Monday, January 16, 2012

I-I-I-I.1

I just didn't feel like writing last night. After watching the Golden Globes with John and Melinda, which was fun despite Ricky's tepid "hosting", I came back upstairs to finish watching the first two episodes of Downton Abbey and get some ironing done. Then, it was late and ... enough already.

Yes, I am pretty down about life at the moment. Even deep breaths don't seem to help much. The weather forecast is that it will be warmer today, all the way up to the mid-30s, so I should venture out a bit later.

The financial layer would be challenging enough, but the "gosh, what do I really want to do and then how do I do it?" layer is crushing. I'm not aspiring to be VP of Development at HBO or an executive producer with David Simon. I don't know. Enough I.

The sun is shining right now and I have things to pack and ship from the close of eBay sales last night.

Meanwhile, Iris commented on I-1-I-I


My dear Sally Anne –

I think the kind of positive, productive, though self-deprecating, self-awareness that Pennebaker is talking about requires a correlate awareness of the other which Pennebaker doesn’t articulate. When he talks about the use of in conversation as a submissive gesture, an announcement of self-awareness as vulnerability, the implication is that the speaker not only is considering the self but also is aware of and considering the other, otherwise all those personal pronouns might just be a reflection of narcissism.

Your friend Laurie raises an incredibly important question about the implications of Pennebaker’s theory.  There are many languages that do not employ, or relatively under-employ in comparison to English, personal subject pronouns.  Does that say something about the speakers’ capacity for self-awareness and reflection?  An early developmental theory about thought process posited that human thought was internalized speech – that when we think we talk to ourselves.  Of course, this was quickly challenged:   was the theory implying that people without speech therefore can’t think?  This led to rigorous testing of deaf-from-birth subjects, who indeed demonstrated rigorous thinking.  The argument was that language as it is spoken could not be what underwrites thinking.  The counter-argument was that deaf people do indeed have language, just a differently executed one, and that thought is dependent on a symbol system.  Spoken language, it was argued, was a symbol system but not necessarily a privileged one: thought requires a symbol system that allows us to represent what we know about the world but it doesn’t have to be spoken English.  There’s just that pinch of imperialism, of arrogance, in Pennebaker’s piece that assumes that the way spoken English works tells us something profound about the human condition.



1 comment:

  1. Internal thought and external speach, in any language, I've assumed is all symbols. For those of us who think visually, internal word speach/dialog is sometimes mainly visuals, real, imagined or abstract, that might take over in the absence of words. In my internal thought I'm aware of non-word sound symbols, scent and occasionally touch...all part of internal ponderings, directed or unbidden.

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