‘Sin your way to heaven and get slaughtered: A byzantine general problem of the self’ (part sixteen)

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on October 21, 2018 @ 10:11 am

Sentence structure varies in length from the very brief of commands such as “Go!” to the very long. Most sentences on average contain around 20 words. From this it has been estimated that there are a possible 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible sentences in the English language. There are some sequences of words that aren’t sentences. These words are considers unacceptable, one can argue that this is because there are prescriptive and descriptive rules about how sentence structure works. These rules are known as syntax, grammatical rules that determine the sequence of words that constitute a sentence. Some would say that grammatical acceptability is related to meaning. However nonsense writing such as that of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky would disprove this. The acceptability of sentence structure lies more in phrase structure. Behind this phrase structure lie the sentence’s underlying structure (or ‘deep structure’), which provides the starting point for semantic meaning, e.g., who does what to whom. However one can move around the element’s structure, perhaps for stylistic reasons, or to draw attention to one element rather than another, this is the surface structure (or s-structure). This is the structure of the sentence expressed in speech. A sentence’s underlying structure cannot be observed directly, instead it is inferred from various patterns in the surface structure. When an element of a sentence vacates a position to move somewhere else, it doesn’t depart cleanly. Instead it leaves a trace behind. The trace isn’t expressed out loud, but is evident in the speech pattern. These traces thus allow us to document that elements have been moved around and from where they have been moved. This then establishes that different types of sentence, such as questions, are not formed by running through the appropriate phrase structure rules, but by moving elements around in a tree structure in accord with the movement rules.
This relates to sentence formation, but how do we comprehend the sentences we read or hear? How do we parse sentences? We know that subjects use phrase structure to interpret the sentence in the first place. But how do we figure out the phrase structure? It seems listeners and readers use phrase endings to do so. But how do they identify such phrase endings in more complicated sentences? Parsing a sentence turns out to be a complex process due to the variety of sentence forms and also due to ambiguity. Temporary ambiguity can occur within a sentence, where the first part of sentence is ambiguous but the second part clears things up. It seems we use a variety of different strategies to parse sentences. For example as a matter of convenience, we assume sentences for the most part are active, rather than passive (at least in English) and listen out for them, although this can cause issues parsing when passive sentences are encountered. Other factors involved in parsing are function words and the various morphemes that signal syntactic role. There is also minimal attachment, this means that throughout a sentence the listener or reader looks out for the simplest phrase structure that will accommodate all the words heard or read so far. Parsing is also guided by semantic factors, not just syntax. With regards words for which there are multiple referents for the same word, then people tend to assume its most frequent meaning.
So we now have a combination of syntax and parsing, and we bring these to bear in parsing language, but how do these factors combine? The interactionist view is that all one’s knowledge comes to bear on a sentence simultaneously. Then there is the modular account, where one uses different sources of information at different points whilst parsing the sentence. One might first try to analyse the syntax without consideration of semantic elements, only bringing these elements to bear once the syntax has been understood. Although the interactionist model seems a best fit when it is observed that moment-by-moment, word-by-word parsing is influenced by semantics when trying to untangle syntax. But the picture is different when we look at word identification. When an ambiguous word is used, there is a delay, so initially in parsing word identification is quite open, but as the latter parts of a sentence come into play, the reader or listener make their selection and the ambiguity is shut down to one possible interpretation.
Although we have looked at the complexity of interpreting language, this description still understates things, firstly there are pronouns. Pronouns without specific referents can be very ambiguous. The sketch with the Knights Who Say Ni in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail who are ultimately defeated by an overuse of the word ‘it’ is a case in point. Then, especially with regards spoken word there is prosody, the rise and fall of intonation and the pattern of pauses, the rhythm and pitch cues of speech, which plays an important part in speech perception. It can reveal the mood of the speaker, it can, through effect, direct the listener’s attention to a specific focus or theme in the sentence. It can also render unambiguous a sentence that would otherwise be confusing.
And after examining this we have not dealt with how language is produced. How does one turn ideas, intentions and queries into actual sentences? How does language come from thought? This was partially covered by Vygotsky. Likewise after parsing a sentence how does one particular sentence integrate with earlier or subsequent sentences? With regards this we have looked at Wittgenstein, although there is also the issue knowledge of pragmatics, that is how language is ordinarily used. However this proceeds into on the one hand literature, the other politics, communicative ethics and rhetoric. We however want, for the moment to venture backwards to the unconscious and back to our discussion of Deleuze and machines. First though it is useful to refresh are discussion of Vygotsky and inner thought. For the psychotic and voice hearers, at least those distressed, there are clearly issues of ambiguity in the voices heard. Is this as Vygotsky argues the issue of predicates? We have seen that in a sentence of at least two parts it is the first part of a sentence that is ambiguous, but if inner thought is based on predicates, do we only hear one part. Take the statement ‘she passed’. Is that someone dying? Missing a turning in a journey? Passing an exam? Passing a ball in a game of football? But it is ‘heard’ so we have the phoneme issue in spoken word, so there is (like in the game Charades) a ‘sounds like’ element, so is the statement ‘she parsed’ instead? Perhaps we have a further clue when the statement is revealed as a longer one: ‘She passed the sentence’. Perhaps it was a mishearing after all and it is ‘she parsed the sentence’, someone (‘she’ bearing in mind ‘who’ is still ambiguous) has understood a sentence. But maybe not perhaps the referent is a judge and the judge has passed sentence on a criminal? As has already been implied this is before the issue of ‘referents’ with regards pronouns is taken into account. At we have yet to question the possibility of metaphor as argued by Freudian psychoanalytic theory. However, from this issue with sentence parsing in voice hearing, I would like to remind, for the third time, of Vygotsky’s statement that “while in external speech thought is embodied in words, in inner speech words die as they bring forth thought” and that “a thought may be compared to a cloud shedding a shower of words” and in the next article we will return to Deleuze and Gauttari and the machinic unconscious, that the chains thought in the unconscious are called ‘signifying chains’ (chaines signifiantes) because they are made up of signs, but these signs themselves are not signifying. The code resembles not so much language as jargon, an open-ended, polyvocal formation.”


On the occult art of entertaining a thought

Filed under:poetry — posted by Schizostroller on October 20, 2018 @ 6:16 pm

If you believe
I believe in this stuff
You are more credulous
Than I am


‘Sin your way to heaven and get slaughtered: A byzantine general problem of the self’ (part fifteen)

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on October 19, 2018 @ 9:02 pm

Deleuze and Guattari suggest that the understanding of the machinic unconscious can be traced back to Lacan. However they argue this unconscious is a multiplicity “but how very strange thisw domain seems, simply because it’s a multiplicity – a multiplicity so complex that we can scarcely speak of one chain or even one code of desire. The chains are called ‘signifying chains’ (chaines signifiantes) because they are made up of signs, but these signs themselves are not signifying. The code resembles not so much language as jargon, an open-ended, polyvocal formation.” (p.38). In this sense we can see we are looking at that part of thought beyond inner speech identified by Vygotsky where thought breaks up “But while in external speech thought is embodied in words, in inner speech words die as they bring forth thought” or “A thought may be compared to a cloud shedding a shower of words.”
I think it is appropriate for the moment to look at language from a cognitive perspective, and then look at some of the cognitive underpinnings of language use, specifically ‘connectionism’. Generally, in cognitive theory, sentences are considered to be comprised of ‘morphemes’, these are the smallest language units that carry meaning, these can be roughly split up into content morphemes and function morphemes. In the sentence “The umpires talked to the players”, the content morphemes would be ‘the’, ‘umpire’, ‘talk’, ‘to’ , ‘the’ and ‘play’, whilst the function morphemes would be ‘s’, ‘ed’, ‘er’ and ‘s’. In spoken language morphemes are conveyed by sounds called ‘phonemes’. Speech production is categorised via places of articulation and manner of production, that are affected by airflow and the movement, shape and physical characteristics of the mouth and vocal chords (think Watson’s theory of inner speech as sub-vocalisation). With voice hearing specifically though, we might think perhaps, especially with regards acousmatic voice hearing especially (i.e. voices heard through the ‘sound’ of distant, muffled speech) that speech perception and language parsing is important. One might think less so with regards ‘inner voice hearing’ although with regards Freud’s phrase ‘he is suffering from memories’ and that we have memories of things said and described we might at least entertain that such perception is still relevant, whilst also trying to hold at the same time Vygotsky’s arguments of inner speech, and Deleuze and Guattari’s polyvocal formations. “Features of speech production also correspond to what listeners hear when they are listening to speech. Thus phonemes that differ only in one production feature sound similar to each other; phonemes that differ in multiple features sound more distinct. This is reflected in the pattern of errors subjects make, when they try to understand speech in a noisy environment. Subjects misperceptions are usually off by just one feature, so that [p] is confused with [b] (a difference only in voicing), [p] with [t] (a difference only in place of articulation), and so on… This makes it seem like the perception of speech may be a straightforward matter: A small number of features is sufficient to characterise any particular speech sound. All the perceiver needs to do, therefore is detect these features and, with this done, the speech sounds are identified… As it turns out, though, speech perception is far more complicated than this.” (p.351). One of the problems is that “within [a] stream of speech there are no markers to indicate where one phoneme ends and the next begins. Likewise, there are often no gaps, or signals of any sort, to indicate the boundaries between successive syllables or successive words. Thus, as a first step prior to phoneme identification, you need to “slice” this stream into the appropriate segments – a step known as speech segmentation.” Reisberg points out that common sense suggests to us that we are usually convinced that there are pauses between words that mark word boundaries for us, but, he argues, this is an illusion and that we often ‘hear’ pauses that aren’t there. An example is when we measure the speech stream captured by a recording device on sequencing software, or when we listen to a foreign language we don’t know so are unable to put the word boundaries in ourselves, so as a consequence we hear a continuous, uninterrupted flow of sound. Another problem is coarticulation which refers to the fact that in speech we do not utter one phoneme at a time, they overlap. So as you are uttering the ‘s’ in soup your mouth is already saying the next vowel and so on to the next phoneme. “These complications – the need for segmentation in a continuous speech stream; the variations caused by coarticulation; and the variations form speaker to speaker or form occasion to occasion – render speech perception surprisingly complex.” (p.353). So how do we manage it? Well, we are generally able to supplement what we hear with expectations (conventions) and knowledge, our Lebensweld, and this guides our interpretation. This can also lead to ‘restoration effects’ where subjects hear ‘speech’ sounds that are not presented. However, generally, inferences are used to fill in gaps, as are redundancies (such as the predictability of certain conventions with regards phonemes in the English language).
However these are not the only means we have for deciphering speech, there is also categorical perception, this is the trendency to hear speech sounds ‘merely’ as members of a category e.g. the category of [z] sounds or the category of [p] sounds. But Reisberg continues “more precisely, we are quite adept ay hearing differences between categories, but we are relatively insensitive to variations within the category” (p.354), so we are better at distinguishing [p] from [b] but not so much amongst differing [p]s, Reisberg argues that “of course ,this insensitivity is precisely what we want, since it allows us to separate the wheat from the chaff: We easily detect what category a sound belongs in, but we are virtually oblivious to the inconsequential (and potentially distracting) background variations.” (p.354). But what about more complicated sounds? English speakers use 40 phonemes, but these can be combined and recombined to create tens of thousands of different morphemes, which can then themselves be combined to form even more words. These combinations though are not random. There are patterns to these combinations, some common, some rarer. The average person knows from around 45,000 to over 100,000 different words. For each of these words the speaker must know the meaning that corresponds to the words’ sound, that is our knowledge of words must be able to tie together the phonological representation with the semantic representation. With regards the idea of concepts that Vygotsky refers to, where at age 12 the average person moves from complex thinking to conceptual thinking, there is a connection between semantic knowledge and conceptual knowledge. Some concepts are harder than others to express in words, other concepts take many words to express. Even so there are many words that express single concepts and generally speaking on can only understand a word’s meaning if one understands the relevant concepts attached to it. Some argue that to understand a word one needs to know its definition, others that one must understand the prototype for the concept named by the word. Generally though words are used to name objects or events in the world around us. What a word refers to is called the referent. Saussure says that with the word H-O-R-S-E, where the concept of horse is what is signified, the referent is what ‘kicks you’. Thus the referent always means the actual thing in the real world, to which a word or a concept points. With regards the reference to Deleuze above the signifier is the pointing finger, the word, the sound-image whilst the signified is the concept, the meaning, the thing indicated by the signifier. The thing signified is created in the perceiver and is internal to them. Whilst we share concepts, we do so via signifiers. the signifier creates the signified in terms of the meaning it triggers for us. The meaning of a sign needs both the signifier and the signified as created by an interpreter. A signifier without a signified is noise. A signified without a signifier is impossible. Take for example The Prime Minister of the UK. The reference to any particular living person changes, but the meaning itself, the position within government and its relation to the governance of a nation state has more stability. With regards the meaning of the signified being created in the perceiver, the meaning of the term Prime Minister of the UK will be different for a Labour supporter than for a Conservative voter; for an anarchist than for staunch supporter of representative democracy. However the concept referred to by the signifier, that a particular person is the head of the government at a particular time remains more stable and allows the Conservative and the Labour supporter to know that they are referring ot the same position, as much as possible.
In addition to referent we may find that two or more phrases refer to the same objects in the world but mean different things. This case of ‘same reference, different meaning’ means there must be more to meaning than reference. This is called the ‘sense’ of a word. For example ‘creature with a heart’ and ‘creature with kidneys’ can refer to the same type of living organism.
The next article we will look at the psychological reality of linguistic rules before returning to the underpinning thoughts, and then we will take another look at what Deleuze and Guattari are trying to say.


‘Sin your way to heaven and get slaughtered: A byzantine general problem of the self’ (part fourteen)

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on October 17, 2018 @ 8:00 am

To sum up with regards Vygotsky and inner speech, “Inner speech is not the interior aspect of exterior speech – it is a function in itself. It still remains speech, i.e. thought connected with words. But while in external speech thought is embodied in words, in inner speech words die as they bring forth thought. Inner speech is to a large extent thinking in pure meanings. It is a dynamic, shifting, unstable thing, fluttering between word and thought, the two more or less stable, more or less firmly delineated components of verbal thought. Its true nature and place can be understood only after examining the next plane of verbal thought, the one still more inward than inner speech.” (p.249). It is for this reason I have spent some time examining Vygotsky, as I would like to look further at the unconscious and its relation to voice hearing. We have looked at Freud and anxiety, Gombrich and projection, and we have looked at Reisberg and cognition’s relation to language, we have looked at Jaynes’ consciousness of consciousness. But what is it being projected? And what, if anything, is reflected back? For that reason I want to look at Deleuze and machines, if only as a stepping stone to Marx on machines in the Grundrisse. But for a moment let us carry on with Vygotsky. “That plane [the one still more inward] is thought itself. As we have said, every thought creates a connection, fulfils a function, solves a problem. The flow of thought is not accompanied by a simultaneous unfolding of speech. The two processes are not identical, and there is no rigid correspondence between the units of thought and speech” (p.249). He points out that “thought has its own structure and the transition from it to speech is no easy matter.” (p.250). Vygotsky continues “every sentence that we say in real life has some kind of subtext, a thought hidden behind it… thought unlike speech, does not consist of separate units… a speaker often takes several minutes to disclose one thought. In his mind the whole thought is present at once, but in speech it has to be developed successively. A thought may be compared to a cloud shedding a shower of words. Precisely because thought does not have its automatic counterpart in words, the transition from thought to word leads through meaning. In our speech there is always the hidden thought, the subtext.” (p.251). With regards the pursuit of the question, not only what gets projected, but also what gets reflected, in voice hearing it is useful to note that Vygotsky brings up a character from an Uspensky novel who finds himself unable to express himself in front of an authority figure: “experience teaches us that thought does not express itself in words, but rather realises itself in them. Sometimes such realisation cannot be accomplished, as in the case of Uspensky’s character. We must ask, does this character know what he is going to think about? Yes, but he does it as one who wants to remember something but is unable to. Does he start thinking? Yes, but again he does it as one who is absorbed in remembering. Does he succeed in turning his thought into a process? No. The problem is that thought is mediated by signs externally, but it is also mediated internally, this time by word meanings. Direct communication between minds is impossible, not only physically but psychologically. Communication can be achieved only in a roundabout way. Thought must first pass through meanings and only then through words.” (p.251-252).
However Vygotsky follows this with the argument that “thought is not the superior authority in this process. Thought is not begotten by thought; it is engendered by motivation, i.e., by our desires and needs, our interests and emotions. Behind every thought there is an affective-volitional tendency which holds the answer to the last ‘why’ in the analysis of thinking. A true and full understanding of another’s thought is possible only when we understand its affective-volitional basis… to understand another’s speech, it is not sufficient to understand his words – we must understand his thought. But even that is not enough – we must also know its motivation. No psychological analysis of an utterance is complete until that plain is reached.” (p. 252-253). He concludes “Only a historical theory of inner speech can deal with this immense and complex problem. The relation between thought and word is a living process; thought is born through words. A word devoid of thought is a dead thing… But thought that fails to realise itself in words also remains a ‘Stygian shadow’. Hegel considered word as Being animated by thought. This Being is absolutely essential for our thinking.” (p.255). Vygotsky ends saying that as the basic characteristic of words is a generalised reflection of reality then “this aspect of the word brings us to the threshold of a wider and deeper subject, i.e., the problem of the relation between word and consciousness. If perceptive consciousness and intellectual consciousness reflect reality differently, then we have two different forms of consciousness. Thought and speech turn out to be the key to the nature of consciousness… If language is as old as consciousness itself, and if language is a practical-consciousness-for-others and consequently, consciousness-for-myself, then not only one particular thought but all consciousness is connected to the development of the word. The word is a thing in our consciousness, as Ludwig Feuerbach put it, that is absolutely impossible for one person, but that becomes a reality for two. The word is a direct expression of the historical nature of human consciousness.” (p.256).
With regards this historical nature of human conscious, as a contemporary analysis of voice hearing and psychosis, then we have to deal with the existence in this ‘external world of signs’ of machines, at least since the advent of the Industrial Revolution and their relation to the development of capitalism, and this capitalism’s relation to consciousness-for-myself and its relation to the formation of subjectivity.
In the book Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari discuss their understanding of ‘machines’, they claim that “a machine may be defined as a system of interruptions or breaks (coupures). These breaks should in no way be considered as a separation from reality; rather, they operate along lines that vary according to whatever aspect of them we are considering. Every machine in the first place, is related to a continual material flow (hyle) that it cuts into.” (p.36). This theory of machines is related to Melanie Klein’s theory of partial objects, but is a more cybernetic variation, so it focuses on the flow between the connections, and the role of those connections in starting or stopping the flow of material (hyle) such as water in a hydraulic system, or say sense data in the body. This is related to the ‘body without organs’ (“eyes closed tight, nostrils pinched shut, ears stopped up” (p.37-38)) which with regards the child relates to a regression to the womb, although as such is still a ‘machine’ as foetuses are connected up to the flow of the mother’s body via the placenta. However with regards hyle such as ‘sense data’ we start getting an idea of their attempt to describe the workings of the unconscious and its relation to physiological flows, connections and disconnections. “Far from being the opposite of continuity, the break or interruption conditions this continuity: it presupposes or defines what it cuts into as an ideal continuity. This is because… every machine is a machine of a machine. The machine produces an interruption of the flow insofar as it is connected to another machine that supposedly produces this flow. And doubtless this second machine in turn is really an interruption or break, too. But it is such only in relationship to a third machine that ideally – that is to say, relatively – produces a continuous, infinite flux… In a word, every machine functions as a break in the flow in relation to the machine to which it is connected, but at the same time is also a flow itself, or the production of a flow, in relation to the machine connected to it. That is why, at the limit point of all the transverse or transfinite connections, the partial object and the continuous flux, the interruption and the connection, fuse into one: everywhere there are breaks-flows out of which desire wells up, thereby constituting its productivity and continually grafting the process of production onto the product.” (p.36-37).
As implied in the title, this series of articles are leading up to a coding problem known as the Byzantine General Problem, this coding problem is a problem of message transmission, or communication, we will get to that in a few more articles, but in the meantime here is Deleuze and Guattari on this issue, “every machine has a sort of code built into it, stored up inside of it. The code is inseparable not only from the way in which it is recorded and transmitted to each of the different regions of the body, but also from the way in which the relations of each of the regions with all the others are recorded. An organ may have connections that associate it with several different flows; it may waver between several functions, and even take on the regime of another organ… All sorts of functional questions thus arise: what flow to break? Where to interrupt it? How and by what means? What place should be left for other producers or antiproducers?… The data, the bits of information recorded, and their transmission form a grid of disjunctions of a type that differs from the previous connections. We owe to Jacques Lacan the discovery of this fertile domain of a code of the unconscious, incorporating the entire chain – or several chains – of meaning.” (p.38).


The Mussel Memory of the Soft Machine (or Don’t Clam Up, Mr Walrus)

Filed under:poetry — posted by Schizostroller on October 16, 2018 @ 1:38 pm

de la machine moules
avec le pomme frite
sur l’épaule
en raison de le désir
pour la belle âme


Ethic effort

Filed under:poetry — posted by Schizostroller on @ 10:41 am

The nine-to-five
theses of the Protestant
work ethic,
nailed to the door
of the church
of striving.
Nine to Five
of Pentacles.


Cognitive dissonance and the effects of austerity

Filed under:Brief arguments — posted by Schizostroller on October 14, 2018 @ 9:20 am

Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are
presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new
evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is
extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it
is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize,
ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.

Franz Fanon

Sometimes it is as if I am surrounded by a Laingian authoritarian nexus that has such cognitive dissonance about the very real negative effects of austerity on mental health (and in my case the reality of having a child with high Care DLA who needs services that have been cut) that they want me to ‘get lost’, a ‘death wish’. This death wish expects me to do the work of denying my own circumstances, rights, reality so that their precious ideological core beliefs can remain unchallenged by the evidence that I bring about my own reality. Other times it as if it is austerity itself that is the ‘death wish’. Perhaps even the ‘squeezed middle’ are struggling so much that they would rather exploit us at the bottom to maximise their individual utility than deal with how utterly atrocious austerity is.

But then, when I try to ‘get lost’ even by just ‘keeping on keeping on’ they chase after me for not getting lost the way they want me to get lost (for example Procrustean recovery methods combined with Karpman Drama Triangles), and I realise, it austerity, austerity is that bad, but it IS them too.


A psychotic’s occupation

Filed under:Random notes — posted by Schizostroller on October 2, 2018 @ 12:54 pm

“Why did you do a nonsense word salad when that guy was demeaning?”
“Trying to elude control, giving flack to the Rule 150, by making some fucking noise”
“Surely it would be better to recover and get a job and then he wouldn’t pick on you”
“Signifyin’ is a psychotic’s occupation, who says I am out of work?
I’d say my occupation is to point out there’s no room for just world victim blaming in social justice, but it’s not my job to educate you.


‘Sin your way to heaven and get slaughtered: A byzantine general problem of the self’ (part thirteen)

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on September 21, 2018 @ 10:17 am

Carrying on with Vygotsky, he argues that “the relation of thought and word cannot be understood in all its complexity without a clear understanding of the psychological nature of inner speech” (p.224). There are several varied understandings on the term inner speech: inner speech understood as verbal memory, such as reciting a poem known by heart, this sort differs from vocal speech only as an idea or image on an object differs from the real object. Vygotsky argues that this type is a constituent element of inner speech but not all of it. Others such as the behaviourist Watson see it as truncated speech – speech minus sound or subvocal speech, according to Ivan Schenov a ‘reflex arrested after it travels two-thirds of its way’; according to Vladmir Bekhterev ‘a speech reflex inhibited in its motor part’. Again Vygotsky suggests these are subordinate interpretations but grossly inadequate alone. A third version Vygotsky finds too broad, the definition that covers everything that precedes the motor act of speaking, he protests that “it is hard to accept the equation of inner speech with an inarticulate inner experience in which the separate identifiable structural planes are dissolved without a trace” (p.225).
According to Vygotsky “inner speech is speech for oneself; external speech is for others. It would be surprising if such a basic difference in function did not affect the structure of the two kinds of speech… absence of vocalisation per se is only a consequence of the specific character of inner speech, which is neither an antecedent of external speech nor its reproduction in memory, but is, in a sense, the opposite of external speech. The latter is the turning of thoughts into words, their materialisation and objectification. With inner speech, the process is reversed, going from outside to inside. Overt speech sublimates into thoughts. Consequently, the structures of these two kinds of speech must differ.” (p.225-226).
As has been discussed Vygotsky, from his observations, thinks that inner speech develops from egocentric speech, so egocentric speech must provide the key to inner speech. Vygotsky sees egocentric speech as a phenomenon of the transition from interpsychic to intrapsychic functioning., speech for oneself originates through differentiation from speech for others, as the course of child development is one of gradual individualisation this tendency is reflected in the function and structure of speech. Egocentric speech “does not merely accompany the child’s activity; it serves mental orientation, conscious understanding; it helps in overcoming difficulties; it is speech for oneself, intimately and usefully connected with the child’s thinking… Egocentric speech develops along a rising, not a declining, curve; it goes through an evolution, not an involution. In the end it becomes inner speech.” (p.228).
Vygotsky notes that if as the quantity of egocentric speech decreases with age, then comprehensibility should decrease too, but he observes in his investigations that whilst the quantity of egocentric speech decreases as the quantity of social speech increases, between ages 3 to 7 unintelligibility of egocentric speech increases (as the quantity decreases). He asks “What does this decrease mean? The structural peculiarities of speech for oneself and its differentiation from external speech increase with age. What is it, then, that diminishes? Only one of its aspects: vocalisation. Does this mean that egocentric speech as a whole is dying out? We believe it does not, for how then could we explain the growth of the functional and structural traits of egocentric speech? On the one hand their growth is perfectly compatible with the decrease of vocalisation – indeed, clarifies its meaning. Its rapid dwindling and the equally rapid growth of other characteristics are contradictory in appearance only.” (p.229).
Vygotsky’s explanation of the development of inner speech proceeds as follows “The structural and functional qualities of egocentric speech become more marked as the child develops. At three, the difference between egocentric speech and social speech equals zero; at seven, we have speech that in structure and function is totally unlike social speech. A differentiation of the two speech functions has taken place… If the developing structural and functional peculiarities of egocentric speech progressively isolate it from external speech, then its vocal aspect must fade away; and this is exactly what happens between three and seven years. With the progressive isolation of speech for oneself, its vocalisation becomes unnecessary and meaningless and, because of its growing structural peculiarities, also impossible. Speech for oneself cannot find expression in external speech. The more independent and autonomous egocentric speech becomes, the poorer it grows in its external manifestations. In the end, it separates itself entirely from speech for others, ceases to be vocalised and thus appears to die out… but this is only an illusion… in reality, behind the symptoms of dissolution lies a progressive development, the birth of a new speech form… The decreasing vocalisation of egocentric speech denotes a developing abstraction from sound, the child’s new faculty to “think words” instead of pronouncing them. This is the positive meaning of the sinking coefficient of egocentric speech. The downward curve indicates development toward inner speech… We can see that all the known facts about the functional, structural, and genetic characteristics of egocentric speech point to one thing: it develops in the direction of inner speech. Its development history can be understood only as a gradual unfolding of the traits of inner speech.” (p.230-231).
Vygotsky’s experiments convinced him that inner speech must be regarded as an entirely separate speech function from external speech, “its main characteristic trait is its peculiar syntax. Compared with external speech, inner speech appears disconnected and incomplete.” (p.235). He continues “observing the evolution of the child’s egocentric speech step by step, we may discover that it becomes more and more peculiar and ultimately becomes inner speech. We applied the genetic method and found that as egocentric speech develops, it shows a tendency toward an altogether specific form of abbreviation, namely: omitting the subject of a sentence and all words connected with it, while preserving the predicate. This tendency towards predication appears in all our experiments with such regularity that we must assume it to be the basic form of syntax of inner speech.” (p.236). Vygotsky goes on to use examples from Tolstoy, specifically Kitty and Levin from Anna Karenina, and Pushkin’s poem of the deaf judge and two deaf men. The Kitty and Levin example exemplifies “the mutual understanding that can be achieved through utterly abbreviated speech when the subject is the same in two minds” (p.239) whilst the Pushkin example exemplifies “total misunderstanding, even with full speech, when people’s thoughts wander in different directions. It is not only the deaf who cannot understand one another but any two people who give a different meaning to the same word or who hold divergent views” (p.239). Vygotsky points out that whilst such is the occurrence of abbreviation in external speech, in inner speech the phenomenon is not an exception but the rule. In writing, communication “relies on the formal meanings of words and requires a much greater number of words than oral speech to convey the same idea. It is addressed to an absent person who rarely has in mind the same subject as the writer. Therefore it must be fully deployed; syntactic differentiation is at a maximum; and expressions are used that would seem unnatural in conversation” (p.239-240) “Written speech and inner speech represent the monologue; oral speech in most cases dialogue… dialogue always presupposes in the partners sufficient knowledge of the subject to permit abbreviated speech and, under certain conditions, purely predicative sentences. It also presupposes that each person can see his partners, their facial expressions and gestures, and hear the tone of their voices.” (p.240). This includes modulation of voices as shown by Tolstoy’s story of the drunkards changing the tone of expression of a curse word and understanding a larger meaning. “The speed of oral speech is unfavourable to a complicated process of formulation – it does not leave time for deliberation and choice. Dialogue implies immediate unpremeditated utterance. It consists of replies, repartee; it is a chain of reactions. Monologue, by comparison, is a complex formation; the linguistic elaboration can be attended to leisurely and consciously… In written speech, lacking situational and expressive supports, communication must be achieved only through words and their combinations; this requires the speech activity to take complicated forms – hence the use of first drafts. The evolution from the draft to the final copy reflects our mental processes. Planning has an important part in written speech, even when we do not actually write out a draft. Usually we say to ourselves what we are going to write; this is also a draft, though in thought only… this mental draft is inner speech… inner speech functions as a draft not only in written speech but also in oral speech… [except with] a tendency toward abbreviation and predication… This tendency, never found in written speech and only sometimes in oral speech, arises in inner speech always. Predication is the natural form of inner speech; psychologically it consists of predicates only. It is as much a law of inner speech to omit subjects as it is a law of written speech to contain both subjects and predicates… Those factors responsible for abbreviation in oral speech are inevitably present in inner speech. We know what we are thinking about; i.e., we always know the subject and situation. And since the subject of our inner dialogue is already known, we may just imply it… Piaget once mentioned that we trust ourselves without proof; the necessity to defend and articulate one’s position appears only in a conversation with others. Psychological contact between partners in a conversation may establish a mutual perception leading to the understanding of abbreviated speech. In inner speech the ‘mutual’ perception is always there, in absolute form; therefore a practically wordless ‘communication’ of even the most complicated thoughts is the rule… the predominance of predication is a product of development. In the beginning, egocentric speech is identical in structure with social speech, but in the process of its transformation into inner speech, it gradually becomes less complete and coherent as it becomes governed by an almost entirely predicative syntax. Experiments show clearly how and why the new syntax takes hold. The child talks about the things he sees or hears or does at a given moment. As a result, he tends to leave out the subject and all words connected with it, condensing his speech more and more until only predicates are left. The more differentiated the speech function of egocentric speech becomes, the more pronounced are its syntactic peculiarities – simplification and predication. Hand in hand with this change goes decreasing vocalisation. When we converse with ourselves, we need fewer words than Kitty and Levin did. Inner speech is speech almost without words. ” (p.242-244).
Vygotsky continues “with syntax and sound reduced to a minimum, meaning is more than ever in the forefront. Inner speech works with semantics, not phonetics. The specific semantic structure of inner speech is no less original than its grammatical syntax… The first and basic one is the preponderance of the sense [smysl] of a word over its meaning [znachenie]… the sense of a word [according to Frederic Paulhan]… is the sum of all the psychological events aroused in our consciousness by the word. It is a dynamic, fluid, complex whole, which has several zones of unequal stability. Meaning is only one of the zones of sense, the most stable and precise zone. A word acquires its sense from the context in which it appears; in different contexts, it changes its sense. Meaning remains stable throughout the changes of sense. The dictionary meaning of a word is no more than a stone in the edifice of sense, no more than a potentiality that finds diversified realisation in speech.” (p.244-245).
Vygotsky uses the translation of Krylov’s ‘The dragonfly and the ant’ to illustrate the difference between sense and meaning, he shows that the statement ‘Go and dance!’ can both mean ‘Enjoy yourself!’ and ‘Perish!’ “This enrichment of words by the sense they gain from context is the fundamental law of the dynamics of word meanings. A word in a context means both more and less than the same word in isolation: more because it acquires new context; less, because its meaning is limited and narrowed by the context. The sense of a word… is a complex, mobile, protean phenomenon; it changes in different minds and situations and is almost unlimited. A word derives its sense from the sentence, which in turn gets its sense from the paragraph, the paragraph from the book, the book from all the works of the author… the relation between word and sense…are much more independent of each other than word and meaning. It has long been known that words can change their sense. Recently it has been pointed out that sense can change words or, better, that ideas often change their names. Just as the sense of a word is connected with the whole word, and not with its single sounds, the sense of a sentence is connected with the whole sentence, and not with its individual words. Therefore, a word may sometimes be replaced without any change in sense. Words and sense are relatively independent of each other… in oral speech, we move from the central and permanent meaning of the word to its soft fringes and ultimately to its sense. In inner speech, this prevalence of sense over meaning, of sentence over word, and of context over sentence is the rule.” (p245-246). There are, however, other semantic peculiarities of inner speech, both of which concern word combination. One is agglutination, “when several words are merged into one word, the new word not only expresses a rather complex idea, but designates all the separate elements contained in that idea… the egocentric speech of the child displays some analogous phenomena. As egocentric speech approaches inner speech, the child uses agglutination more and more as a way of forming compound words to express complex ideas.” (p.246). the other basic semantic peculiarity of inner speech “is the way in which sense of words combine and unite – a process governed by different laws from those governing combinations of meanings.” (p.246). this is called ‘influx of sense’. “The sense of different words flow into one another – literally ‘influence’ one another – so that the earlier ones are contained in, and modify, the later ones.” (p.246-247). For example when a word that keeps recurring in a book or poem “sometimes absorbs all the variety of sense contained in it and becomes, in a way, equivalent to the work itself.” (p.247). “In inner speech, the phenomenon reaches its peak. A single word is so saturated with sense that… it becomes a concentrate of sense. To unfold it into overt speech, one would need a multitude of words… no wonder that egocentric speech and inner speech are incomprehensible to others. To understand a child’s egocentric utterance, one should know beforehand the subject of the child’s speech and the circumstances of the child’s communication.” (p.247). Vygotsky then mentions that there is one further factor contributing to the peculiarity of inner speech as reduced sound, idiosyncratic syntax and semantics that further adds to the opaqueness inner speech. This is argot or initiated dialects, “in inner speech, the same kind of idiom develops – the kind that is difficult to translate into the language of ordinary communicative speech.” (p.248).
“Actually, any attempt to impose multifaceted sense on word results in the creation of an original idiom. In inner speech, one word stands for a number of thoughts and feelings, and sometimes substitutes for a long and profound discourse. And naturally this unique inner sense of the chosen word cannot be translated into ordinary external speech. Inner sense turns out to be incommensurable with the external meaning of the same word.” (p.248). Vygotsky concludes “all our observations indicate that inner speech is an autonomous speech function. We can confidently regard it as a distinct plane of verbal thought. It is evident that the transition from inner speech to external speech is not a simple translation from one language into another. It cannot be achieved by merely vocalising silent speech. It is a complex, dynamic process involving the transformation of the predicative, idiomatic structure of inner speech into syntactically articulated speech intelligible to others.” (p.249).


The Jesus Con

Filed under:Brief arguments — posted by Schizostroller on September 20, 2018 @ 5:42 pm

“The Jesus Con”

I first heard this name for this con game on Sneaky Pete, however I already knew the game, the band Nomeansno sing about it on the album Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed.

It’s a con of three parts. Used not just by religious groups and cults but by secular con men and political as well.

Part 1: Small, parts isolated and destroyed

Find the target (often already in a vulnerable position and struggling eg homeless).
Phish and gaslight. Phishing involves getting information about the person, either by research, intrerviewing those who have known in the victim in the past, especially negative comments, crimes or bullied names, ex partners, friends names. Then gaslight bring up things from past, haunt them, bully them morally, use NLP and harrassment, mention stuff just out of range then deny saying anything. Make the person worry and fret. Prime them to think about things you want them to think about by bringing stuff up regularly. Stop them focusing on their own needs by a war of attrition.
Isolate them. Make sure they lose touch with support base, say bad things about friends and family. Spread malicious gossip about them so people turn aganist them. People may even unwittingly join in small parts isolated and destroyed game voluntarily. Make the target paranoid.. Wear them out so they cancel engagements. If they have a date arranged in advance keep them up all night so they can’t go out next day. So friends give up on them.

part 2: In comes Jesus, the saviour

As the person is on their knees begging for mercy, in comes someone who can help. Unknown to the target this person is part of the small parts isolated and destroyed team. Offer a way out as long as the target recognises moral authority of small parts isolated and destroyed team. ‘for your own good’. The target relieved of the oppressive pressure has a high level of relief even ecstatic. Offers self up to saviour.

part 3, the saviour needs financial help.

Whilst the target is still on a high from being saved, but after giving unwavering trust to rescuer, the rescuer mentions they need help, often money, but in religious (and some political) they expect groups allegiance and obedience to moral law of small parts isolated and destroyed group in return for rescue. Take money. Either leave or continue feeding off target.

At a social and political level, this is played out in mental health recovery, where austerity and the economic and politcal system in general, disrespectful of mental health issues and trauma, grinds people down.
Professionals and peers (hegemonically on the system’s team, through elective affinities, class position and status) rescue the victim, on the proviso they toe the line and acknowledge that these moral failings were self-generated.
The attention from the rescuer and the mental relief leads the victim to go on to do the same to others with evangelist passion.
If they however, though no necessaary fault of their own, crash again ,they are quickly dropped ‘from the team’. To be isolated and destroyed again.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace