Unreal Nature

December 18, 2016

There Are No Voiceless Words

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:57 am

… What is given is completely transformed in what is created.

This is from Speech Genres & Other Late Essays by M.M. Bakhtin (1986):

… Two or more sentences can be absolutely identical (when they are superimposed on one another, like two geometrical figures, they coincide); moreover, we must allow that any sentence, even a complex one, in the unlimited speech flow can be repeated an unlimited number of times in completely identical form. But as an utterance (or part of an utterance) no one sentence, even if it has only one word, can ever be repeated: it is always a new utterance (even if it is a quotation).

… Research becomes inquiry and conversation, that is, dialog. We do not address inquiries to nature and she does not answer us. We put questions to ourselves and we organize observation or experiment in such a way as to obtain an answer.

… An utterance is never just a reflection or an expression of something already existing, outside it that is given and final. It always creates something that never existed before, something absolutely new and unrepeatable, and, moreover, it always has some relation to value (the true, the good, the beautiful, and so forth). But something created is always created out of something given (language, an observed phenomenon of reality, an experienced feeling, the speaking subject himself, something finalized in his world view, and so forth). What is given is completely transformed in what is created.

… It is much easier to study the given in what is created (for example, language, ready-made and general elements of world view, reflected phenomena of reality, and so forth) than to study what is created.

… An object is ready-made, the linguistic means for its depiction are ready-made, the artist himself is ready-made, and his world view is ready-made. And here with ready-made means, in light of a ready-made world view, the ready-made poet reflects a ready-made object. But in fact the object is created in the process of creativity, as are the poet himself, his world view, and his means of expression.

… The relation to the thing (in its pure thingness) cannot be dialogic (i.e. there can be no conversation, argument, agreement, and so forth). The relation to meaning is always dialogic. Even understanding itself is dialogic.

… The word (or in general any sign) is interindividual. Everything that is said, expressed, is located outside the “soul” of the speaker and does not belong only to him. The word cannot be assigned to a single speaker. The author (speaker) has his own inalienable right to the word, but the listener also has his rights, and those whose voices are heard in the word before the author comes upon it also have their rights (after all, there are no words that belong to no one). The word is a drama in which three characters participate (it is not a duet, but a trio). It is performed outside the author, and it cannot be introjected into the author.

… Each large and creative verbal whole is a very complex and multi-faceted system of relations. With a creative attitude toward language, there are no voiceless words that belong to no one. Each word contains voices that are sometimes infinitely distant, unnamed, almost impersonal (voices of lexical shadings, of styles, and so forth), almost undetectable, and voices resounding nearby and simultaneously.

My most recent previous post from Bakhtin’s book is here.




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