shot through with intentions and accents
July 2, 2012, 10:49 pm
Filed under: brave new world, unseen world | Tags: , ,

We used to think Canada and Switzerland were neutral.  Small countries without much influence, ineffective armies, reliant on diplomacy and being nice.  Now Canada is known as a rather slutty broker for minerals, ores and natural resources and Switzerland is where our fat cats go to hide their ill gotten lucre.  Neutrality in the globalized market fundamentalized 21st century?  How naive.

When I did my liberal arts undergrad, the curriculum was Western historical canon dominated.  But there were whispers and agitations from speculative and peripheral schools.  They were called ‘readings:’  feminist reading, Marxist reading, gender reading etc.

Believing a country can be neutral is like believing there is one grand historical or political etc truth.  Countries and institutions and schools are logically as willful as the people who run them.

Words, the base element in every political act, aren’t neutral either.  Each jot and tittle brims with intention and nuance.  Every inflection meant to sway or to push right to and even over the breach.

Here’s Mikhail Bakhtin on how words are fully corrupted by influence:

“As a result of the stratifying forces in language, there are no ‘neutral’ words and forms––words and forms that can belong to ‘no one’; language has been completely taken over, shot through with intentions and accents. For any individual consciousness living in it, language is not an abstract system…but rather a concrete heteroglot conception of the world. All the words have the ‘taste’ of a profession, a genre, a tendency, a party, a particular work, a particular person, a generation, an age group, the day and hour…all words are populated by intentions…

Mikhail Bakhtin, “Discourse in the Novel,” The Dialogic Imagination

Dialogic Tectonic, Scott Francisco


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