Saturday, April 17, 2004

I have taken up again with Bakhtin and...I have begun working through the 3 Volumes of Mikhail Bakhtin: Sage Masters of Modern Thought, edited by Michael E. Gardiner (also responsible for the devastating Dialogics of Critique). So far it has been Vol. 2, (Key Concepts) and I must say I am impressed (I would buy the set if I could come up with the 7500 kronor cost on Bokus). Wlad Godzich "Correcting Kant: Bakhtin and Intercultural Relations" takes me to exactly where I wanted to go with the revision of Kant by Bakhtin. At the risk of copyright infringement I would like to quote a portion of his essay as it is a brilliant summary of the precursory in Bakhtinian Dialogics:

"Bakhtin formulates the notion of aesthetic activity as something modeled on practical activity. Just as the ethical act was called for by the ability of the understanding to provide guidance in some conflict resolution, so aesthetic activity must take up the failure of the theoretical. We should note that the ethical acts derive not from any underlying theory but from a failure of the theoretical gaze and that the act is meant to take the place of theoretical cognition; it has epistemological import. In other words we are beginning to see the relativization of the theoretical. Both the theoretical and the practical are constructivist: the first constructs the world of nature as we would have it, while the second constructs the human world. The aesthetic is meant to bring them together, to complete the one by the other, but there is a crucial difference. The theoretical and the practical are both grounded in a priori and can therefore aspire to some transcendental status (through Reason or its Idea). The aesthetic is, however, grounded in the domain of experience: It experiences the world as the theoretical and the practical have already pre-given it to us; it cannot possibly aspire to a transcendental status; it is caught in the finite; hence, the completion that is effected by the aesthetic act is always provisional, it must always be done all over again. In other words we have an epistemological predicament to which the aesthetic act is a response but one that always allows us to live with our predicament, just as the aesthetic act allows us to engage in political acts in the absence of theoretical justification."
Wlad Godzich?Correcting Kant: Bakhtin and Intercultural Relations in Mikhail Bakhtin: Sage Masters of Modern Thought Vol.2 pp8-9

The "beginning of relativization of the theoretical" I see as the beginning of the formation of Post-modernist thought whereby the monologue of Reason is challenged as discourse. Considering this as what the Bakhtin Circle was doing in the 1920's gives some idea of the breadth and scope of intellectual circles in St. Petersburg following the 1917 revolution. Godzich even states in the same essay that "The Circle....lived as a sort of commune from 1919 to 1926".

Another piece of reading I've undertaken today was an article by famed Australian thinker and feminist Germaine Greer on a theme discussed in Jill.txt last year: The Australian Diaspora...which goes away but won't go away I suppose you could say.....One million of us have left the land of Oz and more are following....amazing really! Will we be the first post-colonial land to empty itself voluntarily? Will there be a farewell ceremony at La Perouse when the last boat of whites leaves the land to the care of what remains of the traditional owners? Probably not....................

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