… [meaning] cannot act as a material force. And it does not need to do this: it itself is stronger than any force …
Final post from Speech Genres & Other Late Essays by M.M. Bakhtin (1986):
… Each particular phenomenon is submerged in the primordial elements of the origins of existence. As distinct from myth, this is an awareness that one does not coincide with one’s own individual meaning.
The symbol has a “warmth of fused mystery” (Averintsev). The aspect of contrasting one’s own to another’s. The warmth of love and the coldness of alienation. Contrast and comparison. Any interpretation of a symbol itself remains a symbol, but it is somewhat rationalized, that is, brought somewhat closer to the concept.
… Interpretation as the discovery of a path to seeing (contemplating) and supplementing through creative thinking. Anticipation of the further growing context, its relation to the finalized whole, and its relation to the unfinalized context. This meaning (in the unfinalized context) cannot be peaceful and cozy (one cannot curl up comfortably and die within it).
… The text lives only by coming into contact with another text (with context). Only at the point of this contact between texts does a light flash, illuminating both the posterior and anterior, joining a given text to a dialogue. We emphasize that this contact is a dialogic contact between texts (utterances) and not a mechanical contact of “oppositions,” which is possible only within a single text (and not between a text and context) among abstract elements (signs within a text), and is necessary only in the first stage of understanding (understanding formal definition, but not contextual meaning).
[line break added] Behind this contact is a contact of personalities and not of things (at the extreme). If we transform dialogue into one continuous text, that is, erase the division between voices (changes of speaking subjects), which is possible at the extreme (Hegel’s monological dialectics), then the deep-seated (infinite) contextual meaning disappears (we hit the bottom, reach a standstill).
… Thought knows only conditional points; thought erodes all previously established points.
… A thing, as long as it remains a thing, can affect only other things; in order to affect a personality it must reveal its semantic potential, become a word, that is, assimilate to a potential verbal-semantic context.
… One must not forget that “thing” and “personality” are limits and not absolute substances. Meaning cannot (and does not wish to) change physical, material, and other phenomena; it cannot act as a material force. And it does not need to do this: it itself is stronger than any force, it changes the total contextual meaning of an event and reality without changing its actual (existential) composition one iota; everything remains as it was but acquires a completely different contextual meaning (the semantic transformation of existence). Each word of a text is transformed in a new context.