Various Seminar Texts (5)

Alumäe, Helen, Anu Printsman & Hannes Palang 2003. Cultural and historical values in landscape planning: locals' perception. In: Hannes Palang & Gary Fry (Eds.), Landscape Interfaces: Cultural Heritage in Changing Landscapes. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 125-145.
Culture is the hidden hand of land use planning. Culture bounds the land in diverse ways. Culture marks the corners and edges of place; it selects which place will be sacred and which will be sacrificed; it yields maps of place and bestows place names... (Alumäe et al. 2003: 125)
I suspect the authors meant to write "invisible hand" (nähtamatu käsi), but either didn't know the correct economic idiom or thought their own equivalent might mean the same. This is exactly why I prefer to do my academic work in English - with translation, from historical English work to Estonian and then original creation back to English, there appear several points of selection at which a random word might interfere. For example, it's more reliable to talk about kinesics in English than to start choosing between kineesika and kineemia [what I consider an erroneous translation].
While genius loci is often comprised of the invisible heritage in the landscape - stories and legends that are known only to the people - also the outsiders can 'sense' the spirit of the place when the landscape is full of stories associated with remarkable or outstanding landscapes. The genius loci, although almost never stated by any of the locals as a familiar concept, gives scope to one's imagination, and there is a strong feeling of respect for their ancestor's life and work. The preservation of their memory was considered important even for those who are not native to the certain place. (Alumäe et al. 2003: 3)
The genius loci concept was kinda familiar from a lecture on ancient mythologies. This serves as a gentle reminder.
In planning, the so-called Soviet landscapes are the most difficult to evaluate. In our research, we asked people how they felt about the Soviet rural centers and of other elements of that time. It was obvious that people did not, yet, think of these landscapes in historical-cultural terms. The most common reaction was surprise: why would we consider that to be valuable? The settlement and land use patterns of the Soviet time were unnatural, unaesthetic, not harmonious and ecologically unfriendly (Figure 5). (Alumäe et al. 2003: 140)
I don't get this article. In the beginning it states that the authors avoided questions which would have steered the answer in a certain direction. Yet this answer implies that the authors indeed asked if they considered Soviet rural centers and other elements of that time valuable. And it remains unclear if it is the authors' opinion or the interviewees' statement that the settlement and land use patterns of the Soviet time were such and such. Even more, the Figure 8 they are referring to is not a table of the interviewee's responses or something to that effect, but a picture of a Soviet farm, which is supposed to be proof of this initself.

Bunkse, Edmunds 2004. Softly Heaves the Glassy Sea: Nature's Rhythms in an Era of Displacement. In: Tom Mels (Ed.), Reanimating Places. A Geography of Rhythms. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Company, 71-85.
The point is that it is nearly impossible for us to experience anything in nature without doing so through the prism of culture. Something in nature may indeed catch our attentnion without any prior prodding from the cultureal milieu, but there is the tendency to humanize that experience and to surround it with associations. This is true of most rhythms of nature that a human being is aware of. (Bunkse 2004: 73)
Somewhere in my mind lurks a suspicious piece of information that most of modern music is made at the speed fo about 70bpm because it is somewhat pleasant and calmind; and the reason for this pleasant and calming effect is that our hearts (or if you're a baby inside the womb then the mother's heart) beat approximately at this speed. I don't know if this is true, but it is certainly a remarkable case where a natural rhythm might be culturalized without explicit awareness of doing so.
I love the summer too, with its great freedom for the body and its fecund life, just as long as i do not have to spend it in the oppressive heat of Pennsylvania and Delaware. (Bunkse 2004: 76)
By great freedom for the body, I assume he means great freedom for attire.
I was not yet of school age when I became aware of first snow. When I awoke one morning, something had changed. Outside sounds were muffled, distant and inside everything was illuminated by surreal, soft light. When I looked out of the double-framed windows, what had been a gray, dismal autumn landscape was covered with white. (Bunkse 2004: 77)
It is inevitable that the dismal gray autumn picture staring at me from my window is soon going to change it's colours from gray and leaf yellow to black dirt and white snow.

Certeau, Michel de 1984. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press.
I chose to read the given chapter in english rather than from de Certeau, Michel 2005. Igapäevased praktikad. Tegemiskunstid. Prantsuse keeles tõlkinud Mirjam Lepikult. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus. ["VII. Jalutuskäigud linnas", pp. 150-172]. This means that the page numbers are not as reliable as they could be. Also, it seems plausible that this text was included in this course's canon because chapter 7 belongs to part 3 of the book and bears the title "Spatial Practices". That is, the (substitute?) lecturer of this course has a lot to do with the semiotics of space.
To be lifted to the summit of the World Trade Center is to be lifted out of the city's grasp. One's body is no longer clasped by the streets that turn and return it according to an anonymous law; nor is it possessed, whether as player or played, by the rumble of so many differences and by the nervousness of New York traffic. When one goes up there, he leaves behind the mass that carries off and mixes up in itself any identity of authors or spectators. (Certeau 1984: 92)
I'm not sure how the steets "turn and return" the body, but it seems true that the bodies on the street are held down - bounded - by gravity so that if one were to fly above the waters like Icarus or more contemporaneously, pendulum between the skyscrapers like Spiderman, he would experience the immense open space that goes so unused above heads of people and tops of vehicles. The streets are inhabited only a few meters off the ground; the great heights of the buildings in New York put the open space above the streets to contrast with it. If one could explore this open space, the streets would look very different indeed. Like Certeau says, "His elevation transfigures him into a voyeur. It puts him at a distance. It transforms the bewitching world by which one was "possessed" into a text that lies before one's eyes." Instead of being bounded or possessed by the noisy streets, one could see it as a view.
The ordinary practitioners of the city live "down below," below the thresholds at which visibility begins. They walk—an elementary form of this experience of the city; they are walkers, Wandersmänner, whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban "text" they write without being able to read it. These practitioners make use of spaces that cannot be seen; their knowledge of them is as blind as that of lovers in each other's arms. The paths that correspond in this intertwining, unrecognized poems in which each body is an element signed by many others, elude legibility. It is as though the practices organizing a bustling city were characterized by their blindness.' The networks of these moving, intersecting writings compose a manifold story that has neither author nor spectator, shaped out of fragments of trajectories and alterations of spaces: in relation to representations, it remains daily and indefinitely other. (Certeau 1984: 93)
Here Certeau identifies the everyday locomotion of people, or the "pedestrian dynamics" of the city, with a text. In a sense this text is composed of traces that the pedestrians inevitably leave, but which they themselves are unable to decipher of comprehend. In pedestrian dynamics, the locomotion is mapped with linear representations which can be read. I should really become more familiar with pedestrian dynamics before claiming anything further, but this seems to be correct enough.
Their story begins on ground level, with footsteps. They are myriad, but do not compose a series. They cannot be counted because each unit has a qualitative character: a style of tactile apprehension and kinesthetic appropriation. Their swarming mass is an innumerable collection of singularities. Their intertwined paths give their shape to spaces. They weave places together. In that respect, pedestrian movements form one of these "real systems whose existence in fact makes up the city."" They are not localized; it is rather they that spatialize. (Certeau 1984: 97)
If I only knew what is kinesthetic appropriation. Can you appropriate kinesthetic percepts? If only this was not a seminar text, I would call Sokal on it and be done with it. But I do have to read this and I do have to realize that in this paragraph Certeau is indeed speaking of pedestrian dynamics, and how it forms the city landscape. In the end of page 97 and beginning of 98 Certeau goes on to compare the act of walking to a speech act and makes such wild claims that I will not even dare to quote them. Aww F¤ it, there's not much interesting to quote from this anyway.
A comparison with the speech act will allow us to go further" and not limit ourselves to the critique of graphic representations alone, looking from the shores of legibility toward an inaccessible beyond. The act of walking is to the urban system what the speech act is to language or to the statements uttered. At the most elementary level, it has a triple "enunciative" function: it is a process of appropriation of the topographical system on the part of the pedestrian (just as the speaker appropriates and takes on the language); it is a spatial acting-out of the place (just as the speech act is an acoustic acting-out of language); and it implies relations among differentiated positions, that is, among pragmatic "contracts" in the form of movements (just as verbal enunciation is an "allocution," "posits another opposite" the speaker and puts con-tracts between interlocutors into action).14 It thus seems possible to give a preliminary definition of walking as a space of enunciation. (Certeau 1984: 97-98)
I don't know what to think of this yet, but I will reconsider it after familiarizing myself with pedestrian dynamics.
The long poem of walking manipulates spatial organizations, no matter how panoptic they may be: it is neither foreign to them (it can take place only within them) nor in conformity with them (it does not receive its identity from them). It creates shadows and ambiguities within them. It inserts its multitudinous references and citations into them (social models, cultural mores, personal factors). Within them it is itself the effect of successive encounters and occasions that constantly alter it and make it the other's blazon: in other words, it is like a peddler, carrying something surprising, transverse or attractive compared with the usual choice. These diverse aspects provide the basis of a rhetoric. They can even be said to define it. (Certeau 1984: 101)
Certeau is writing from an awfully inappropriate poisition for this. Walkin is a poem? I can concur with locomotive habits - or "pedestrian dynamics" - manipulating spatial organizations, but not with the "rhetoric of walking".

Lukes, Steven 2005. Power: A Radical View. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
My strategy will be to sketch three conceptual maps, which will, I hope, reveal the distinguishing features of these three views of power: that is, the view of the pluralists (which I shall call the one-dimensional view); the view of their critics (which I shall call the two-dimensional view); and a third view of power (which I shall call the three-dimensional view). (Lukes 2005: 15)
The origins of his three dimensions of power.
...it is the aim of Dahl, Polsby, Wolfinger and others to demonstrate that power (as they identify it) is, in fact, distributed pluralistically in, for instance, New Haven and, more generally, in the United States’ political system as a whole. (Lukes 2005: 16)
At this point I am unable to understand why a pluralist conception of power is false. Is power not distributed? If not so, then does it have a central nexus, a center of some sort?
In his early article ‘The Concept of Power’, Dahl describes his ‘intuitive idea of power’ as ‘something like this: A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do’ (Dahl 1957, in Bell, Edwards and Harrison Wagner (eds) 1969: 80). A little later in the same article he describes his ‘intuitive view of the power relation’ slightly diferently: it seemed, he writes, ‘to involve a successful attempt by A to get a to do something he would not otherwise do’ (ibid., p. 82). (Lukes 2005: 16)
Is Lukes implying that "getting B to do what A wants" is not a "successful attempt"? He implies that the first case is an example of potential power (for A can get B to do something), but as the second formula specifies a successful attempt, it an example of actual power. Lukes leans over backwards (or... over the word can) to disciminate "possession" and "exercise" of power.
In short, as Polsby writes, ‘In the pluralist approach . . . an attempt is made to study specific outcomes in order to determine who actually prevails in community decisionmaking’ (Polsby 1963: 113). The stress here is on the study of concrete, observable behaviour. The researcher, according to Polsby, ‘should study actual behavior, either at first hand or by reconstructing behavior from documents, informants, newspapers, and other appropriate sources’ (ibid., p. 121). Thus the pluralist methodology, in Merelman’s words, ‘studied actual behavior, stressed operational definitions, and turned up evidence. (Lukes 2005: 17)
Wait, so Lukes is accusing Dahl et al. for doing science? Isn't studying actual behaviour, or methodological individualism what Lukes (1968) was himself arguing for?
It should be noted that among pluralists, ‘power’, ‘influence’, etc., tend to be used interchangeably, on the assumption that there is a ‘primitive notion that seems to lie behind all of these concepts’ (Dahl 1957, in Bell, Edwards and Harrison Wagner (eds) 1969: 80). (Lukes 2005: 17)
Well, isn't there? Dahl seems to argue for an intuitive understanding of what power is (influence of some form or another), and Lukes himself concludes his approach with the contention that the word "power" is a language game (e.g. family resemblance et al. wittgensteinese notions). I'm kinda surprised that I enjoyed this book on first reading, now it seems like it's merely arguing over semantics.
...he [Polsby] argues that identifying ‘who prevails in decision-making’ seems ‘the best way to determine which individuals and groups have ‘‘more’’ power in social life, because direct conflict between actors presents a situation most closely approximating an experimental test of their capacities to a¡ect outcomes’ (p. 4). As this last quotation shows, it is assumed that the ‘decisions’ involve ‘direct’, i.e. actual and observable, conlict. (Lukes 2005: 18)
Okay, here, Lukes actually brings forward a valid point: power can operate without an actual and observable conflict. BUT he seems to dismiss Polsby's leeway that power (or influence and control) "can be envisaged most easily in a decision-making situation"... This does not mean that it can not be envisaged some other way; merely that this is the easy non-philosophical-actually-social-scientific approach taken by some. Instead of "who prevails in decision-making" we could easily imagine "who prevails in bringing about decisions without any actual decision-making" or something alike.
Conflict, according to that view, is assumed to be crucial in providing an experimental test of power attributions: without it the exercise of power will, it seems to be thought, fail to show up. What is the conflict between? The answer is: between preferences, that are assumed to be consciously made, exhibited in actions, and thus to be discovered by observing people’s behaviour. Furthermore, the pluralists assume that interests are to be understood as policy preferences - so that a conflict of interests is equivalent to a conflict of preferences. They are opposed to any suggestion that interests might be unarticulated or unobservable, and above all, to the idea that people might actually be mistaken about, or unaware of, their own interests. (Lukes 2005: 19)
Yet again I am left with the feeling that Lukes is arguing that governmental decision-making is not the only dimension of power, without anyone claiming that it was. The so-called "pluralists" studied explicit decision-making in which preferences were indeed conscious and aware. On a more positive note, I like the unarticulated and unobservable dimension.
Thus I conclude that this first, one-dimensional, view of power involves a focus on behaviour in the making of decisions on issues over which there is an observable conflict of (subjective) interests, seen as express policy preferences, revealed by political participation. (Lukes 2005: 19)
At least the conclusion seems clearheaded and nonpolemical.
Their [Bachrach and Baratz 1970] ‘central point’ is this: ‘to the extent that a person or group - consciously or unconsciously - creates or reinforces barriers to the public airing of policy conflicts, that person or group has power’ (p. 8)... (Lukes 2005: 20)
Their critique seems intelligible: instead of putting influence to work in decision-making, why not influece the participation in decision-making. Conveniently, conscious or unconscious creating or reinforcing barriers to what can be discussed, how, and where. Even today, demonstrators are very clearly barred from NATO (or whathaveyou) conferences. The opinions of the people don't count; only their alleged representatives' opinions do.
...Bachrach and Baratz use the term ‘power’ in two distinct senses. On the one hand, they use it in a general way to refer to all forms of successful control by A over B - that is, of A’s securing B’s compliance. Indeed, they develop a whole typology (which is of great interest) of forms of such control - forms that they see as types of power in either of its two faces. On the other hand, they label one of these types ‘power’ - namely, the securing of compliance through the threat of sanctions. In expounding their position, we can, however, easily eliminate this confusion by continuing to speak of the first sense as ‘power’, and by speaking of the second as ‘coercion’. (Lukes 2005: 21)
As we have already acknowledged, and should be clear right away - power is not necessarily coercion. Lukes gives more detailed formulas, but in general, coercion involves threat. Influence is a change in someone's course of action without threat. On another note, whethere authority is reasonable and legitimate, remains open for me - much like the statement "ambition is bad", it seems to remain debatable. I recognize that legitimate authority is a weberian notion, but I know too little about it.
In the case of force, A achieves his objectives in the face of B’s noncompliance by stripping him of the choice between compliance and noncompliance. (Lukes 2005: 22)
This is quoted from Bachrach and Baratz (1970: 28). I'm highlighting this particular form (not others) because it seems relevant for my own work. It seems that force is here not equal to brute force. Also, are we talking about potential or actual fore? Anyway, in Fahrenheit there is a scene in which Montag is almost stripped of choice between compliance and noncompliance. He is handed a flamethrower to burn his own house. He could comply or not comply - it wouldn't make any difference, as the mechanical hound is lurking about and noncompliance would mean death. It is only by accident - a chance of luck - that the mechanical hound only poisons him so far that he can still pick himself off after setting his superior on fire and being attacked by the hound. Montag goes against force, that is.
Bachrach and Baratz follow the pluralists in adopting too methodologically individualist a view of power. In this both parties follow in the steps of Max Weber, for whom power was the probability of individuals realizing their wills despite the resistance of others, whereas the power to control the agenda of politics and exclude potential issues cannot be adequately analysed unless it is seen as a function of collective forces and social arrangements. There are, in fact, two separable cases here. First, there is the phenomenon of collective action, where the policy or action of a collectivity (whether a group, e.g. a class, or an institution, e.g. a political party or an industrial corporation) is manifest, but not attributable to particular individuals’ decisions or behaviour. Second, there is the phenomenon of ‘systemic’ or organizational effects, where the mobilization of bias results, as Schattschneider put it, from the form of organization. Of course, such collectivities and organizations are made up of individuals - but the power they exercise cannot be simply conceptualized in terms of individuals’ decisions or behaviour. As Marx succinctly put it, ‘Men make their own history but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. (Lukes 2005: 26)
For me, this is currently the crux of the issue. Lukes argues that the pluralists and their critics (the first two dimensions of power) are too beaviouristic. They rely on actual behaviour of the individual. Lukes argues that their views are too deep in methodological individualism, and don't pay attention to 1) collective action, and 2) institutions (organizational effects). That is, power is social - the sole individual has to have cooperators (collective action); and it cannot be ahistorical - there are institutions, circumstances, and other organizational effects to consider.
The second reason why the insistence on actual and observable conflict will not do is simply that it is highly unsatisfactory to suppose that power is only exercised in situations of such conflict. To put the matter sharply, A may exercise power over B by getting him to do what he does not want to do, but he also exercises power over him by influencing, shaping or determining his very wants. Indeed, is it not the supreme exercise of power to get another or others to have the desires you want them to have - that is, to secure their compliance by controlling their thoughts and desires? One does not have to go to the lengths of talking about Brave New World, or the world of B. F. Skinner, to see this: thought control takes many less total and more mundane forms, through the control of information, through the mass media and through the processes of socialization. (Lukes 2005: X)
That is a valid point, and I am going to the lenghts of talking about Brave New World and other dystopic worlds, and showing how power through "the process of socialization" involves nonverbal behaviour and communication.
Second, and more important, is it not the supreme and most insidious exercise of power to prevent people, to whatever degree, from having grievances by shaping their perceptions, cognitions and preferences in such a way that they accept their role in the existing order of things, either because they can see or imagine no alternative to it, or because they see it as natural and unchangeable, or because they value it as divinely ordained and beneficial? To assume that the absence of grievance equals genuine consensus is simply to rule out the possibility of false or manipulated consensus by definitional fiat. (Lukes 2005: 28)
Without going to the lenghts of Brave New World he is indeed going to the lenghts of Brave New World, where people are conditioned to be happy with their position and not have any grievances.
And along with it there disappears the central interest of studying power relations in the first place - an interest in the (attempted or successful) securing of people’s compliance by overcoming or averting their opposition. (Lukes 2005: 34)
This I quoted already in the first reading. Now it is even more pertinent - power, in dystopic worlds, establishes social relations which secure compliance "by overcoming or averting their oppositon." It is analogous to the "ideological superstructure" which states that the way things are is perfectly fine or even the best form there is. People are subdued in happiness, thus averting any possibility of oppisition. Orgy-porgy.
What is an exercise of power? What is it to exercise power? On close inspection it turns out that the locution ‘exercise of power’ and ‘exercising power’ is problematic in at least two ways.
In the first place, it carries, in everyday usage, a doubly unfortunate connotation: it is sometimes assumed to be both individualistic and intentional, that is, it seems to carry the suggestion that the exercise of power is a matter of individuals consciously acting to a¡ect others. Some appear to feel discomfort in speaking either of groups, institutions, or collectivities ‘exercising’ power, or of individuals or collectivities doing so unconsciously. This is an interesting case of individualistic and intentional assumptions being built into our language - but that in itself provides no reason for adopting such assumptions. In what follows I propose to abandon these assumptions and to speak of the exercise of power whether by individuals or by groups, institutions, etc., and whether consciously or not. A negative justification for this revisionary usage is that there is no other available word that meets the bill (thus ‘exerting’ power is little different from ‘exercising’ it); I shall over a positive justification below. (Lukes 2005: 41-42)
Here I feel Lukes to be right on the money. In dystopic worlds, which we can observe/imagine from the outside, it seems that thre are many such "unconscious" exertions of power. Censorship is quite conscious, but accepting without any oppisition, for example, could be "unconscious".

Lash, Scott 2007. Power after Hegemony: Culture Studies in Mutation? Theory Culture Society 24(3): 55-78.
Hegemony was the concept that de facto crystallized cultural studies as a discipline. Hegemony means domination through consent as much as coercion. It has meant domination through ideology or discourse. It has meant symbolic power in the sense developed by the late Pierre Bourdieu. (Lash 2007: 55)
Domination through consent is also the almost equivalent definition of authority in weberians.
The symbolic, which is at the same time mathematical and linguistic, can relate to objects in either epistemological or ontological mode. (Lash 2007: 58)
Language is still an important stake in post-hegemonic cultural studies. But it is less a semiotic or epistemological language than some dimension of ontological language. (Lash 2007: 58)
Where pouvoir (potestas) is conceived mainly as epistemological, potentia is fully ontological. It is the motive force, the unfolding, the becoming of the thing-itself, whether that thing is human, non-human or some combination thereof. (Lash 2007: 59)
A cultural studies or a sociology that deals in the idiom of such normativity begins to lose track of the facts: of social and cultural facts. This can lead to very inaccurate description, so that we really do not get a grasp on what social forces are acting in a given time–space, but instead the state of affairs that we might (or might not) like to bring about. (Lash 2007: 62)
This is actually where I comprehend a bit and can disagree: Lash seems to be too preoccupied with idioms that he forgets that norms reveal themselves when there has been a break in the norm, a fact. Norm is not (merely) a predictive tool that shapes the worldview, it is an analytical tool to make sense of social behaviour. I'm not defending norms for my own purposes, as I have very little to actually do with them, but this is where I recognize a fault in Lash's barely intelligible text.
Facts here are such things as ‘I saw a man running from the scene of the crime. He was white, in his mid-twenties, black greasy hair, sunglasses and a “hoodie”. He was about six foot and was quite thin.’ These facts are not about the being or substance of this man. They are about his qualities, his attributes, his predicates. They are objectively described. The police and the prosecuting attorney will put together a case from a large collection of these predicates, these facts. These facts are knowledge abstracted by our perception and understanding from the being of the man-himself. (Lash 2007: 63)
This might actually be useful. For a brief moment I flirted with the idea that perhaps Foucualt's contention that the body is a surface of events which are traced by language and then dissolved by ideas might be conjoined with Peirce's firstness, secondness, and thirdness, or more hopefully with Lotman's distinction between description and identification. In this sense the man running from the scene of the crime is an event or action that has been described or traced by language and finally identified or dissolved by the idea that the man was guilty of the crime.
In the global information society, the social relation is reduced to the communication. Niklas Luhmann has most profoundly understood this. The social relation is the longer term, embedded and in proximity. The communication presumes the short term; it is disembedded (even when face-to-face) and is normally in some sense at-a-distance. The social relation operates in the logic of hegemony, in the reproduction of the symbolic. The communication occupies instead the sphere of the real. The space in excess of the symbolic. (Lash 2007: 65)
The postmodern lingo is irritating but otherwise the claim here made seems correct: global information society prefers ephemeral interactions.
Now domination is through the communication. The communication is not above us, even as disciplinary power is. It is instead among us. We swim in its ether. (Lash 2007: 66)
Once more, wtf am I reading?
Class is still with us, more than ever. Yet no longer being concentrated so much inside single nations and in concentrated places like factories, class has reconfigured, or more or less fragmented. Some global movements have attempted to remedy this, but the obstacles are major. Attention has, unhappily for social inequalities, largely turned elsewhere.
This is largely because of globalization and also informationalization. Thus technology and media have become much more central to social and cultural life. This is something that the power-as-hegemony position did not sufficiently address. (Lash 2007: 69)
Ah well here I recognize one of my own wandering thoughts: that due to informationalization the ruling class has simply become invisible. It is still there, gripping the poor of the world in poverty, just not accessible via our current media. #dystopicconsciousness
Here I have understood the symbolic, semiotics, representation, as basically epistemological and the real, intensive language, and the communication as basically ontological. Epistemology has to do with the understanding of the things we encounter, while ontology and the real have to do with the thing itself that is never encountered. The thing itself, and the real, is never encountered – it is a virtual, a generative force; it is metaphysical rather than physical. (Lash 2007: 71)
As discourse of value, cultural studies and cultural critique become pervaded by the facticity of practice; cultural studies must engage with such practice and train its students in theoretically infused hands-on work in new media, art, architecture, cultural policy and politics. In education we must engage with practitioners. In research, project-networks of practitioners and theorists will work in laboratories and studios and produce outcomes that are, at same time, also practical. These labs and studios will produce not just scholarly articles and books but also exhibitions, software, designed space, media experiments and prototypes. Classes and a more organic social body were host to what Gramsci called organic intellectuals. (Lash 2007: 75)
The "`organic intellectuals` will borne directly out of the oppressed people and who consciously ground their ideas in the struggle of the subaltern classes", explains one source. In this sens the organic intellectuals of today are the knowledgeable and critically-minded people from the internet. I am now aware that this is the second random article I've read from Theory Culture Society that ends with paying respects (not raising issues, but briefly and hopefully approaching) to the information society.

Lotman, Jurij 1977. The Structure of the Artistic Text. Translated from the Russian by Gail Lenhoff and Ronald Vroon. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ["Art as language", pp. 7-31]
Hakkasin lugema eestikeelset tõlget: Lotman, Juri 2006. Kunstilise teksti struktuur. Vene keelest tõlkinud Pärt Lias. Tallinn: Tänapäev. [lk 353-469], aga jooksin kiiresti vastu seina. Olen kaotanud võime keerulist eestikeelset teksti mõista, see lihtsalt ei seostu mitte millegagi ja ma ei saa seda kuidagi kasutada. Niisama naljaviluks ei näe ma aga mõtet seda lugeda. Võtsin asemele ainsa ingliskeelse katkendi mis internetis saadaval oli.
Art is one of the means of communication. Indisputably, it creates a bond between the sender and receiver (under certain circumstances both functions may be combines in one person, as in the case where a man conversing with himself is at once speaker and listener, but this does not alter matters). Does this give us the right to define art as a language organized in a specific manner? (Lotman 1977: 7)
It is noteworthy that already at such an early stage (Структура художественного текста was originally published in 1970) Lotman is already flirting with autocommunication. On second though I remember articles from the translated collection Kultuuritüpoloogiast (2010) wherein autocommunication was already evident in 1966 (I may be mistaken here). What is truly noteworthy is the footnote for the parenthesis: "For a classification of various types of text according to the relation of sender and receiver, see A. M. Pjatigorskij, "Nekotorye obš¢ie zame¢anija otnositel'no rassmotrenija teksta kak raznovidnosti signala," Strukturno-tipologi¢eskie issledovanija (Moscov, 1962)." That is, Pjatigorskij may have specified autocommunication already by 1962. Interesting stuff. Returning to matters at hand, Lotman defines art broadly as communication that is organized in a specific manner. In what this specificity rests, remains to be learned - I'm guessing it has something to do with the terms "discrete" and "continuous" - and I am anxious to learn it.
Every system whose end is to establish communication between two or more individuals may be defined by language (as already noted, the case of auto-communication implies that one individual functions as two). The common allegation that language implies communication in human society is not, strictly speaking, binding, for, on the one hand, linguistic communication between man and machine, and today between machines themselves, is no longer a theoretical problem but a technological reality. On the other hand, the existence of certain forms of linguistic communication between animals has also ceased to be questioned. In contrast, systems of communication inside the invidual (for example, the mechanisms of biochemical regulation or of signals transmitted through an organism's nervous system) are not languages. (Lotman 1977: 7)
The notion of "language" here is murky for me because if it is really "every system whose end is to establish communication between two or more individuals", then firstly there is barely any differentiation between langue and langage or language and language-activity, so to say; and secondly the "establishing" aspect seems to imply intentionality, which already excludes many forms of communication. To go on, the requirement of there being integral individuals is also doubtful as for example Lotman recognizes communication between machines, but actually denies comunication within machines, which is actually the working principle of computers - communication between the mother bard, (hard- or other) drives, and input controllers (keyboard, mouse). That is, Lotman's notion of communication and language are far from perfect. It is probable that in this era we may view intraindividual biochemical regulation as communication of some sort.
In this sense, we can apply the term "language" not only to Russian, French, Hindi and the like; not only to the artificially created systems of the different sciences, systems used to describe particular groups of phenomena (we call these the "artificial languages" or metalanguages of the given sciences; But also to custom, rituals, commerce, and religious concepts. In the same sense, we can speak of the "language" of the theater, cinema, painting, music, and of art as a whole, as a language orgnaized in a particular way. (Lotman 1977: 7)
That is, besides natural languages he also considers jargon or field-specific codes, e.g. metalanguages (which in other books remains an ill-defined and loosely-used term). It is clear from the way "we can speak" "in a particular way" that language is essentially a trope for Lotman: it is a figure of speech. In my own upcoming work I should make sure to specify that unless otherwise noted I understand "language" to denote that of verbal communication. I regard notions such as "body language" invalid as these don't have an "alphabet" as such.
We understand language to mean any communication system employing signs which are ordered in a particular manner. Languages viewed in this way will be distinguished: 1) from systems which do not serve as a means of communication; 2) from systems which serve as a means of communication, but do not employ signs; 3) from systems which serve as a means of communication and employ signs that are completely, or almost completely, unordered. (Lotman 1977: 8)
Well here lies the problem: nonverbal communication may not be a completely semiotic phenomenon (e.g. not employ signs) or not be ordered. Unless of course Allan Pease or other popular writers have "ordered" these signs into a coherent system.
We are referring not only to the auto-organization of man's intellect with the aid of some sign system, but also to those instances where signs invade the sphere of primary signals. A man "charms away a tootache with words." Acting upon himself with the help of words, he bears suffering or physical torment. (Lotman 1977: 8)
This is very interesting as this kind of auto-organization is very much involved with the relationship of verbal and nonverbal communication. We may not only charm away tootaches with words, but call certain behaviours to life with words, in a sort of verbal magic or mimesis. I would still remain critical to this "language as a primary semiotic system" approach and call the "language - code - text" approach which can ideally describe any phenomenon, a form of semiotic reductionism. By treating various phenomena with the "language" trope, an evident exclusion of non-sign phenomena occurs.
But there is something more important here: it is not uncommon to find the same individual acting as both the addresser and addressee of a message (in mnemonic devices, diaries, notebooks). Here information is transmitted not in space, but in time, and serves as a means for the auto-organization of the individual. We should consider this a marginal instance in the network of social communications, but for one problem: it is possible to view man in isolation as an individual, in which case the scheme of communication A → B (from addresser to addressee) will clearly predominate over the scheme A → A' (where the addresser himself is the addressee, but in a different unit of time). But one has only to make "A" stand for the concept of "national culture," for example, and the A → A' scheme of communication will be just as significant as A → B (and among cultural types the former will predominate). Let us to one step further: let "A" stand for the whole of manking. Then auto-communication will become (at least within the limits of historically real experience) the sole scheme of communication. (Lotman 1977: 9)
Firstly, Lotman indeed does exclude the spatial dimension in auto-communication. That is, auto-communicated information is transmitted in space also, as well as time, unless the addresser-addresse is confined spatially (in prison, for example). I would like auto-communication to include sending oneself an e-mail and receiving it "somewhere else"; as well as recording oneself on video and viewing it not only later but in various places. Secondly, making "A" stand for the concept of "national culture" or "the whole of mankind" is exactly the point at which semiotic holism was borne in cultural semiotics.
The third opposition sets language apart from intermediate systems such as facial movements and gestures which, on the whole, are the domain of paralinguistics. (Lotman 1977: 9)
Welp, at least Lotman acknowledges facial expressions and hand gestures, as "intermediate systems" (supplementary systems, perhaps?), but I'm sorry to say that in no way do facial expressions and hand gestures belong to the domain of paralinguistics. I think he merely made the convenient identification of paralanguage and kinesics - convenient in the sense that jury is still out whether кинетического коммуникация is the equivalent of kinesics.
The concept of "language" as proposed above will encompas [...] secondary languages (secondary modeling systems) - communication structures built as superstructures upon a natural linguistic plane (myth and religion, for example). Art is a secondary modeling system. We should understand the phrase "secondary in relation to language" to mean more than "using natural language as material;" if the phrase had such implications, the inclusion of nonverbal arts (painting, music, and others) would be clearly impermissible. The relationship here is mode complex: natural language is not only one of the earliest, but also the most powerful system of communication in the human collective. (Lotman 1977: 9)
I think Sebeok argued against language being the earliest system of communication, but it may very well be the most powerful.
Inasmuch as man's consciousness is a linguistic consciousness, all types of models erected as superstructures on that consciousness - and art among them - can be defined as secondary modeling systems. (Lotman 1977: 9-10)
That is, Lotman's view of man was of a homo loquens.
In examining the nature of semiotic structures, we observe that the complexity of a structure is directly proportional to the complexity of the information transmitted. As the nature of the information grows more complicated, the semiotic system used to transmit that information grows more complicated. (Lotman 1977: 10)
I can use this idea as a form of apology: studying the relationship of nonverbal communication and power is so complicated because the nature of "silent and insidious, insistent and insinuating" forms of power are very complicated.
Tolstoj was unusually perceptive in his observation that artistic thought is realized through the process of "linkage" - through structure - and does not exist outside this structure; the artist's idea is realized in his model of reality. (Lotman 1977: 11)
This makes me wonder if the "cluster" approach in popular body language literature is somewhat similar: to make out the "meaning of a gesture", for example, one has to view several behaviours in a cluster (in linkage, in a structure). The analogy is weak, but imaginable.
An idea is not contained in any quotation, een in one felicitously chosen, but is expressed in the whole artistic structure. (Lotman 1977: 12)
Yup. It seems to me that while I try to commend on so many quotes it may seem that I'm doing this for fun or just because. In fact this whole blog with its countless quotes and comments constitutes a "whole artistic structure" so to say; an eclectic statement on nonverbalism. With any luck these quotes will not only be the base for my academic works but enable me one day to write a comprehensive monograph on nonverbalism.
[footnote] 10 Cf. "Since a language consists of rules or norms, it is, in contrast to speech, a system or rather a number of systems," (N. S. Trubetzkoy, Osnovy fonologii [Moscow, 1960] p.9); and "A code consists of an alphabet plus a system of fixed constraints," (Goldman, op. cit., p. 21). (Lotman 1977: 13)
I'm wondering if I should take a look at Stanford Goldman's Information theory one day (available for in-library use at the institute of physics).
The language of a work of art is that certain given which exists before the creation of a concrete text, and is identical at both poles of communication (later we will qualify this proposition). The message is the information which arises in a given text. If we take a large group of functionally similar texts and view them as variants of one invariant text, removing everything that is "extra-systemic" from our point of view, we arrive at a structural description of the language of the group of texts. (Lotman 1977: 15)
This made me think of how I'm actually analysing nonverbal communication in the three most influential dystipic fictions. If I do remove everything "extra-systemic" from the point of view of nonverbalism and analyze the remaining pieces as an invariant structure, I'm in fact coming close to the "dystopic consciousness" or "dystopic behaviour" which separates it from (the content of) every other kind of text.
On the other hand, the tendency to interpret everything in an artistic text as meaningful is so great that we rightfully consider nothing accidental in a work of art. And we will turn again and again to Roman Jakobson's profoundly substantiated assertion on the artistic significance of grammatical forms in a poetic text, as well as to other examples in art where a text's formal elements are semanticized. (Lotman 1977: 17)
I imagine this to happen often with video recordings of bodily behaviour: in slow motion, almost every micromovement is taken note of and at least tried to be semanticized.
If we set ourselves this task we must naturally provide a communicative system - a language - for each one of these groups, and then for all three together. If we describe these systems in the Russian language, then Russian will be the metalanguage of description (we will disregard the inaccuracy of such a description since the modeling influence of the metalanguage on its objects is inevitable). But the very language being described, the "language of Romanticism" (or any of its particular sublanguages which correspond to the three groups), cannot be identified with any natural language because it is also suitable for describing nonverbal texts. At the same time, a model of the language of Romanticism derived in this way will also be applicable to literary works and will, on a certain plane, be able to describe the system by which they are constituted (that is on the plane common to verbal and nonverbal texts). (Lotman 1977: 20-21)
Relevant for the first mention and usage of the notion of "nonverbal text". Among earlier-mentioned "nonverbal arts" I could add performance art. That is, a bodily performance is a nonverbal text par excellence.
To say that literature has its own language, one which does not coincide with its natural language but is superimposed on that language, is merely another way of saying that literature possesses an exclusive, inherent system of signs and rules governing their combination which serve to transmit special messages, nontransmittable by other means. (Lotman 1977: 21)
Very eloquently said. I wonder if this can applied to performance art.
For the medieval thinker, the universe is not a sum of essences, but an essence; not a phrase, but a word. But this word is a hierarchy of separate words, enclosed, as it were, within each other. Truth does not lie in quantitative accumulation, but in profundity (one should not read many books or many words, but should try to grasp the meaning of one word; not accumulate more knowledge, but try to interpret the old). (Lotman 1977: 23)
Currently I am doing exactly the oppsoite, accumulating as much and as fast as possible so that when time comes I can re-read these notes and go deeper, interpret what I have found. define:profundity - "Deep insight; great depth of knowledge or thought." or "Great depth or intensity of a state, quality, or emotion." What Lotman is talking about here, actually, is the matreški metaphor, or "Matryoshka doll" trope. Also, note that Lotman's discussion on redundancy refers to H. A. Gleason, Jr.'s An introduction to descriptive linguistics, Chapter 19 (a 1966 print is available in the UTLIB stacks).


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