Reading Mukařovský

Mukařovský, Jan 1976[1936]. Art as Semiotic Fact. In: Matejka, Ladislav and Irwin R. Titunik (eds.), Semiotics of Art: Prague School contributions. Cambridge: MIT Press, 3-9.

It becomes increasingly evident that the basic constitution of the individual consciousness, even at its innermost levels, derives from content belonging to the collective consciosuness. As a consequence, crucial importance accrues to problems of sign and meaning, seeing that any mental content that exceeds the bounds of the individual consciousness acquires the character of a sign by the very fact of its communicability. The science of signs (called semiology by Saussure, sematology by Bühler, semiotic by Peirce) needs to be elaborated to its fullest extent. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 3)
This doesn't seem to negate the mental content that doesn't exceed the bounds of the individual consciousness and does not acquire the character of a communicable sign. That is, I can still reserve the notion of personal or private sign.
In fact, all sciences known as humanities (sciences morales, Geistwissenschaft) deal with phenomena that have the more or less pronounced character of signs due to their double existence both in the world of sense perception and in the collective consciousness. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 3)
Compare this to Mamardašvili's and Pjatigorski's notion of symbol, one end of which is in the world of things (sense perception) and the other end within consciousness.
Clealy, every state of the subjective consciousness involves something individual and momentary that makes it impossible to grasp and communicate in its entirety, whereas the work of art is meant expressly to serve as an intermediary between its creator and the community. Moreover, there is always some "thing," some "artifact," that represents the work of art in the outside world and may be perceived by one and all. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 3)
The work of art here serves as a means of communication. Compare this to Lotman, for whom art does the same, and to Langer, who opposes the communication paradigm (on pretty good reasons, by the way).
The artifact, thus, functions merely as an external signifier ("signifiant" in Saussure's terminology) for which in the collective consciousness there is a corresponding signification (often labeled "aesthetic object") given by what is common to subjective states of mind aroused in individuals of any particular community by the artifact. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 4)
But doesn't this mean that the "aesthetic object" is infinitely malleable? We know that aesthetic reception is pluralistic and unpredictable, but Mukařovský apparently didn't think so. He saw it as a form of communication with a specific content - the signification - that is part of collective consciousness.
Concluding these brief general remarks, we must also mention that by denying the identification of a work of art with any subjective mental state we also, at the same time, reject any hedonist theory af aesthetics. The feeling of pleasure aroused by the work of art can at best achieve indirect objectification as a potential "accessory signification"; to assert that it necessarily forms part of the perception of any work of art would be a mistake. Though the evolution of art exhibits periods that do strive to arouse pleasure, still it also exhibits periods that regard pleasure with indifference or even aim at its contrary. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 4)
Contemporary Estonian poetry (the so-called "poetry of young women") is unaesthetic in this sense (I would call in unpoetic poetry).
According to its current definition, a sign is a reality perceivable by sense perception that has a relationship with another reality which the first reality is meant to evake. Thus, we are obliged to pose the question as to what the second reality, for which the work of art stands, might be. True, we could merely assert that the work of art is an autonomous sign characterized solely by the fact of its serving as an intermediary among members of any one community. However, to do so would mean to put aside unresolved the question of the contact of a work of art with the reality it refers to. If signs not relating to any distinct reality are possible, still a sign always does refer to something by simple consequence of the fact that a sign must be understood the same way by both sender and receiver. Only, for autonomous signs, that "something" is not determined distinctly. What, then, is the indistinct reality to which the work of art refers? It is the total context of all phenomena that may be called social, for example, philosophy, politics, religion, economics, and so on. It is for that reason that art, more than any other social phenomenon, has the power to characterize and represent the "age." It is also the reason why for so long a time the history of art has been confused with the history of culture in the broad sense of the word and, vice versa, why general history has seen fit to borrow the peripeteiae of art history for the mutual delimitation of its own periods. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 5)
There are several important points here. (1) "a reality perceivable" is the signifier and "an evoked reality" is the signified. This is how Mukařovský defines the renvoi or standing for aspect of art (understood semiotically). (2) Art as an autonomous sign would exclude reference, and indeed there are forms of art that do so. (3) Mukařovský relates the problem of reference to the problem of code. (4) Since art is a product of its social, philosophical, political, religious, economic, cultural, aesthetic, theoretical, symbolic etc context, a work of art characterizes and represents its "age".
One other explanatory remark must be added here to preclude all possible misunderstanding: in saying that the work of art refers to the context of social phenomena, we by no means assert thereby that the work necessarily coincides with that context in the sense that, without further ado, it can be taken as direct evidence or passive reflection. As is true of any sign, the work of art can have an indirect relationship with the thing signified (for example, a metaphoric or other kind of oblique relationship) without ceasing on that account to refer to it. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 5)
Indirect reference is a good heading for both metaphor and metonymy.
To summarize the main points of our argument thus far, we may say that the objective study of the phenomenon "art" must regard the work of art as a sign composed of (1) a perceivable signifier, created by the artist, (2) a "signification" /= aesthetic object/ registered in thecollective consciousness and (3) a relationship with that which is signified, a relationship which refers to the total context of social phenomena. In the second of these constituents lies the structure proper of the work. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 6)
What we have here is almost like a Peircean model of the sign: (1) a representamen; (2) an object; and (3) an interpretant. When compared to Lotman and his "P(O)=I" formula one could probably make a connection between code, reference, interpretants, etc.
We have not, however, exhausted the problems of the semiotic of art. Besides its function as autonomous sign, the work of art has another function, that of informational sign. Thus, a poetic work, for instance, functions not only as a work of art but also, simultaneously, as an "utterance" expressing a state of mind, an idea, an emotion, etc. In certain of the arts this informational function is very evident (poetry, painting, sculpture), while in others it is veiled (dance) or even invisible (music, architecture). (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 6)
Here one could very well draw a connection between Jakobson's emotive or expressive function and Mukařovský's informational function. Indeed this is exactly the aspect that in my opinion gets lost in Jakobson's model. Jakobson reduces all communication to reference and context, while here the informational aspect is much broader. Actually, I think this is what Jakobson may have reffered to as "'cognitive' function".
If we were to be precise, we would have to say that it is once again the entire structure which functions as the signification of a work of art, the informational signification included. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 6)
In Jakobson's schema, similarly, we would have to consider "the entire structure which functions as" communication. That is, all functions of language should be considered to arrive at a concise statement on the dominant and subordinate functions of a given communication.
The work of art, then, has a two-fold semiotic function, autonomous and informational, the latter being reserved especially for the representational arts. Hence, the dialectical antinomy between the autonomous and informational functions of sign can be seen operating to greater or lesser effect in the evolution of these rats. The history of prose fiction supplies particularly typical examples. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 7)
This seems to be the passage that Gandelman quoted in and translated from french. Now I would say that Jakobson did indeed consider the informational (in his sense referential) and autonomous (in his sense poetic) functions, but his aims were different, because he was not studying visual signs (or signs in art in general) but language (or verbal art in particular).
Complications of an even more intricate type arise, however, once we pose the question of the relationship of art to thing signified from the informational point of view. This relationship is different from the one that connects art, in its capacity as autonomous sign, with the total context of social phenomena, since art as informational sign refers to some distinct reality, for example, a particular event, a certain person, and so forth. In this respect art resembles signs that are purely informational. Only - and the qualification points to the essential differences - the informational relationship between the work of art and the thing signified does not have existential value, even when such is asserted. In regard to the subject of a work of art, no question as to its documentary authenticity can be postulated as long as the work is held to be a product of art. This does not mean that modifications of the relationship to thing signified are without importance for a work of art; they function as factors of its structure. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 7)
This is exactly what some people mean when they talk about Jakobson's poetic function. It is sometimes confused (by Ricoeur, for example) with something like a poietic ("creative") function.
For the structure of any given work it is very important to know whether it treats its subject as a "real" (perhaps even documentary) one or a "fictitious" one or whether it oscillates between these two poles. Indeed, works may be found which are based on a parallelism and counterbalance of a two-fold relationship to a distinct reality, in one instance without existential value and in the other purely informational. Such is the case, for example, of portrait painting or sculpture that is at one and the same time information about the person depicted and a work of art devoid of existential value. In literature, the same duality characterizes the historical novel and the fictionalized biography. Modifications of the relationship to reality do, therefore, play an important role in the structure of any art working with a subject, but the theoretical investigation of these arts must never lose sight of the true essence of the subject which is to be a unity of meaning and not a passive copy of reality even in the case of a "realistic" or "naturalistic" work. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 7)
This is a very typical problem for art and literature. It is nevertheless relevant to note that these "modifications" are often quite interesting.
Only the semiotic point of view allows theorists to recognize the autonomous existence and essential dynamism of artistic structure and to understand evolution of art as an immanent process but one in constant dialectical relationship with the evolution of other domains of culture. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 8)
This sounds like a reflection on Jakobson and Tynyanov's "Theses" of 1928.
The work of art bears the character of a sign. It can be identified neither with the individual state of consciousness of its creator nor with any such states in its perceiver nor with the work as artifact. The work of art exists as an "aesthetic object" located in the consciousness of an entire community. The perceivable artifact is merely, by relation with this immaterial aesthetic object, its outward signifier; individual states of consciousness induced by the artifact represent the aesthetic object only in terms of what they all have in common. (Mukařovský 1976[1936]: 8-9)
Now that I think about it, this has a lot in common with Bayard's How to talk about books you haven't read.

Mukařovský, Jan 1976[1938]. Poetic Reference. In: Matejka, Ladislav and Irwin R. Titunik (eds.), Semiotics of Art: Prague School contributions. Cambridge: MIT Press, 155-163.

The aim of this paper is to differentiate poetic reference from other types of reference. By this term we mean every reference appearing in a text which has a dominant aesthetic function. This, we do not mean only figurative references, for figurative reference not infrequently goes beyond the limits of poetry, appearing in informational language as well, and not only in the form of petrified images, but also as any newly created image (for example, an emotional image). On the other hand, not every poetic reference is figurative: there have existed poetic schools that deliberately set out to keep the use of images to a minimum. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 155)
How is poetic reference different from other types of reference? I presume figurative reference is something like metaphor and/or metonymy.
We must, therefore, continue to seek the specific quality of poetic reference. As our point of departure we will take any locution, preferably one which, owing to the neutrality of its semantic coloration, can be understood both as a part of an informational utterance and as an extract from some poetic text. Such, for example, is the sentence, "It's turning dark," which we spontaneously perceive as a piece of information, but which, with a change in semantic direction, we can quite easily interpret as a poetic citation from a hypothetical text. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 155)
I believe this latter type of reference is called allusion. Poetry does indeed seem to be full of such references. (The same goes for prose texts, for that matter. Cf. intertextuality.)
Our attitude toward the statement in question changes completely, however, the moment we take it as a poetic citation. At once its relationship to the surrounding context, even though hypothetical, becomes the center of attention. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 156)
Of course discussion of reference cannot do without using the notion of context. This also points to an unnoticed aspect in Jakobson's schema: that the referential function of language may thought of as something like the citational function of language.
Poetic reference is primarily determined, then, not by its relationship to the reality indicated, but by the way it is set into the verbal context. This explains the well-knows fact that a word, or a group of words, characteristic of a certain prominent poetic work, is transferred from its own context to another one, a discursive context, for instance, carries with it the semantic atmosphere of the work in which it participated and with which it is associated in the linguistic consciousness of the community. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 156)
Here reference carries more like Gehring's contextual function than Jakobson's. That is, "the linguistic consciousness of the community" can be viewed as a single huge corpus of texts, as a universe of discourse.
Thus, in poetry, as against informational language, there is a reversal in the hierarchy of relations: in the latter attention is focussed above all on the relation, important from the practical point of view, between reference and reality, whereas for the former it is the relationship between the reference and the context incorporating it that stands to the fore. This is not to say that informational reference is absolutely exempt from any effect of the context or that, on the other hand, poetic reference is excluded from any contact with reality. All that is involved is a shift, so to speak, in the center of gravity. As for poetic reference, the weakening of its immediate relationship with reality makes of it an artistic device. That means that the poetic reference is not evaluated in terms of an extralinguistic mission but with relation to the role imposed upon it in the organization of the work's semantic unity. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 157)
Reference and context in Jakobson's scheme are usually understood in their relation to extralinguistic reality, but here it even transcends the immediate verbal context and takes on a greater synfunction. I think it must be recognized, in the final analysis, that when Jakobson discusses the orientation towards the context as "briefly, the so-called REFERENTIAL, "denotative", "cognitive" function", then the denotative function can be viewed as extralinguistic reference and cognitive as either informational function or as poetic reference in Mukařovský's sense.
According to Bühler, there are three functions inherent in the very nature of language, which are: representation (Darstellung), expression (Ausdruck), and appeal (Appell). (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 157)
I wonder if these could be viewed in light of Anton Marty's division of autosemantic signs into: emotives (here expression), assertions (here appeal) and Vorstellungsuggestive's, i.e. nouns (here representations). Probably not, but it would be nice if this intersection would be tried out. Something new might emerge.
Each of these functions consists in an active relation between the linguistic sign and one of three extralinguistic factors necessarily present in any act of discourse. These factors are: the reality indicated by the sign, the person who sends the message, and the person who receives it. As long as we have informational language in mind, Bühler's model is perfectly applicable. Thanks to it, we are easily able to distinguish traces of the three basic functions in any informational discourse, often with one of these functions predominating over the other two. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 157)
Oh my god. It has never struck me before, but the relation between the components and functions in Jakobson's schema consist in exactly this kind of active relation: the components themselves mostly are nonverbal or at least neutral (addresser and addressee are people, the message and code/language are linguistic, but context/situation and channel are nonverbal). !!! And moreover, we know from Waugh and Monville-Burston that Jakobson started out with exactly these four components and factors: Bühler's and Mukařovský's! The other two components and functions came after Jakobson was acquainted with communication theory and they play a much lesser role. Maybe it would be useful, as an experiment, to discard the latest additions and figure out how Jakobson came to divorce the additional components and factors (such as code) from the existing ones (such as reference).
Once we turn to poetic language, the situation becomes quite different. It is not that traces of the three functions enumerated above cannot also be detected here, but rather that here the foreground is occupied by a fourth function unaccounted for by the model in question. This function stands in opposition to all the others: whereas the latter are oriented toward factors external to language and toward aims reaching beyond the linguistic sign, this new, fourth, function puts the linguistic sign itself at the center of attention. The first three functions thus make language enter into connections of a practical order; the fourth detaches language from such connections. Or to put it another way: the first three functions belong to the set of practical functions; the fourth is the aesthetic function. The focus of the aesthetic function on the sign itsef thus comes about as a direct consequence of the autonomy belonging to aesthetic phenomena. This aesthetic function is something new we have already encountered along the way of our analysis of the relationship of reference to reality. If, in a poetic text, the relation of the reference with the context surrounding it occupies the foreground to the detriment of the relation with thing signified, then this displacement of semantic values is something the language of poetry owes to aesthetic function. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 157-158)
This is exactly what Jakobson does: he puts language at the center of attention and discards the informational function as perhaps too self-evident (with the relation between siganans and signatum, why need it?). It also verifies my hunch that the autonomy of art is related to the poetic function. Compare all this to Jakobson's assertion that phonemic equivalences create an autonomous semantic structure within the poem. The "focus ... on the sign itself" in this sense is not indeed about the sign itself, but rather about it's "poetic reference", which here can be understood as other poems in the collective consciousness, but in Jakobson as parallelisms even within the same poem. So much is beginning to unravel!
Abuse is a necessary, often times even salutory, opposition to normal usage with respect to anything; indeed, it is thanks only to abuse that the world of functions is able to evolve - abuse is often only a means of trying out, whether consciously or unconsciously, a new, previously unknown way of using something. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 158)
A nice addition to Daniele Monticelli's suggestion to "use and abuse Lotman".
The boundary separating the aesthetic function from practical functions is not always apparent, and, in particular, it does not coincide with the dividing line between art and other human activities. Even in a fully autonomous artistic expression, practical functions - in our case the three previously mentioned linguistic functions - are not entirely suppressed, so that every poetic work is at least potentially also a representation, an expression, and an appeal. Indeed, these practical functions often assert themselves rather extensively in work of art - for example, the representative function in a novel, the expressive in a lyric poem. And vice versa, no practical activity is doomed never to have any aesthetic function; one might well claim that that function is at least potentially involved in every human act. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 158)
This is very much in line with Jakobson's suggestion that "The poetic function is not the sole function of verbal art but only its dominant, determining function, whereas in all other verbal activities it acts as a subsidiary, accessory constituent" (1958, SW III, pp. 25).
Thus, even in the most ordinary speech, aesthetic function can be awakened by any procedure giving prominence to semantic relationships that organize context. Any heightened concurrence or opposition of sense, any striking phonetic similarity, any unexpected inversion of word order, or the like, is capable of causing vibrations of aesthetic pleasure. The potential aesthetic function is so powerful that it is often necessary, when preparing an intellectual text of purely infomational character to revise it so as to remove the slightest suggestions of deformation in semantic relationships lest it attract the attention of the reader. The aesthetic function, thus, is omnipresent. Therefore, even linguistics cannot deny it a place among the basic functions of language. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 159)
It feels as if "context" in this context (hah), refers to the synfunction, that is, the context of the given text. Mukařovský's remarks on phonetic siminality and unexpected inversions of word order are elaborated by Jakobson as onomatopoeia and parallelism (inversion or asymmetry is a form of parallelism, in biblical and folkloric context even the most prominent one).
However, there is still another objection that linguists might raise against our thesis by declaring that, even if one does recognize its import, still the aesthetic function cannot be included among linguistic functions on a par with the other three because it is a function not limited to language. To this we need only respond that aesthetic function, by virtue of its being the dialectical negation of any practical function, always and everywhere takes on the character of the function to which it is opposed in any given case; as the negation of linguistic functions, it becomes linguistic itself. Moreover, the role of the aesthetic function plays in the evolution of language and of language culture is a very considerable one, even if we do not follow the example of the Vossler school in exaggerating it; so, for example, lexical innovations, in order to enter into common use, quite often assume an aesthetic aspect. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 159)
Here we have the "dialectical negation" that Gandelman discussed so thoroughly, even if misguidedly. I think Jakobson was so much inspired by the conflation of Mukařovský's aesthetic function as poetic reference that he neglected the other linguistic functions. It did indeed become linguistic itself. As a sidenote, I'll note that in case of Peirce's ethics of terminology, sometimes lexical innovations enter into common usage and hold on to their terminological exactitude by assuming an unaesthetic aspect.
One final possible misunderstanding remains to be dispelled: theories demonstrating the predominantly emotional character of poetic language (Ch. Bally) seemingly argue against us. It is of course true that there is considerable external similarity between poetic language and emotional language. Both of them, in contrast to intellectual language (where the representative function predominates), have a pronounced tendency to emphasize the person of the author, the sender of the message. In intellectual language, the stronger the intellectual factor, the more the influence of the author's person on the choice of reference is supposed. The ideal goal would be the absolute elimination of that influence and the creation of a definitive bond between the reference and the reality denoted which would be independent alike of the person making the reference and of the context. That is the reason why in science the signification of terms is fixed by definition once and for all. Emotional reference and poetic reference, on the contrary, make the factor of choice stand out and thereby render palpable the very act of reference performed by the author-addresser. In both cases there is a tendency to give rise to the feeling that the reference chosen is only one among other possibilities; behind the actual reference one is always made to sense the potential presence of the entire lexical system of the language in question. Such is the case above all with figurative references in both these two languages, poetic and emotional. Buth the resemblances we have drawn between them are counterbalances by decisive differences. In emotional language, reference is seen in terms of its relation to the addresser's state of mind: one tries to discern whether the feelings expressed are sincere, what the import of implied volitional elements is, and so on. In poetic language, on the contrary, attention remains once again focused on the sign itself; evaluation in terms of a relation to the state of mind of the author-addresser either becomes secondary or does not come into question at all. With the loss of its import in reality, an expression of feelings becomes an artistic device. Poetic reference, which is subjective as against intellectual reference, takes on an objective character in comparison with emotional reference. Here, once again, we have established that, from whatever side you approach poetic reference, you always find yourself back with the sign itself. The aesthetic function, which is the cause of this return of discourse activity back upon itself, has throughout our analysis shown itself to be an omnipresent dialectical negation of the three basic functions of language and, thereby, also a necessary supplement to Bütler's model. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 159-160)
Several points: (1) Emotional language has a tendency to emphasize the addresser/sender. Intellectual language is not as "individual" and chooses words that can be easily understood by the community; (2) That emotional and poetic reference make the factor of choice (of words) stand out is very much related to Jakobson's definition of the poetic function as the projection of the principle of equivalence from the axis of selection to the axis of combination; (3) The aspect of sincereness and volition is addressed by Jakobson in his definition of the emotive function: it "tends to produce an impression of a certain emotion, whether true or feigned" (I'm still not sure how this very aspect relates to Marty); and (4) when Jakobson talks of the poetic function as "the focus on the message for its own sake" what he means here is that poetic reference negates Bühler's three components; poetry cannot be understood as a practical communication: it is exactly as poetry that it must be received/decoded.
We have already established above that poetic reference, in a far more definitive way than intellectual reference, makes manifest, thorughout the act whereby it comes about, the active intention of the author of the reference. As a result of the intimate semantic coherence of context that characterizes poetry, this intention is not renewed with each particular reference but remains the same throughout the entire work which, thanks to this unity of referential intention, assumes the character of a global reference (Potebnja). And it is this very reference of a higher order, represented by the work as a whole, which enters into a strong relationship with reality. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 161)
This is something that I did not expect: a possibility of reinterpreting Lotman's notion of the whole text as a sign. I think Lotman should be re-read in light of all this.
Since, moreover, the individual is a member of a community, and since his conception of reality is modeled in broad outline on the system of values in force for that community, one might claim that, through the mediation of the individual, poetry exerts an influence on the way the whole society conceives of the world. Therefore we see that the relationship of poetry to reality is considerable, and the more so because a poetic work does not have to do only with concrete realities, but with the entire world. Since a poetic reference, as we have seen, always produces a sense of the whole lexical system of a given language behind it, one might also say that poetry, throughout its evolution, is perpetual confrontation of lexicon with the world of things which the lexicon is meant to reproduce and whose changes it constantly adapts to. We need not assume, however, that the global relationship of a work of art to reality, as we have just described it, is limited only to poetry; it exists in every linguistic performance. There is a mutual counterbalancing between it and the immediate relationship of any particular reference to the reality it denotes; the strengthening of the one weakens the other. The informational function in all its aspects tends toward the pole of immediate relationship, the poetic function, contrariwise, toward the pole of global relationship. (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 161-162)
I recall something similar in Lotman: that the myth models the whole cosmos. In any case this is relevant for concourse and relates to social constructivism, language as a primary (social) modeling system, etc.
Essentially, any act of reference consists in placing the reality denoted into relationship with the lexical system in its entirety. See in this regard, the following excerpts from a study by S. Karcevskij, "The Asymmetric Dualism of the Linguistic Sign" (Do dualisme asymétrique du signe linguistique," Travaux du Cercle linguistique de Prague, I, 1929): "If signs were immobile and had only one function each, language wold become a simple repertoire of etiquettes. ... The nature of a linguistic sign is supposed to be stable and mobile both at the same time. ... Any linguistic sign is potentially homonym and synonym at the same time. ... We constantly transpose the semantic value of a sign. But we become aware of it only when the gap between the 'adequate' (usual) value fo the sign and its value on a particular occasion is sufficiently wide to impress us. ... It is impossible to foresee where a sign might be led off to by consequence of its semantic displacements." Thus, poetic reference and emotional reference do no more than shift the accent, in the antinomy of stability and mobility, onto the pole of "mobility." (Mukařovský 1976[1938]: 163)
This note, too, is valuable. Not only is it indirectly related to Jakobson's permanent dynamic synchrony, but the implications can be carried over to the semiotics of nonverbal behaviour as well.

Mukařovský, Jan 1964[1932]. Standard Language and Poetic Language. In: Garvin, Paul L. (ed.), The Prague School Reader oy Esthetics, Literary Structures, and Style, Selected and Translated from the Original Czech. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 17-30.

Different forms of the language may exist side by side in a work of poetry (for instance, in the dialogues of a novel dialect or slang, in the narrative passages the standard). (Mukařovský 1964[1932]: 17)
I've considered writing a short story that has dialogues and narrative passages in different languages (Estonian and English).
[...] the Czech national renascence [...] (Mukařovský 1964[1932]: 18)
Oh wow. I first though that this is a misspelled "Renaissance". It is in fact just another term (variant) for the same. But this version makes it clear that it means re-nascence (being born later).
The second special question which we shall attempt to answer concerns the different function of the two forms of language. This is the core of the problem. The function of poetic language consists in the maximum of foregrounding of the utterance. Foregrounding is the opposite of automatization, that is, the deautomatization of an act; the more an act is automatized, the less it is consciously executed; the more it is foregrounded, the more completely conscious does it become. Objectively speaking: automatization schematizes an event; foregrounding means the violation of the scheme. The standard language in its purest form, as the language of science with formulation as its objective, avoids foregrounding [aktualisace]: thus, a new expression, foregrounded because of its newness, is immediately automatized in a scientific treatise by an exact definition of its meaning. (Mukařovský 1964[1932]: 19)
Compare this to Jakobson's notion that the poetic function brings the word to the fore exactly as a word; or promotes the "palpability" of signs.
In poetic language foregrounding achieves maximum intensity to the extent of pushing communication into the background as the objective of expression and of being used for its own sake; it is not used in the service of communication, but in order to place in the foreground the act of expression, the act of speech itself. (Mukařovský 1964[1932]: 19)
This is why the poetic function concerns the message and where its self-referentiality comes into play.
The consistency manifests itself in the fact that the reshaping of the foregrounded component within a given work occurs in a stable direction; thus, the deautomatization of meanings in a certain work is consistently carried out by lexical selection (the mutual interlarding of contrasting areas of the lexicon), in another equally consistently by the uncommon semantic relatioship of words close together in the context. Both procedures results in a foregrounding of meaning, but differently for each. (Mukařovský 1964[1932]: 20)
That is, one kind of poetic effect is brought about by creating an uncommon semantic relationship between words that wouldn't regularly appear next to each other. The technique of stringing together technical and non-technical language comes to mind.
The dominant thus creates the unity of the work of poetry. It is, of course, a unity of its own kind, the nature of which in esthetics is usually designated as "unity in variety," a dynamic unity in which we at the same time perceive harmony and disharmony, convergence and divergence. (Mukařovský 1964[1932]: 21)
Cf. the structure of something as a relational whole.
Proof of the intensity with which a new trend in poetry is perceived as a distortion of the traditional canon is the negative attitude of conservative criticism which considers deliberate deviation from the canon errors against the very essence of poetry. (Mukařovský 1964[1932]: 22)
:D The criticism Mihkel Kunnus raised against the poetry of young women can be viewed as an expression of negative attitude towards the distortion of traditional canon.
To criticize the deviations from the norm of the standard as faults, especially in a period which, like the present, tends towards a powerful foregrounding of linguistic components, means to reject poetry. It could be counted that in some works of poetry, or rather in some genres, only the "content" (subject matter) is foregrounded, so that the above remarks do not concern them. (Mukařovský 1964[1932]: 22)
This sounds exactly like Kunnus's polemics.
The subject matter of a work of poetry is thus its largest semantic unit. In terms of being meaning, it has certain properties which are not directly based on the linguistic sign, but are linked to it insofar as the latter is a general semiological unit (especially its independence of any specific signs, or sets of signs, so that the same subject matter may without basic changes be rendered by different linguistic devices, or even transposed into a different set of signs altogether, as in the transposition of subject matter from one art form to another), but this difference in properties does not affect the semantic character of the subject matter. (Mukařovský 1964[1932]: 23)
Again, something that I didn't expect. Here we have intralinguistic translation ("the same subject mattery may without basic changes be rendered by different linguistic devices"), interlinguistic translation ("transposed into a different set of signs altogether") and intersemiotic translation (" the transposition of subject matter from one art form to another"). The difference with Jakobson is that Mukařovský doesn't seem to differentiate between intra- and interlinguistic translation.
There still remains the problem of esthetic values in language outside of the realm of poetry. A recent Czech opinion has it that "esthetic evaluation must be excluded from language, since there is no place where it can be applied. It is useful and necessary for judging style, but not language" (J. Haller, Problém jazykové správnosti [The Problem of Correct Language], Výročni zpráva č. st. ref reál. gymnasia v Ústí nad Labem za r. 1930-31, p. 23). I am leaving aside the criticism of the terminologically inaccurate opposition of style and language; but I do want to point out, in opposition to Haller's thesis, that esthetic valuation is a very important factor in the formation of the norm of the standard; on the one hand because the conscious refinement of the language can not do without it, on the other hand because it sometimes, in part, determines the development of the norm of the standard. (Mukařovský 1964[1932]: 23-24)
In a discussion (with a friend) on poetic function I similarly arrived at the problematic of style. Here it must be recognized that the aesthetic/poetic function was a reaction to contemporary opinions that excluded aesthetic valuations from considerations. And indeed it remains just as actual in Estonia in the beginning of the 2010s as it apparently was in Czech in the beginning of the 1930s.
Let us start with a general discussion of the field of esthetic phenomena. It is clear that this field by far exceeds the confines of the arts. Dessoir says about it: "The striving for beauty need not be limited in its manifestation to the specific forms of the arts. The esthetic needs are, on the contrary, so potent that tehy affect almost all the acts of man." If the area of esthetic phenomena is indeed so bread, it becomes obvious that esthetic valuation has its place beyond the confines of the arts; we can cite as examples the esthetic factors in sexual selection, fashion, the social amenities, the culinary arts, etc. There is, of course, a difference between esthetic valuation in the arts and outside of art. In the arts, esthetic valuation necessarily stands highest in the hierarchy of the values contained in the work, whereas outside of art its position vacillates ad is usually subordinate. (Mukařovský 1964[1932]: 24)
If I were to extend the aesthetic function from language to behaviour and seriously tried to make the case that dance is something like "nonverbal poetry", then this is extremely helpful. Also, I should keep in mind the dream I had lately wherein Ted Mosby (from How I Met Your Mother) taught a curious subject called "the aesthetics of nonverbal communication". The work of Max Dessoir could be useful in this regard (especially the work cited here, Ästetik und allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, 1906).
In other periods, including the present, the esthetic point of view has more of a regulatory function in the cultivation of good language: he who is active in the cultivation of good language must take care not to force upon the standard language, in the name of correct language, modes of expression that violate the esthetic canon (set of norms) given in the language implicitly, but objectively; intervention without heed to the esthetic norms hampers, rather than advances, the development of the language. (Mukařovský 1964[1932]: 25)
This could be helpful in drawing the connection between nonverbal communication and social regulation, through norms like the etiquette, for example.
[...] a loan from poetic language may likewise be taken over for extraesthetic, that is, communicative reasons, and conversely the motivation for borrowings from other functional dialects, such as slang, may be esthetic. (Mukařovský 1964[1932]: 28)
What a curious dichotomy.

Mukařovský, Jan 1976[1944]. The Essence of the Visual Arts. In: Matejka, Ladislav and Irwin R. Titunik (eds.), Semiotics of Art: Prague School contributions. Cambridge: MIT Press, 229-244.

The first stop on our way will be a comparison of a work of visual art with a natural object. Let us imagine a rock and a statue made from the same stone next to one another. There are undoubtedly many similarities, even more than it appears at first glance. The statue was also once a rock, and there are more than a few instances of a sculptor's finding his inspiration in the shape of a rock. Sometimes the shape of an already finished statue shows the contours of the rock from which it has come. If, on the contarry, a statue is made of a soft material, it will more and more regain the appearance of a rock in the course of time. Indeed, we can go even further: in its oldest form the most primordial statue - prehistoric, primitive man's statue - was nothing but a mere unshaped, unworked rock. Let us listen to a specialist's words on this point: "The very loosening of a stone from its close contact with the earth's surface represents its first resemblance to man, to human corporeality. If the stone is then erected, the vertical of a human figure together with the point at which this figure is joined to the earth has already been provided." (Mukařovský 1976[1944]: 230)
I wonder if this has anything to do with Lotman's very relaxed definition of art, wherein if you place a rock on a tree stump, you can rightfully call it art.
Stated clearly: a work of art does not differ from a natural object in the fact that it has an originator who made it but in the fact that it appears as made and in such a way that its organization reveals a specific unified intention. (Mukařovský 1976[1944]: 231)
A definition of art in terms of perceived intention.
Leonardo da Vinci thus advised young painters: "By looking attentively at old and smeared walls, or stanes and veiled marble of various colors, you may fancy that you see in them several compositions, landscapes, battles figures in quick motion, strange countenances, and dresses, with an infinity of other subjects. By these confused lines the inventive genius is excited to nev exertions." In other words, he advised them to conceive accidentally occurring lines and stains on a wall as preliminary sketches for paintings. (Mukařovský 1976[1944]: 231)
I deem it a good suggestion. And the experience of seeing human figures in "visual noise" is probably familiar to anyone familiar with hallucinogens. I remember vividly the bodies and faces that appeared when I peered at the color-blotches of my unpainted dorm room floor or the "trollface" that I saw in the shadows on my window created by the rising sun penetrating through the tree branches.
Let us not, however, forget that there is a fundamental difference between the originator and the perceiver. The originator is a single, unique individual, whereas the perceiver is anyone. The originator determines the organization of the work, whereas the perceiver confronts a finished work, and he can interpret it in various ways. This conceptual process on the perceiver's part occurs only in a fleeting moment, whereas the work itself endures. (Mukařovský 1976[1944]: 231)
Or in Jakobson's terms, the originator begins with a selection (code) and creates a combination (message), while the perceiver confronts a combination (message) and has to deduce the selection (code).
It would seem that everything is now clear, but it is precisely at this moment that urgent questions begin to arise. Such as: If both a work of art and an implement are intentional, then why is the work of art oriented toward nothing but itself? The idea of being oriented toward a point different from that at which we find ourselves follows from the very word "intention." Would it be possible, however, to have an intention that is directed nowhere else but back toward its starting point? Another question: It is clear that an object which serves a purpose is good for something. But what is a work of art good for, if we say that it does not serve a purpose? (Mukařovský 1976[1944]: 234)
Compare this to the self-referentiality of the poetic function of linguistic messages.
The work of art is therefore a sign that is supposed to mediate some suprapersonal meaning. But as soon as we utter the words "sign" and "meaning," the most common and best known signs - the word, language - come to mind. And this is not at all unwarranted. Nevertheless, precisely because of this we must have a very clear awareness of the difference between the artistic sign and such signs as linguistic ones. The word - in its normal, nonpoetic usage - serves communication. It has an external aim: to depict some event, to describe some thing, to express some emotion, to stimulate some behavior in the listener, and so on. All of this, however, goes beyand the word itself; all of this is somewhere otside linguistic expression. Language is therefore a sign-instrument serving an external aim. A product of visual art, for example a painting, can also, of course, tend to communicate something and hence be a sign-instrument. Thus a picture in an illustrated commercial catalogue serves the purpose of providing information about goods that cannot be depicted in words, and it is a companion and equally important complement of the verbal message. Indeed, even a picture intended as a work of art usually communicates - and often in a very precise way - something: for instance, a portrait of a person or of a landscape (the so-called veduta). Nevertheless, the significance of a work of art as a work of art per se does not lie in communication. The work of art, as we have already said, is not oriented toward anything that is outside itself, toward any external aim. But only something that is outside the sign itself can be communicated. The artistic sign in contrast to the communicative sign is non-serving, that is, it is not an instrument. The understanding that the artistic sign establishes among people does not pertain to things, even when they are represented in the work, but to a certain attitude towards things, a certain attitude on the part of man towards the entire reality that surrounds him, not only to that reality which is directly represented in the given case. The work does not, however, communicate this attitude - hence the intrinsic artistic "content" of the work is also inexpressible in words - but evokes it directly in the perceiver. We call this attitude the "meaning" of the work only because it is rendered in the work objectively by its organization, and it is therefore accessible to everyone and is always repeatable. (Mukařovský 1976[1944]: 236-237)
Compare this to Lotman's communicational perspective and semiotics of art. Stimulating behaviour seems like Morris's pragmatic axis. (Notice that this is the seventh component that is lacking in Jakobson's scheme - perhaps exactly because it goes beyond language, the word itself.) Language as an instrument should be familiar from Jakobson. The impracticality of art was discussed by Mukařovský in previous texts. And finally, the aspect of attitude could be compared to Mead's conversation of attitudes.
And this common designation, already emphasized by the old saying that art is unique and simply has a multitude of kinds ("ars una, species mille" - it reads in Latin), this common designation results, on the one hand, in the fact that one and teh same artist very often creates simultaneously in several arts, and, on the other hand, in the fact that perceivers specialize in one or another art according to their inclinations and abilities without feeling this limitation as an impoverishing onesidedness. A further consequence of the common designation of all the arts is the fact that themes migrate freely from art to art as well as that the most varied arts are connected to one another (for example, in the illustration of a poetic work) or combined with one another. There is even an art that in its very nature is a combination of several arts. This is theater. (Mukařovský 1976[1944]: 240-241)
A neat note that elaborates syncretism. If a connection between syncretism and multimodality is made, the analogy between theater and real life interactions (especially from the standpoint of dramaturgical sociology) comes to the fore.
This is an old problem. The most famous treatise on it, Lessing's Laocoön, bears the date 1766. Lessing, a rationalist who together with his age understood matters of art from the viewpoint of a norm, albeit not a rigid rule, also conceived this question as something which should be, rather than as a pure assertion of the state of affairs. In his treatise, therefore, he showed that graphic and plastic arts, the visual arts, must adopt a different attitude toward their themes and handle them differently than poetry, an art inspired by the muses. Thus a painting can present the entire appearance of a thing in front of a viewer's eyes at once, whereas poetry must depict the same thing in parts, gradually, in time: for poetry a state changes into events. On the contrary, of course, graphic arts cannot present events otherwise than as a state. (Mukařovský 1976[1944]: 241)
This notion rings familiar from both Langer and Lotman. In the latter it constitutes one of the distinctions that are possible under the terms discrete and continuous.

Mukařovský, Jan 1964[1940]. The Esthetics of Language. In: Garvin, Paul L. (ed.), The Prague School Reader oy Esthetics, Literary Structures, and Style, Selected and Translated from the Original Czech. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 31-69.

Before approaching teh esthetic in language only, however, we feel the need for some preliminary remarks on the esthetic in general, especially on its threefold aspects: as function, norm, and value. The esthetic function makes of the object which is its carrier an esthetic fact without any further classification; therefore it often manifests itself as a fleeting storke touching the object, as an accident stemming from a single momentary rapport between the subject and the object. The esthetic norm, on the other hand, is the force regulating man's esthetic attitudes towards things; therefore the norm detaches the esthetic from the individual object and the individual subject and makes it a matter of the general relationship between man and the world of things. Between the unbridled esthetic function and the esthetic norm there is a direct opposition in the nature of a dielictic antinomy of related, yet opposing, forces. (Mukařovský 1964[1940]: 31)
When comparing this to Lotman's notion of culture text, that is, the text that carries a specific cultural function, the function and norm seem to be conflated. A more thorough reading of Lotman is necessary to elucidate whether this is truly so.
Let us now turn our attention for a moment to the relationship between the esthetic and the area of extraesthetic functions, norms and values. A differentiation of the esthetic from the extraesthetic appears at first blush to be uneven, since it opposes a single function to all the others. Its justification lies in the fact that the esthetic, as opposed to all other modes of the utilization of things by man, makes the thing an end in itself. The extraesthetic is the proper area of human work and creation, using things as its tools. The esthetic attitude, by contrast, has a negative character in the sense that, by denying the external objective, it makes of the thing a purpose in itself. The negative nature of the esthetic manifests itself, of course, only in relation to the practical attitude. (Mukařovský 1964[1940]: 32)
Here esthetic functions, norms and values are opposed to the extraesthetic functions, norms and values. While the latter are goal-oriented (or oriented in any number of different ways), the former is oriented toward itself.
Another case of the unstructured esthetic in language is onomatopoeia, especially when the onomatopoeic words are rare or even newly created; the esthetic attitude here is brought about by the fact that the linguistic sign, in having to imitate reality acoustically, attracts attention to its phonetic aspect which usually, in communicative responses, is pushed into the background by the meaning. Proof of the esthetic element in onomatopoeia is its close relatedness to certain nuances of poetic euphony, as well as the direct use of onomatopoeia in poetry, for instance in [Karel Jaromír] Erben [1811-1870, a romantic]. (Mukařovský 1964[1940]: 37)
Thus, even in this respect Mukařovský was ahead of Jakobson.
A lingnuistic fashion, no matter how passing, may acquire the false veneer of being a change in the linguistic system as a whole: in France under the directorate, a group of affected young men (who wanted to be different from the rest in other ways as well, for instance, by their clothing) began leaving out the phoneme "r" in their pronounciation: they pronounced "incoyable" (instead of "incroyable"), "ma paole d'honneu" (instead of "parole", "honneur"). It was thus a typical speech fad whose perpetrators were ridiculed by the name "Incroyables," and the part of the esthetic factor in its origin can hardly be doubted. (Mukařovský 1964[1940]: 40)
Memo: this technique can be used to create an eccentric fictional character who consistently leaves out a specific letter (whether r, or in Estonian, k). #ua
Individual speech, which we have further above designated as "personal style," differs from the parole in the proper sense of the word by the fact that its "rules" are obligatory for a single individual only. A norm, however, at least in the proper sense of the word, presupposes a generally obligatory lawfulness, and therefore the esthetic becomes structured [normované] only in the supraindividual parole. By passing on to this parole we bridge an important boundary: from the free and unique esthetic we proceed to the regulated and impersonal esthetic. (Mukařovský 1964[1940]: 44)
Compare this to Jakobson's revulsion to the notion of idiolect and consequent appraisal of speech styles as subcodes fo language.
We have already said above, and emphasized more than once, that the unbridled esthetic function which we call the unstructured esthetic, is closely linked to the actual utterance. Whether the esthetic function appears in its "pure" state, it always reinforces the nuance of uniqueness and nonrepeatability, thus being in accord with the basic nature of the utterance. If, however, the esthetic creation accepts order, it becomes the structured esthetic and reaches over from the area of the momentary utterance to that of the conventions superordinate to the individual utterances, and summed up under the term parole. Midway between the unique utterance and the generally valid conventions of the parole there is an area of transition which, though likewise governed by certain rules, has rules only binding on a single individual; this is the area of the individual parole. In this, the esthetic manifests itself in a systematic manner, but is not deprived of its uniqueness, since it is linked to a unique personality, and therefore the individual parole from the standpoint of the esthetic still belongs into the sphere of the unstructured esthetic. It is only the supraindividual parole that makes the esthetic structured: that phase of the verbal response which belongs in the sphere of the supraindividual parole is subject to the esthetic norm. (Mukařovský 1964[1940]: 63-64)
A neat conclusion of the structured and unstructured esthetic. In very broad strokes, unstructured is synsemantic and structured is autosemantic. It is also neat that individual speech is also recognized.
What does specifically characterize poetic language in an esthetic sense is something else: the work of poetry forms a complex, yet unified, esthetic structure into which enter as constituents all of its components, foregrounded or not, as well as their interrelationships. This makes the work of poetry different from any communicative response, where at all times only the foregrounded elements are esthetically relevant. The predominance of the esthetic function in poetic language, by contrast with communicative speech, thus consists in the esthetic relevance of the utterance as a whole. (Mukařovský 1964[1940]: 35)
What I come away from this is that the poetic function operates on the poem as a whole.


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