Tuesday, January 29, 2008

November 20, 1923: Postulates of Linguistics

Chapter 4 / Summary
November 20th, 1923 – Postulates of Language

Photograph – Depiction of silhouetted (faceless) body of authority at desk with microphone (voice of authority)

November 20th 1923 – “The curtain was rolled down” is the date when the old Riechsmark was declared to be no longer money and was to be replaced with the Rentenmark. This signifies a specific instance where the economic basis for a society was superseded by the culture in which it forms. A roll shift, if you will which according to Marxist theory (in that the economic structure is what all of a society relates back to) does not happen.
Economic structure = Societal foundation (cultural determinate)
Cultural structure = Societal superstructure (based on economic structure)

Postulates of Language . . . the demands or requirements deemed as necessary for communication and understanding. - Oxford

Postulate I
“Language is informational and communicational”

Linguiso-political arguments

“Language presupposes itself and therefore we cannot assign it a nonlinguistic point of departure.”

The politics of language are synonymous to the politics of oppression.
Rules of grammar are “power markers” . . . authoritative structures . . . a means of controlling the expression of a society.

A distinguishing between Informing/instructing and insigning. . . . “The compulsory education machine does not communicate information but rather imposes upon the child semiotic coordinates . . . the elementary unit of language is the statement which is the order-word . . . Language is not to be believed but to be obeyed”

Ordering is redundancy . . . like speaking to oneself . . . the performative relates not to acts but instead to a property of “self referentiality”. . . . a “closed circuit” if you will.
“Say something once, why say it again” – David Byrne

Words are limiting tools. Information is the bare minimum required for emission or transmission . . . not expression.

Hear/say. . .”broken telephone” . . . language distortion. . . “We believe that narrative consists not in communicating what one has seen but in transmitting what one has heard”
“Language is a virus from outer space and hearing your name is better than seeing your face” - W.S. Burroughs

“Language is not the model for all structures and but rather that the question of language is merely a subset of the larger question of regimes of signs and the question of semiotics.” – M. Hardt
From an anthropological perspective language is inseparable from the culture or society it describes . . . therefore if a culture or society subscribes to a language that is creatively stagnant itself will embody the same fate.

Michael Hardt argues that the above statement according to D&G is incorrect and that this “regime of signs” does not relate to society but is society itself and is not enlightened in the realm of socio-anthropology. He states that “Once we cast the question of language in the larger and proper framework of a “regime of signs”, then, and once we recognize a regime of signs as a society, it is clear that this is a political terrain, simply in the sense that all questions are immediately questions of the polis, of the social field. “Language is a political affair before it is an affair for linguistics; even the evaluation of degrees of grammaticality is a political matter"

Perhaps rather than ethics I should talk about pragmatics. This is the opening in these chapters toward political action. "Pragmatics is a politics of language," or perhaps more generally, pragmatics is a politics of semiotics. What do they means by political here? It is of course a practical matter, but I would argue that the first thing one need is criteria for political action, and that is what D&G provide. You can recognize when D&G are proposing criteria for political action when they start talking about usage or particular two different usages for something. –M. Hardt

Postulate II
“The Abstract Machine of Language does not appeal to any extrinsic factor”

How can we discover variation, transformation, passage, and deterritorialization in language?

Variation and transformation are attributed to bodies. The independence of the “form of content” and the “form of expression” is not the basis of a parallelism, but on the contrary, a parceling of the two, a manner in which expressions are inserted into contents, a deterritorialization; “The knife cutting the flesh” an “intermingling of bodies”. This is a collective assemblage of annunciations which D&G states are in continuous variation and are themselves constantly subject to transformations.

"Continuous variation constitutes the becoming-minoritarian of everybody, as opposed to the majoritarian. Becoming-majoritarian as the universal figure of consciousness is called autonomy" I'm interested in the collective dimension of this explanation, which qualifies what might have sometimes seemed like very individualistic notions of flight. Minoritarian politics is not only collective; however, it is universal or at least potentially universal. It is potentially the politics of everyone. – M Hardt

Postulate III
“There are constants or universals of language that enable us to define it as a homogenous system”
“There is no reason to tie the abstract machine to the universal or constant”
Musicians say that the “theme is the variation”
“Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” – Laurie Anderson
Modal playing and composing (in the Jazz context) evolved from not playing or writing compositions using chords but instead using modal scales. For example this means that the player does not have to go from one important note of a chord to that of another as long as he or she stays in the scale being used and accentuated the right notes within the scale. The overall result was more freedom of expression. In fact, the way that a soloist creates a solo changed dramatically from the be-bop norm with the advent of modal jazz. Before, the goal of a soloist was to play a solo that fit into a set of chords. However, with modal jazz, a soloist would create a melody in one scale (typically). Therefore, the goal of the musician was now to make the melody as interesting as possible. Modal jazz was, in essence, a return to melody. This was the basis of Modern Jazz and explored by artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman the latter two eventually ignoring melody and tonality all together with the invention of “Free Jazz”, the mode of total freedom where he or she can go virtually everywhere.
Playing style - Chord (arborescent) / Modal (arbo/rhizomatic) / Free (rhizomatic)
Postulate IV
“Language can be scientifically studied only under the conditions of a standard or ‘Major’ language.”
There is a constant tendency to seek out a reduction in language

Major and Minor

“How strange the change from major to minor” – Cole Porter

"'Major' and 'minor' do not qualify two different languages but rather two usages or functions of language" In the context of D&G's order-words, we should recognize that there are two usages of order-words.
The major usage of them is as commands or orders "You will do this, you will not do that", each of which, according to D&G, is a little death sentence. The major usage of order words is always a “verdict”. But of course that is not the only usage possible: "the order-word is also something else, inseparably connected, like a warning cry or a message to flee"
The minor usage of order-words is part of a” line of flight”. “Flight must be creative”. We have seen these lines of flight posed as the political alternative before, but what interests Hardt here is that flight or escape is not enough. "In the order-word life must answer the answer of death, not by fleeing, but by making flight act and create," by transforming "the compositions of order into components of passage” (which harkens back to that of “variation and transformation”)

“This illustrates that minoritarian usages are creative and majoritarian are not or in other words, that minoritarian usages are becomings.”There is no becoming-majoritarian; majority is never becoming. All becoming is minoritarian.”

“It is a minoritarian usage that possesses no standard but only variation. It deterritorializes the major language. According to this understanding all great authors invent a minor language, or more properly, they make minoritarian usage of the language.” – M. Hardt
The major usage of order-words is a death sentence. Its usage of language insists on unity, uniformity and on the fixity of its constants.
The minor usage of order-words is also a death sentence but part of a “line of flight”. Its usage operates a reduction of constants and proliferates in the variations of the language to create expression.

“Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different after they are said, a little distorted, a little foolish.” - Herman Hesse (Siddhartha)




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