls "meaning potential", the way that a traffic light can
> potentially be red or yellow or green. It is what we might call leaving
> things that we could say unsaid.
> I guess I think of a system as being just a set of options, you know, like
> a traffic light, or a dictionary entry or the system of tense or negation.
> It's the semiotic resources that Mommy and Daddy provide you with, the set
> of metaphors that have already been made with the language, what Vygotsky
> calls signification.
> One of the key unresolved problems in CHAT (which you can see, for example,
> in the way Ratner disagrees with Wertsch, and even in the early
> disagreements between Vygotsky and Leontiev over "activity" and "semiosis")
> is how culture gets "in": is it "internalized" or is it "appropriated"? Is
> it somehow co-constructed, by the individual on the one hand and the society
> on the other?
> Of course, BOTH "internalization" and "appropriation" are metaphors. I
> don't flee from the "internalization" metaphor the way that Martin does,
> partly because I think of it as referring not to a body but as to a nation,
> a country, a city, a community, a family...or some particle thereof. In this
> sense (a sense which I suppose is better captured by "interiorization" than
> by "internalization", just as "reflection" is better captured by
> "refraction") there is no duality; when you move from one nation to another
> you do not change worlds, nor do you change nations when you move from one
> city to another.
> But I do have a problem--I think that we can't just get culture into the
> picture by referring to cultural artefacts like signs and tools. The map is
> not the territory, and human relations are not, in essence, about signs and
> tools; they are about flesh and blood other people. It is here that I think
> distinguishing between meaning potential in a cultural artefact and the
> actual meaning making that goes on between flesh and blood persons is
> important, not least because BOTH of them develop and develop each other in
> a way that's not really explicable by just looking at the artefacts
> Consider, for example, the dictionary as a cultural artefact. You know, in
> the eighteenth century, dictionaries were a little like Bartlett's today.
> They did contain definitions for the really thick-skulled (there was a newly
> literate middle class that had to have everything spelled out) but the
> definitions were sometimes rather whimsical (e.g. "pensioner: a man whose
> flattery is repaid with insolence") and the main thing people read them for
> was the learned quotations and snappy put-downs that were provided as
> examples (hence Johnson's dictionary and of course the "Devil's Dictionary"
> of Ambrose Bierce).
> So the function of a dictionary was not to systematize the language but
> rather to provide resources for sense. It was to make you sound witty and
> creative and original in the chocolate houses. I suppose it must have been
> rather annoying that dictionaries were so widely read, because it meant that
> many people in your chocolate house would know the joke before you told it,
> or, heaven forfend, try to tell the same joke themselves.But of course
> dictionaries WERE widely read, and they became guides to meaning potential
> rather than a set of instances of actual wit.
> In the late twentieth century, though, the pendulum began to swing the
> other way, because CoBuild and other dictionaries began to inspect computer
> corpora of actual uses, and they discovered (for example) that it is much
> more common to say, metaphorically, that you "run a business" than
> concretely, that you run a hundred yards on your own two feet. To me,
> though, all that means is that the new systemic "meaning potential" has to
> start with running a business, and that what I did this morning for exercise
> was a kind of metaphorical extension of running a business to my muscles and
> achilles tendons.
> There is a good poem about the relationship between meaning potential and
> actual meaning by Cecil Day-Lewis. It's metaphorical, of course! He begins
> by defining a sign for us, and pointing out that a tree is a sign too
> (because it stands for itself, or if you want to be physiological about it,
> it produces an image on our retina which is interpreted by our brains as a
> tree.) But it's a sign without a system, without much unrealized meaning
> This tree outside my window here,
> Naked, umbrageous, fresh or sere,
> Has neither chance nor will to be
> Anything but a linden tree,
> Even if its branches grew to span
> The continent; for nature’s plan
> Insists that infinite extension
> Shall create no new dimension.
> >From the first snuggling of the seed
> In earth, a branchy form’s decreed.
> You have to admit the Creator was original. He was certainly forceful in
> his creativity. But rather limited, when you look at it; in His later career
> He kept repeating Himself with only minor variations, and most of what was
> new was not very good. Human creativity is a different matter!.
> Unwritten poems loom as if
> They’d cover the whole of earthly life.
> But each one, growing, learns to trim its
> Impulse and meaning to the limits
> Roughed out by me, then modified
> In its own truth’s expanding light.
> A poem, settling to its form,
> Finds there’s no jailer, but a norm
> Of conduct, and a fitting sphere
> Which stops it wandering everywhere.
> Human creativity, unlike nature, is an embarrassment of riches; we need
> rhyme (which you notice Day-Lewis adheres to quite rigorously) and meter to
> keep us honest. As Adorno says, the bourgeoisie would like life to be
> austere and art voluptuous, but we would really be much better off with
> things the other way around: life full of actual meaning, and art full of
> things left unsaid.
> Now here Day-Lewis notes that there is a third thing--and it is the thing
> that Bakhtin wrote almost exclusively about, something that is neither
> system of meaning nor instance of meaning making, something that is neither
> signification nor purely individual sense: it is human relationships in all
> their complex, meaty sensuousness.
> Are interpersonal relations more like intra-personal relations or are they
> more like societal relations? Are they more intra-psychological or more
> trans-psychological? Are more things to be left said or unsaid? Half said?
> Are these going to be austere or voluptuous? Will they depend on potential
> or upon realization?
> As for you, my love, it’s harder,
> Though neither prisoner nor warder,
> Not to desire you both: for love
> Illudes us we can lightly move
> Into a new dimension, where
> The bounds of being disappear
> And we make one impassioned cell.
> So wanting to be all in all
> Each for each, a man and a woman
> Defy the limits of what’s human.
> Voluptuous then, and almost intrapersonal--but this is a romantic, young
> person's view. Day-Lewis wrote this late in life, after many years of what
> we would have to call development. Human development is not like natural
> development; it means creating more potential rather than simply realizing
> it (and thus leaving less unsaid).
> But when we cease to play explorers
> And become settlers, clear before us
> Lies the next need – to re-define
> The boundary between yours and mine;
> Else, one stays prisoner, one goes free.
> Each to his own identity
> Grown back, shall prove our love’s expression
> Purer for this limitation.
> Love’s essence, like a poem’s, shall spring
> >From the not saying everything.
> David Kellogg
> --- On Wed, 8/10/11, Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> From: Larry Purss <email@example.com>
> Subject: [xmca] Living metaphor and conventionalized language
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 10:59 AM
> Hi David Ke
> Your response to Nickolai mentioned the constant movement of living
> and language as a conventionalized SYSTEM. This seems to me to be one more
> example of this living GENERATIVE movement of consciousness.
> xmca mailing list
> xmca mailing list
*Robert Lake Ed.D.
Social Foundations of Education
Dept. of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading
Georgia Southern University
P. O. Box 8144
Phone: (912) 478-5125
Fax: (912) 478-5382
Statesboro, GA 30460
*Democracy must be born anew in every generation, and education is its
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