I'm also doing a test to see how this format works. Eugene thank you for starting this site. I post to the CHAT site sometimes. My name is Larry Purss. I work in elementary schools in Vancouver Canada. I am very interested in the dialogical framework [as well as the hermeneutic and cultural=historical and neo-Meadian and intersubjective psychoanalysis.
Recently "human science" as a term was discussed on CHAT and the four themes of that framework interest me. We must foreground values, we must discuss "agency", we should discuss our teleological goals, and who gets to decide. The dialogical framework has the potential to add significantly to these questions.
I work in 3 schools in Vancouver as a counsellor so have a lot of opportunity for dialogue…
Two authors, Alex Gillespie [Stirling University] and Jack Martin [Simon Fraser University] have recently been exploring a revisioning of George Herbet Mead's account of the social constitution of persons and "agency". They are attempting to create a developmental model that posits increasing "distanciation" [reflective processes] as a process of COORDINATING MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES.
However, they avoid the term "stages" as they suggest all previous perspectives [which for Mead refer to "orientation within activity" and not just cognitive] continue to influence activity and are not transcended. There model takes Mead's notion that a sense of self EMERGES within social contexts where "Other(s)" and their perspectives are foregrounded within emergence. "Mind" "self" "agency" "perspectives" emerge within social acts and this emergence starts at birth. Language and "significant symbols" [symbols that are shared] develop FROM earlier sensory motor perspectives and are COORDINATED with these earlier perspectives. My reason for being attracted to this model of development is ithat it recognizes earlier more concrete and immediate perspectives as co-existing with more "distanciated" [abstracted] perspectives. This supports my other bias of the centrality of AFFECT [as the movement towards or away from others] in EMERGENCE and ties in with my curiosity with "relational" or "intersubjective" psychoanalysis which foregrounds "affect" within social relationships. I appreciate this model for its recognition of the centrality of "self" in the constitution of "other" and foregrounds the MORAL and ETHICAL positioning of all relationships.
What I see in common between neo_meadian, relational psychoanalytic, and dialogical models is the centrality of process and fluidity, history, emergence, creating social spaces, as common metaphors for understanding how we inhabit forms of life.
On a practical level, as an elementary school counsellor, I "see" my role as engaging in creating "social spaces" where multiple perspectives can be coordinated, and the question of whether these perspectives are "internal" or "external" is a false dichotomy. What is a central question for me in my work is the notion of "agency" or the "perspective" that the person can act volitionally in coordination with others and in the process have a sense that they "count" or "matter". How to facilitate "opening spaces of dialogue" where the students act "agentically within contexts with others" is the framework I attempt to operate from. Dialogical theory [and "perspectival realism" and hermeneutical realism" are 3 perspectives which help ANCHOR my ides [and ideals] and when coordinated offer MAPS of how to proceed.
Here I create a dialogue among Zizek, Titanic 1997 movie, and Zakaria about their claims on history. I wonder if it is possible to talk about history without saying, “As a matter of the fact, the history is about XYZ”. What do you think?
Zakaria (2003) provides an interesting example of the dominance of the new middle class values in US society. He points out that the producers of the movie Titanic (Lieberman, Gallagher, Scott, Zeta-Jones, & Saint, 1996) had to alter the history of the tragedy because the historical reality probably did not fit the current middle class ideology of “making smart choices.” The movie depicted chaos and violence among panicked passengers of the Titanic, especially among the upper class males. However, in reality, driven probably by the upper class notion of honor, many upper class men consciously and orderly offered women and children to go to the boats first, “Benjamin Guggenheim similarly declined a seat, yielding his place to a woman, asking only that she convey a message home: ‘Tell my wife . . . I played the game out straight and to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward.’ In other words, some of the most powerful men in the world adhered to an unwritten code of honor — even though it meant certain death” (Zakaria, 2003, p. 237). Meanwhile, according to the survivors, it was among the third class where the panic spread most (Eaton & Haas, 1987). Upper class men disproportionally died in the Titanic catastrophe and were thanked by the survivors by the erection of a special monument in Washington, DC, “To the brave men of the Titanic, who gave their lives that women and children might be saved” (Zakaria, 2003, p. 238). The film producers probably decided that the real history would be seen as implausible for the modern audience.
Wow! It is great to be able to have movies! And this one is immensely interesting. What I noticed is something about Zizek's speach about Titanic. While he is describing events in the story "When exactly the catastrophy occurs?" or "What exactly is the conversation?" — he never referes to the characters in the story as the characters in the story but as Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet!! That is very interesting — because it is like a clue that he – Slavoj – is not "sucked in" but always stays outside and watches the visible (actors) and the invisible (author, director) creators communicate to him (Zizek) — always trying to guess what exactly are they trying to say to HIM (Zizek) as an audience, and how many layers that message can have.
Love the clip. even though he can't stop touching his nose.
This is really great! Not one but two movies in a dialogue. And a third dialogic (trialogic) voice of Zakaria (via Mark) — makes it really quadrilogic!
My professor Ray Birdwhistle (an anthropologist who was among the first researchers to analyze film frame by frame) once said that there are "more people in a room than there are human bodies in a room". This site reminded me of this — because there are many voices on this page, and each one of them can lead to another perspective, or another topic of discussion. So in the light of what I am investigating now (various types of agency in creative practices) i see a possibility for "more people than bodies" in various ways (none of them schizophrenic — although there is a possibility of that interpretation. But I don't want to go there). One possibility is, for instance, created here where we have: Zizek, Zakaria, Mark, and all those names mentioned as the movie producers, plus the authors Eaton & Haas, Ben Guggenheim (and all my associations to Guggenheims), Leonardo diCaprio and Kate Winslet, etc.. the list could go on just from this page.
So I wonder if this possibility – fact, in fact — is something that can make an educational occasion richer — or more distracting or both at the same time? I believe that it needs to be counted on and planned with for a good educational situation.
I want to agree that we discuss "history" as a dialogical form that uses "texts" as a metaphor for conceptualizing. I have questions about the contrasing metaphors of "speech" and "text" as historically constructed metaphors for "seeing" and "hearing" notions of reality. I have read David Olson's book "the World On Paper" and also have read Joanne Waughs ideas that "textual" notions of rationality" [which we attempt to "see" as universal" in actuality have emerged within the classical period in Greece. I know little about this framework [perspective] but it intuitively seems compelling.
I think you are raising a very important issue of whether meaning can be reduced to a text or, to put it a bit differently, whether meaning can embrace (code) meaning in its totality or not. I think that being a philologist, Bakhtin was professionally biased toward text and seeing (sic!) everything as a text ( that can be called textocentrism). Even more, text often is reduced to a narrative (narrativocentrism). However, one can also find his warning against verbalism (oral and written) to include actions and deeds in the notion of discourse. Bakhtin had strong emphasis on langauge in general (logocentrism). I think I agree with Bakhtin than humanization is about involving raw material of our events, happenings, deeds, and actions into a sort of public discourse but I'm not sure that this discourse always has to be langauge-based, text-based, and/or narrative-based. As Bakhtin pointed himself, even public speechlessness can be a powerful discoursive act as it was in Pushkin's drama "Boris Godunov" where people remained silent (in Russian literally "speechless" "народ безмолствует") when a new, and supposed to be illegitimate and murdorous, tsar assumed the Russian throne (instead of expressing their joy as they traditionally were suppossed to).
In my view, textualization of discourse — coding everything as text and even narrative — is both cultural and methodological problem. It makes anything that is not text or resist textualziation and narration to be non-exist.
It is really a very important issue — about the relationship between meaning and text. The word "text" can be used in a very flexible way, to code not only a written text (of any form like: book, article, list, letter etc), but in general the substance of any oral discourse. You say above that "even public speechlessness can be a powerful discoursive act" — and that to me indicates that the minimal condition for creating meaning is discourse — some exchange of communications between people. Obviously the speechlessness as a discoursive act — creates a text in a sense of the content of the discourse.
However, you also brought an example that is very interesting, because it shows the relational quality of meaning: it can have a form of a relation created between what is expected in a given situation and what is actually created in discourse. The "speechlessness" is nothing unless it is in a situation that would require some kind of speech, or production of verbal (conceptual, emotional, and or gestural) deed or act.
I think that the problem of coding comes out of this relational and therefore "relative" ("it depends") aspect of meaning. You cannot code every 'speechlesness' the same — they can have so many meanings. I once wrote a small section of a paper on many different meanings of the "I don't know" phrase. It really cannot be coded only as a lack of knowledge. Sometimes it is obvious, but sometimes it is not so obvious. This is why I think that coding (in our research) has to be done not on the "surface", i.e. obvious elements of text — but on the carefully interpreted readings of the whole moment in which certain discourse takes place.
This thread on textocentrism, narrativocentrism, and if there are other forms of "communication" is a topic I wonder about. Daniel Stern and V. Reddy have studied the "affective" 2nd person ENGAGEMENT of newborn babies with their care-givers that is pre-conceptual and pre-linguistic but IS COMMUNICATIVE in co-ordinating the "attunement" of self and other. ut new
Now a central question for me is the relation of this 2nd person attunment with others as the child develops language and concepts. neo-Meadian theory labels this form of attunement "a perspective" [orientation to others]. They theorize that this first process of interactivity continues to be central throughout the lifespan new "perspectives" are generated in relation to others that are dialogical, and hermeneutic. Development is the process of developing more compexity and "reflection" when language is acquired BUT is built on this earlier affective foundation.
Now I understand that how we come to "understand" and "experience " this emerging complexity and multiplicity of perspectives as we co-ordinate these multiple perspectives is transformed within dialogue. Dialogical theory is central to understanding this capacity for coordination BUT there is also a tacit level of communication [affective and oriented to others] that continues to be expressed within the diological space.
I found Zizek's position both attractive and repelling. It is very smart sociologically and surprising. But it is also totalizing and conspiratory. Yes, it is probably (i.e., based on sociological probability!) true that for the beginning of the 20th century, it was not easy for a rich young woman belonging to "the high society" to get married a working class guy. But it did happen despite the odds and low probability. Also, I strongly argue that the love story in the Titanic movie is dramatization of the giant ship's sinking — to make the event more comprehensible, entertaining, and relating to the middle class taste of people at the end of the 20th century — than the other way around, the sinking Titanic is dramatization of the very interesting love story.
Similarly, it is very bizzarre to view Soveit invassion of Czechoslavkia in 1968 as "salvation" of Dubchik's democratization in the Communist movement (i.e., his desire to create "Communism with a human face"). Although, Zizek can be right that "such animal does not exist" (I'm citing a Soviet joke) as "Communism with a human face" and without Soviet invassion, Czechslovakia might indeed transform itself into a liberal capitalist democracy (again using socioligical probability), it does not mean at all that Soveit invassion was Dubchik's savior.
In my view, Zizek might be guilty of what can be called "reverse casuality" when people see coscequences of events as their causes and even meaning. This trend may come from Hegel who declare that any reality is reasonable because for the reality to come to being it has to be rooted in necessatating causes (which, in their own turns, are unfolding into the consequences of the reality). It is historical "reverse engineering": by tracking back consequences we can come to the roots of the events. By his own accounts Zizek is Hegelean (which of course does not prove that my intepretation of him is correct but adds its penny for my evidence).
I think that this Hegelian line of thinking is faulty because 1) the reality does not necessitates in its causes — there can be many alternative realities and this one happens by chance; 2) consequences are themselves new events that do not necessarily rooted in the past reality and its causes.