[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [xmca] Measuring culture

David, the quote was from Merleau-Ponty's book *Signs* written in 1964. I
got the quote from Joel Weinsheimer's 1991 book *Philosophical Hermeneutics
and Literary Theory* (p. 113) in his chapter titled "A Word is Not a Sign"
It is a fascinating read.


On Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 2:59 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>wrote:

> Greg, Larry:
> I was hoping Larry would help out with the exact source of that quote from
> Merleau-Ponty. I think it is from one of his aesthetic essays; possibly the
> one on Cezanne? In any case, I am pretty sure that Merleau-Ponty is talking
> about painting.
> Piaget says that "the American question", the desire to make development
> faster, better, and more powerful, is naive. When we read Vygotsky we are
> forced to the conclusion that Vygotsky took the American question very
> seriously.
> I think in the same way I consider the supposedly naive question about
> paintings, that is, "what does it all mean?" a completely reasonable one.
> My artist friends opine that this question asks them to render meaning in a
> language that is utterly foreign to painting, because furiously sleeping
> ideas are, as all good formalists know, quite colorless.
> But to me they are very green. Asian painting has always been talky, or at
> least writey painting; painting and drawing were differentiated from a
> common source one can still see the close propinquity in Japanese anime.
> And even in benighted Europe, after the Renaissance, and certainly after
> the invention of chiaroscuro, painting becomes narrative and
> even grammatical, that is, articulated into field, mode, and tenor (as the
> Hallidayans would say). Even those great Dutch seascapes are about a kind
> of dialogue with nature.
> I think I would say exactly the same thing about music. On the face of it,
> music is a pure formalism, all sound and fury, signifying nothing.
> Merleau-Ponty's position that art must not simply be but also mean leads us
> to a rather anhedonic and even philistine dismissal of music. How to
> explain the keen, sometimes mystical and sometimes almost
> pre-orgasmic, pleasure I get from a passage of Mahler, or those scenes of
> Chinese opera that I occasionally burden our list with?
> The first thing I notice when I look in my CD library (when I get over the
> trivial idea that a CD 'means' the music it encodes) is that a lot of the
> most supposedly primitive music I listen too is verbal: Thomas Tallis,
> African chants, Jejudo harvest songs, Korean children's play songs.
> So a little like painting it appears to have differentiated itself from a
> common source. Adorno says that the 'content' of music is dance; I think
> that is an overgeneralization, but it is clear that all of this music does
> have 'meaning' to be found in either work or play or in religious rites.
> But the second thing I notice in this early music is that the relationship
> with activity is really not grammaticized.
> Lately I've been looking at what used to be called holophrastic classroom
> languge (e.g. "Look!" "Listen!" "Repeat" from the teacher and "Wow" "Aha!"
> "Oh, no!" and "Ah--Sssaaa!" from the kids). I notice that a lot of this
> language puts in musical intonation rather than actual grammar (and in the
> case of the child's language, what segments we find are often
> palindromic--even expressions like "Hey, you!" and "Oh, yea!" tend to be
> pushme-pullyu like.) It seems to me that we can differentiate between the
> grammaticized language of the teacher (which is really a REASON and a CAUSE
> of action, and the non-grammaticized language of the kids (which is only
> RESULT and CONSEQUENCE of action).
> It seems to me that this early music is "talky" but it is talky in the
> same way: it is like the first egocentric speech that Vygotsky notes in
> "Tool and Sign", an accompaniment or even a result of action. At some time,
> though, music becomes a way of inspiring, coordinating and initiating
> action (and this is why Tolstoy decides it is immoral).
> To me, that is the precise moment when music, like painting, becomes
> verbal--musical feeling becomes verbalized and narrativized, and ultimately
> grammaticized into groups and phrases that behave very much like written
> language, and often include written language. So musical verbal thinking
> enters history: poetry becomes lyrical, and music begets opera.
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> --- On Tue, 4/24/12, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com> wrote:
> From: Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Measuring culture
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 4:19 PM
> David,
> Going back a bit, could you provide more detail on the following:
> "it started up precisely because we did not listen to Merleau-Ponty's
> remark to the effect that structuralism's main crime was not valuing
> structure ENOUGH to link it firmly enough to value"
> Would love to hear/read as much as you'd be willing to write.
> (M-P has come on the LCHC radar lately... and I like language).
> -greg
> On Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 2:53 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com
> >wrote:
> > Larry and Rob:
> >
> > I wasn't really accusing Rob Lake of being a structuralist succubus--I
> > think I would probably not accuse him of anything except an incurable
> > affability, an attitude of ready openness towards people and ideas that I
> > often wish I had more of.
> >
> > I was responding to the TED talk on N-grams, which seems to me an example
> > of corpus linguistics redux: the behaviorist fallacy that with infinite
> > instantiation we approach the idea of infinite potential.To me the idea
> > that a very large number of instances is a "snapshot" of meaning
> potential
> > denies future development; the future is not something that actually
> shows
> > up in snapshots.
> >
> > Yes, I guess I see in Larry's Gadamer summary some overlap with what I
> had
> > to say too, but it's really because the Gadamer stuff seems to me  to lap
> > overmuch, like the Odyssey's shelving sea. I feel that I'm floundering,
> and
> > I really need some examples of what it might mean to leap out of one's
> own
> > historicity and above all some examples of why one might wish to do such
> a
> > thing.
> >
> > Here are some examples that occurred to me just in the last twenty four
> > hours. See if you agree that they are what Gadamer means. If so, I am
> more
> > than interested.
> >
> >
> >  I sometimes use children's counting rhymes to teach my teachers about
> > metricity (they are bound to the written word and find it hard to 'feel'
> > the stress-unstress patterns of English, and this is one of the things
> that
> > makes it hard for them to grasp prepositions and articles as they bound
> by
> > in the unstressed sound stream).
> >
> > My students and I came up with the following, which goes fetchingly with
> a
> > painting by Delacroix and has a lot of the 'near rhymes" that Chinese
> poets
> > love (Chinese poetry is rather more tonal than rhyming):
> >
> > "Will you race?" the lion said
> > "I will bless the fastest beast"
> > So the rabbit ran his best
> > And the lion ate him last
> >
> >
> >
> http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/eugene-delacroix/lion-devouring-a-rabbit-1856
> >
> > Now, try this:
> >
> > a) "Will you race? the lion said.
> > b) "I will bless the fastest beast," the lion said.
> >
> > If you are a native speaker of English, like me, you probably have UP
> > intonation when you say the reporting clause, viz. "the lion said" in a)
> > but not in b). My wife, who is not a native speaker of English, does not
> > intone EITHER reporting clause upwards.
> >
> > What we can say is that for me, and for most English speakers, the
> > subjective viewpoint of the lion leaks into the reporting clause.
> Volosinov
> > argues that this is quite a recent historical phenomenon--it's a product
> of
> > the breakdown of the idea of the all-seeing narrator, and the birth of
> > quasi-direct discourse (and also the extremely recent invention of the
> > quotation mark).
> >
> >
> > On the Seoul subway, the announcer uses (the Korean equivalents of)
> >  "left" and "right" to indicate which door is opening when the subway
> > reaches a stop. Since most of us are facing the side of the train rather
> > than facing forward or back, this deictic is essentially ambiguous.
> > However, it never causes any confusion whatsoever, because the hearers
> > always adopt the point of view of the train driver, no matter how they
> are
> > standing.
> >
> > I have observed the same response in allegedly "egocentric" children, who
> > consider that left and right used by the teacher always assumes that the
> > teacher is facing the children, even when this contradicts their own left
> > and right and even when the teacher is facing the blackboard.
> >
> >
> > Yesterday evening I sat down with a former supervisee who is studying
> > gesture. Although I am no longer involved in research with children, I am
> > still very interested in this topic, because I can see in the videos that
> > he has brought that the children are using gestures for three quite
> > specific purposes:
> >
> > a) They are using gesture to locate the stress--even when the word itself
> > is absent because the child cannot recall it.
> >
> > b) They are using gesture to try to displace a misplaced stress. Because
> > they are very used to reading, stresses come monotonously at the ends of
> > sentences, and they use gesture to move the stress towards the new
> > information in the sentence.
> >
> > c) They are using gestures to enact meaning--they are trying to replace
> > meaningless 'beat' gestures with pointing gestures or metaphorics (e.g.
> the
> > ubiquitous 'container' gesture we see all over the TED talk!)
> >
> > Mr. Kim, on the other hand, insists they are using gesture for one
> purpose
> > only--to recall words that they cannot remember. When I ask him how this
> > works, he gives me a quote from Ausubel and says that the sentence is
> > stored in various places in the brain and the gesture helps to assemble
> it.
> >
> > I point out that there can be no empirical evidence whatsoever to back up
> > such a claim (we cannot dissect the child's brain and recover pieces of
> > sentence from it, and even if we could it would hardly explain how
> gesture
> > might reassemble them). And there is actually quite a bit of evidence
> that
> > contradicts it (e.g. the child says "Let's go picknee" instead of the
> > correct "Let's go on a picnic" and one can hear another child whispering
> > the wrong sentence to him just before he uses it).  But he will not look
> > beyond his Ausubel.
> >
> > Frustrated, it occurs to me that Mr. Kim really has a EUROPEAN rather
> than
> > an ASIAN idea of the social: families do grow out of the legal
> association
> > of individuals, and nations from leagues of city states. So too do
> > sentences grow out of the various functions of the human mind/brain. He
> > will write a very good thesis, I am sure. But I am also very glad that I
> am
> > no longer supervising it!
> >
> > David Kellogg
> > Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> >
> >
> > --- On Fri, 4/20/12, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> > From: Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
> > Subject: Re: [xmca] Measuring culture
> > To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> > Date: Friday, April 20, 2012, 6:08 AM
> >
> >
> > David, Robert
> >
> > The following quote on narrative is also exploring similar terrain to
> > Gadamer,
> >
> >
> > Ubiquitous, stories have encouraged narratologists to expand their
> purview
> > beyond the literary corpus and take the "narrative turn," embracing
> fields
> > as diverse as psychology, sociology, ethnology, history, the law,
> corporate
> > management, digital technology, and more. But whatever the universals
> > common to all narratives, literary scholars, psychotherapists,
> > sociologists, ethnologists, historians, jurists, advertising executives
> and
> > AI experts view narrative in significantly different ways and as serving
> > purposes that may be wholly at odds from one field to another. What,
> then,
> > is the influence on narrative of genre – not necessarily in the sense of
> > traditional literary scholarship, but possibly in that of "speech genres"
> > (Bakhtin), those "relatively fixed forms" that bridge the gap between
> units
> > of language or other signifying systems and discourse in its prolific
> > manifestations? Then, too, is the question of narrative in non-verbal
> forms
> > – the plastic arts and music – but also narrative in its pluri-medial
> > forms.  Yet other questions arise. If, as Barthes stressed nearly half a
> > century ago, narrative is a universal anthropological phenomenon, to what
> > extent is it constitutive of culture? Can similar lines of inquiry be
> > pursued with regard to *homo narrans*, the storytelling animal?
> >
> > In particular I want to amplify this section of the above quote
> >
> > *those "relatively fixed forms" that bridge the gap between units of
> > language or other signifying systems and discourse in its prolific
> > manifestations? Then, too, is the question of narrative in non-verbal
> forms
> > – the plastic arts and music – but also narrative in its pluri-medial
> > forms.*
> >
> > Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics invites us to enter  horizons of
> > understanding which mediate  the *relatively fixed forms* [historically
> > formed traditions] *in* which we dwell [and which constitute the
> > prejudice-structures of ALL understanding].  Gadamer would caution us
> that
> > in the *narrative turn* we don't become fixated on methodologies of
> > understanding but rather focus on unveiling the interPLAY between the
> > historically constituted prejudice-structures and the living
> hermeneutical
> > situation of the present moment.
> >
> >
> >
> __________________________________________
> _____
> xmca mailing list
> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
> __________________________________________
> _____
> xmca mailing list
> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
xmca mailing list