Monday, November 06, 2006

The Silence of Polyglots

Not speaking one's mother tongue. Living with resonances and reasoning that are cut off from the body's nocturnal mem­ory, from the bittersweet slumber of childhood. Bearing within oneself like a secret vault, or like a handicapped child—cherished and useless—that language of the past that withers without ever leaving you. You improve your ability with another instrument, as one expresses oneself with algebra or the violin. You can become a virtuoso with this new device that moreover gives you a new body, just as artificial and sublimated—some say sublime. You have a feeling that the new language is a resurrection: new skin, new sex. But the illusion bursts when you hear, upon listening to a recording, for instance, that the melody of your voice comes back to you as a peculiar sound, out of nowhere, closer to the old spluttering than to today's code. Your awkward­ness has its charm, they say, it is even erotic, according to womanizers, not to be outdone. No one points out your mistakes, so as not to hurt your feelings, and then there are so many, and after all they don't give a damn. One nevertheless lets you know that it is irritating just the same. Occasionally, raising the eye­brows or saying "I beg your pardon?" in quick succession lead you to understand that you will "never be a part of it", that it "is not worth it," that there, at least, one is "not taken in." (…) Thus, between two languages, your realm is silence. By dint of saying things in various ways, one just as trite as the other, just as approximate, one ends up no longer saying them.
Stuck within that polymorphic mutism, the foreigner can, instead of saying, attempt doing—house-cleaning, playing ten­nis, soccer, sailing, sewing, horseback riding, jogging, getting pregnant, what have you. It remains an expenditure, it expends, and it propagates silence even more. Who listens to you? At the most, you are being tolerated. Anyway, do you really want to speak?

Why then did you cut off the maternal source of words? What did you dream up concerning those new people you spoke to in an artificial language, a prosthesis? From your standpoint, were they idealized or scorned? Come, now! Silence has not only been forced upon you, it is within you: a refusal to speak, a fitful sleep riven to an anguish that wants to remain mute, the private property of your proud and mortified discretion, that silence is a harsh light. Nothing to say, nothingness, no one on the horizon. An impervious fullness: cold diamond, secret treasury, carefully protected, out of reach. Saying nothing, nothing needs to be said, nothing can be said. At first, it was a cold war with those of the new idiom, desired and rejecting; then the new language covered you as might a slow tide, a neap tide. It is not the silence of anger that jostles words at the edge of the idea and the mouth; rather, it is the silence that empties the mind and fills the brain with despondency, like the gaze of sorrowful women coiled up in some nonexistant eternity.

Julia Kristeva "Strangers to Ourselves"

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Friday, November 03, 2006


[This post is actually from Friday, but I forgot to post it and haven't been at home since then. And I've managed to twist my ankle :( Now, when I was looking forward to the first day off and going out in the Marka (check out the picture!! It's Sørkedalen and I was actually living there in 2 years!!! How funny it was to find this on the wiki) or do something fun ... grrr. nevermind. what I wrote on Friday:

Jiippii! Finished writting. It wasn't actually so bad as I had thought. Did I underestimated something? I mean that the assignment question was much more useful that I had supposed. Typisk... I am not totally satisfied with what I had written but I feel good with the thought process I had to go through. Really helpful to my future work. What I have mainly used to illustrate that "a methodological approach can not be dissociated from a theoretical approach":
  • Gupta og Ferguson - critique of "fieldwork" as a result of a dualistic theoretical perspective and understanding of culture as place bounded..... and of course critique of "exotification" of "the others" by Horace Miner (pdf) READ THIS!!!
  • Appadurai - globalization and challenges to traditional methods - ethnoscapes and locality
  • Hastrup - about ethnographic presence and realisme - I-witnessing (Geertz)
  • Postmodernism, deconstructionism and multivocality - reflection over anthropologists' status and authority
  • Research techniques - lack of standardized ethnographic methodological canons (Jackson)
  • Hermeneutic and symbolism, public meanings and observation, "thick descriptions" - Geertz
  • Phenomenology as a theory and research method - Merleau-Ponty, Stoller, Jackson (from Sanjek)
  • Phenomenology and landscape studies, taking materiality seriously - Tilley, Ingold, also some Callon (pdf)
  • Texts, text analysis and intertextuality - Clifford, Barnes and Duncan, Barthes, Iser
  • Discursive data, narratives, discourse - Smith, Dauite & Loghtfoot, Good, Foucault - all methods can be justifiable from the point of view of theoretical paradigm...
Something like this. And some others...
Jiippi. Finished anyway, whatever happens. Free weekend! Hmm, not actually. Taking subway in 20 minutes and go to FAFO to continue surveys... It feels fine.

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