Unreal Nature

January 21, 2018

A Conversation with an Internally Persuasive Word

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:50 am

… Within the arena of almost every utterance an intense interaction and struggle between one’s own and another’s word is being waged …

Continuing through the essay ‘Discourse in the Novel’ found in The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays by M.M. Bakhtin edited by Michael Holquist (1981):

… Internally persuasive discourse — as opposed to one that is externally authoritative — is, as it is affirmed through assimilation, tightly interwoven with “one’s own word.” In the everyday rounds of our consciousness, the internally persuasive word is half-ours and half-someone else’s. Its creativity and productiveness consist precisely in the fact that such a word awakens new and independent words, that it organizes masses of our words from within, and does not remain in an isolated and static condition.

… it enters into an intense interaction, a struggle with other internally persuasive discourses.

… The importance of struggling with another’s discourse, its influence in the history of an individual’s coming to ideological consciousness, is enormous. One’s own discourse and one’s own voice, although born of another or dynamically stimulated by another, will sooner or later begin to liberate themselves from the authority of the other’s discourse. This process is made more complex by the fact that a variety of alien voices enter into the struggle for influence within an individual’s consciousness (just as the struggle with one another in surrounding social reality).

[line break added] All this creates fertile soil for experimentally objectifying another’s discourse. A conversation with an internally persuasive word that one has begun to resist may continue, but it takes on another character: it is questioned, it is put in a new situation in order to expose its weak sides, to get a feel for its boundaries, to experience it physically as an object.

… It should be noted that the novel always includes in itself the activity of coming to know another’s word, a coming to knowledge whose process is represented in the novel.

… Rhetoric is often limited to purely verbal victories over the word; when this happens, rhetoric degenerates into a formalistic verbal play. But, we repeat, when discourse is torn from reality, it is fatal for the word itself as well: words grow sickly, lose semantic depth and flexibility, the capacity to expand and renew their meanings in new living contexts — they essentially die as discourse, for the signifying word lives beyond itself, that is, it lives by means of directing its purposiveness outward.

… Within the arena of almost every utterance an intense interaction and struggle between one’s own and another’s word is being waged, a process in which they oppose or dialogically interanimate each other. The utterance so conceived is a considerably more complex and dynamic organism than it appears when construed simply as a thing that articulates the intention of the person uttering it, which is to see the utterance as a direct, single-voiced vehicle for expression.

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

-Julie

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