Jakobson-Pomorska Dialogues

Halle, Morris 1983 [1980]. Foreword. In: Jakobson, Roman & Krystyna Pomorska, Dialogues. Translated by Christian Hubert. Cambridge: The MIT Press, vii-xii.

During the Second World War, Jakobson organized in New York a project for the study of the Igor Tale, a twelfth-century Russian epic poem, which A. Mazon of the College de France had declared a seventeenth- or eighteenth-century forgery. The collective work of the Igor Tale published in 1948 not only fully established the authenticity of the poem, but also provided a completely new perspective on the history, the culture, and the literature of medieval Russia. (Halle 1983 [1980]: ix)
Jakobson's antics! I couldn't find the collective work, but I did find a paper dedicated to B. A. Uspenski in Russian Linguistics about a sexual motif in the Igor Tale.

Jakobson, Roman & Krystyna Pomorska 1983 [1980]. Dialogues. Translated by Christian Hubert. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

There is an inevitable distance between two interlocutors, which varies depending on the person addressed by the discourse. Our linguistic means must change according to whether our dialogue is limited to our family, our neighbours, or people who come from another part of town or another region of the country. Of course, social and cultural distances must be taken into account in addition to purely spatial differences. In other words, what we encounter here is a complex of questions of geographic and social dialectology. (Jakobson & Pomorska 1983 [1980]: 79)
This is also evident in non-linguistic affairs, especially in relation to behaviour patterns. This, let's call it, (socio-)semiotic distance is in my opinion at fault for countless misunderstandings and even ("intercultural") violence. The man who gets maced (pepper-sprayed) because he misinterpreted a random finger movement by another customer as a gesture to "go ahead" at the store counter is an extreme example, but not the most extreme.
Only a narrow dogmatism can artificially separate the stylistic canons from the linguistic code: in reality, these canons are an integral part of the code. (Jakobson & Pomorska 1983 [1980]: 80)
This is helpful, for I cannot (yet?) decide whether the imagery I'm studying is a stylistic canon (of impressionism, for example), or an integral part of Estonian language.
Upon tracing the history of the phonic and grammatical modifications of different languages, I became increasingly convinced of the necessity of constantly combining two opposite forces: the tendency to maintain an equilibrium and the tendency to destroy it. This is the essence of the self-motion of language. (Jakobson & Pomorska 1983 [1980]: 83)
Unsurprisingly these tendencies are viewed in Lotman's semiotics as aspects of culture.
In the Russian intelligentsia of my generation, for example, people pass easily from Russian to French and back in conversation among coevals. They sometimes include French phrases in their Russian utterances, and sometimes insert Russian words and expressions when speaking French. Gallicisms were perfectly natural in the colloquial language of Russian from the period described by Tolstoj in War and Peace until the recent past. For the characters in that historical novel, French was not a foreign language. It was just one style among many of Russian speech. (Jakobson & Pomorska 1983 [1980]: 86)
The situation is somewhat similar between English and Estonian in Estonia. But it's probably like that in countless countries all over the word.
In contradiction to these two types of signs [icons and indexes], Peirce delimited a third: the "symbol," which is based not on an actual relation between signans and signatum, but on a prescribed, conventional, and learned relation between them. In Peirce's terminology, the symbol relates the signans to the signatum by virtue of a prescribed and conventional contiguity between these two entities. (Jakobson & Pomorska 1983 [1980]: 91)
And artifice or parallelism relates signans to signatum based on a prescribed and conventional similarity.
Thus I was able once again to convince myself of the correctness of Lev Vladimirovich Shchreba's idea that philology is factually the science of slow and repeated reading. (Jakobson & Pomorska 1983 [1980]: 108)
Ain't that the truth.
Semantic comparisons applicable in a given parallelistic system furnish a key not only for understanding the semantic turn of the language in question, but also for comprehending the particularities of the linguistic thought of the community, although great caution must certainly be observed when drawing inferences about thought from the facts of language. (Jakobson & Pomorska 1983 [1980]: 109)
Another worthwhile note to keep in mind when studying "mentality" on the basis of literature.
As without light there can be no joy -
For while the eye sees all of God's creation,
Still what is seen without light lacks beauty -
So it is with every soul lacking letters [...] (Jakobson & Pomorska 1983 [1980]: 154)
Relevant for my interests. Source: Constantine's prologue to his translation of the four gospels.

Pomorska, Krystyna 1983 [1980]. Afterword. In: Jakobson, Roman & Krystyna Pomorska, Dialogues. Translated by Christian Hubert. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 159-183.

Roman Jakobson often referred to his memories of Majakovskij, and he told me once that the poet "did not like what the English call 'small talk,' which was only gossip for him. In general, he would either gamble or write verse." This recollection enables us to understand all that Majakovskij wrote in his works, which are fundamentally "anti-quotidian." He had a morbid aversion to the banality of the everyday, to that odious cliche conveyed in the untranslatable Russian term byt. (Pomorska 1983 [1980]: 167)
I think one could even compile a list of 'serious' people who dislike small talk. I believe the list would be lengthy indeed.
Malevich's letter coincides with the very style of Jakobson's letters. These messages all have the character of a free notation of thoughts on art, which is apparent even in their graphical form: the long text is broken down into fragments separated not by paragraphs but by asterisks. Roman Jakobson said that his letters to Kruchenykh and Khlebnikov made use of ideas he had progressively jotted down after slow walks around the Polytechnic Museum of Moscow in the evenings after school. During these walks he would reflect upon poetry and poetic language, and upon returning home he would write his thoughts in little black notebooks. This sort of correspondence, which aimed at a veritable intellectual exchange, is characteristic of that period, and of the men of the Russian avant-garde in particular. (Pomorska 1983 [1980]: 173)
Come springtime I must try out this practice.
He would dramatize his poem "Vesna s dvumja priglašenijami" ("A spring with two invitations") with all sorts of sound effects: he would stamp his foot or strike rhythmic blows with the chair he was holding onto during the recitation. The back of the chair would serve him sometimes as a tribunal bannister, sometimes as an instrument for his sound effects, sometimes as protection against the public. ... The last time we heard him, in about 1967, he was reading wit ha somewhat less booming voice but still quite well, and with a particularly bizarre sound device: "the chandelier! It has fallen on the bald head of the old nobleman!" He would scream out the first word while covering his mouth with his hand in order to direct his voice toward the ceiling, toward a real chandelier that would begin to tremble and resonate. (Pomorska 1983 [1980]: 175)
Kruchenvkh's nonverbal/strepitative elements or dramatizations in poetry recital. The latter bit with the chandelier is especially clever.
Roman Jakobson, Russian by origin, was one of the most gifted Slavists and Bohemists, an unusual man both in appearance and in nature. A powerful man, with a rather large head, thick blond hair, and the face of a Raman god, he squinted in one eye. But he was not one to be bothered by such a troublesome defect. He overflowed with vitality, spoke with passion, and gestured with spirit. ...
(Vančura's widow in Pomorska 1983 [1980]: 177)
Mitte kissitav silm vaid kõõrdis silm. Mul on sel teemal üles korjatud tsitaat mida ma hetkel ei leia. Midagi sellist, et tähtis pole mitte see kas inimesel on defekt, vaid see, kas ta laseb ennast ja seeläbi teisi sellest kõigutada.


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