Sunday, September 30, 2012

Discourse in the Novel 2

Below are some random excerpts from Bakhtin's Dialogic Imagination. I like Bakhtin's writing just as much as I like his ideas. I savor the sensations and sounds and images this writing evokes and interestingly the pleasure does not seem to wane no matter how many times I read Bakhtin.  I especially like how everything from words to genres from objects to atmosphere, not to mention people are so vivid and teeming with life. Such a treat! Anyway, as you can see I cannot get over the writing and the imagery of it to get to the ideas :-)  so I do not have much to say about the ideas expressed, which I find stimulating and close to how things are. More than anything else, I think the role interaction with others play in becoming and change is pretty fascinating. How to study this interaction is a whole different story of course.   

in an atmosphere filled with the alien words, value judgments and accents through which the ray passes on its way toward the object; the social atmosphere of the word, the atmosphere that surrounds the object, makes the facets of the image sparkle.

The word, breaking through to its own meaning and its own expression across an environment full of alien words and variously evaluating accents, harmonizing with some of the elements in this environment and striking a dissonance with others, is able, in this dialogized process, to shape its own stylistic profile and tone.


every word is directed toward an answer and cannot escape the profound influence of the answering word that it anticipates.

In the actual life of speech, every concrete act of understanding is active: it assimilates the word to be understood into its own conceptual system filled with specific objects and emotional expressions, and is indissolubly merged with the response, with a motivated agreement or disagreement. To some extent, primacy belongs to the response, as the activating principle: it creates the ground for understanding, it prepares the ground for an active and engaged understanding. Understanding comes to fruition only in response. Understanding and response are dialectically merged and mutually condition each other; one is impossible without the other.

Discourse lives, as it were, on the boundary between its own context and another, alien, context.

This stratification is accomplished first of all by the specific organism called genres. Certain features of language (lexicological, semantic, syntactic) will knit together with the intentional aim and with the overall accentual system inherent in one or another genre: oratorical, publicistic, newspaper and journalistic genres.

It is in fact not the neutral linguistic components of language being stratified and differentiated, but rather a situation in which the intentional possibilities of language are being expropriated: these possibilities are realized in specific directions, filled with specific content, they are made concrete, particular, and are permeated with concrete value judgments; they knit together with specific objects and with the belief systems of certain genres of expression and points of view peculiar to particular professions.
they are capable of attracting its words and forms into their orbit by means of their own characteritic intentions and accents, and in so doing to a certain extent alienating these words and forms from other tendencies, parties, artistic works and persons.

For any individual consciousness living in it, language is not an abstract system of normative forms but rather a concrete heteroglot conception of the world. All words have the "taste" of a profession, a genre, a tendency, a party, a particular work, a particular person, a generation, an age group, the day and hour. Each word tastes of the context and contexts in which it has lived its socially charged life: all words and forms are populated by intentions. Conceptual overtones (generic, tendentious, individualistic) are inevitable in the word.

The word in language is half someone else's. It becomes "one's own" only when the speaker populates it with his own intention, his own accent, when he appropriates the word, adapting it to his own semantic and expressive intention.

Such speech constitutes a special type of double-voiced discourse. It serves two speakers at the same time and expresses simultaneously two different intentions the direct intention of the author. In such discourse there are two voices, two meanings and two expressions.
And all the while these two voices are dialogically interrelated, they--as it were--know about each other just as two exchanges in a dialogue know of each other and are structured in this mutual knowledge of each other); it is as if they actually hold a conversation with each other.

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