more of this

In keeping with Kenneth Burke’s mission to purify war, the use of social science to shift problem-solving from violence to conversation is a welcome development.
Burke says, “language… [is] the ‘critical moment’ at which human motives take form” (from GM 318, in Kenneth Burke: Rhetoric, Subjectivity, Postmodernism by Robert Wess).
Army Enlists Anthropology in War Zones, a feature story … Read more...

no mother tongue?

“My best language is my third…”


Rhona Trauvitch complicates the usual equation that the first language learned establishes cultural ways of thought. Her spoken English rarely evinces signs indicative of a non-native user, although the trace of an accent suggests she did not learn English in the U.S. or United Kingdom.
We spoke after our professor promised to make her … Read more...

radical Chinese film director

I finally watched a movie (my only downtime this past weekend amid a grading spree!) by Wang Xiaoshuai, So Close to Paradise. The “Director’s Interview” at the end of the film explains that the film had to go through three cuts before it passed government censors. Wang’s career is well-established now, but in the 1990s he was as cutting-edge … Read more...

researching the edges

I have always felt that the action most worth watching is not at the center of things but where edges meet.

Anne Fadiman. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.
1997. (Preface, p. viii.)
The Review linked above does criticize Fadiman for overromanticizing some aspects of Hmong culture, history, and customs; what reviewer Mai Na M. Lee calls … Read more...

Democracy in Action in Burma

On September 27, several of the world’s most reputable news sources reported on events in Myanmar (what most Americans know as Burma).
The Economist: On the Brink: How Myanmar’s people rose up against its regime&emdash;and the regime rose up against its people.
The Associated Press: Myanmar Troops Kill 9 More Protesters
Today, there is evidence the brutality may have … Read more...

i think contiguously

Seriously! Roman Jakobson (Prague School Linguist, functionalist), describes a kind of aphasia that brings the distinctions between metaphoric and metonymic speech. Metaphoric speech operates by substitution – you say something, I say something about another thing that reminds me of that thing you said – it “re-fills” the same space by replacement of an equivalent. Metonymic speech jumps levels, instead … Read more...

reducing art to programming :-(

I have a mixed reaction, leaning to the negative, concerning news of a software translation program for British Sign Language. The avatars look cool, and the idea is neat, but I cannot imagine that Artificial Intelligence has suddenly improved so much that the translations represent a wide swath of potential meanings instead of a cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all reduction to dictionary … Read more...

antithesis to modernity?

{I wrote most of this right after the blogpost linked below…so much of this line of thinking is percolating concerning my prospectus, grant proposal, teaching, interpreting physics….anyway, today is the Celebration Party for the Crew and Shore Support for Shemaya’s Serenity Sail, 2007. More thoughts will follow, I’m sure!}
Just because sailing resists the dominant forces of modernity, does not … Read more...

Ethics, Oughts, Shoulds…and Deception

Andrew asked if I think it is possible (or beneficial) to achieve a full explanation of the relationship between language and consciousness, which brought me right back to tonight’s seminar and the discussion of Nietzsche’s critique of language as a tool by which we deceive ourselves (On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense).
I linked (yesterday) to … Read more...

neuroscience

A WordPress blogpost categorized under “teaching” led me to this timely piece: Charlotte Mason on neuroscience.
Who has “the explanation” for the relationship between language and consciousness, philosophers or neuroscientists? This debate has been going on for a long time; its competitiveness ~ as if one side has an answer or can determine the truth ~ bothers me. :-/… Read more...