Re: Introductory Comments

Gary Blanchard (
Tue, 14 May 1996 17:27:29 -0700

Dear Bob-

Welcome to the conversation. I'm glad to hear from you.

I would like to offer some comments on your message, again, from the
perspective that I have worked at for the past decade...what I can only
call 'operational constructivism.' Incidentally, I must have been 4-5
years coming to this capability, so I have no illusions that I others
will proceed more quickly, although they could. [I have always seemed to
myself to be kind of a 'late bloomer,' but once I 'bloom'---GOT IT!]

Herewith some points for your consideration (and the lists' as well):

You write:
>Because the self is such a transient construction....

I reply:What is this entity of which you speak, this ....SELF? Have you
evidence for such a thing? I would be most interested in
examining it, in keeping with the highest standards of science.
Of course, if you have none, then you must release your claim.
And then where are we? Where, indeed, is the methodology?

Further, you write:
>What about "a 'definition' of transparency...."? From what I have read
>in the exchange, it appears that "transparency" captures the ways in
>which someone is aware - particularly self-conscious - of the operations
>of language. The transparency of language appears to be illustrated by
>examples which show us unaware of what we are doing (Gary's reference to
>an internal dialogue before speaking). And Wendy refers to the way we
>become puzzled, or the way we "stumble" when the word that comes to mind
>isn't quite the right one to express a meaning. There is a sort of
>"tear" in the fabric of communication that disrupts the transparency of

I reply: My definition of 'transparency' is like that of window glass, or
a car windshield. We train ourselves to look through it, not at it,
so we come not to notice it hardly at all -- unless it becomes dirty
or flawed. It,however,is there all the time;performing a
critically-important function,very tangibly. But we don't see it.

Perhaps we could refer to this as a kind of functional blindness. I
suggest it also is the kind of blindness that we humans experience
when we are immersed so completely in our paradigms that we don't
know we have paradigms, and certainly don't think we are immersed in

I have only to reflect on the course of injustice in the world,
historically and now, to feel that this phenomenon is amply
illustrated. This is what allows terrorists to operate, misogynists
to oppress, abusers to victimize, etc. They don't see , and they
don't see that they don't see. Instead, they think they do see, and
rightly. So I have come to distrust certainty, and righteousness.

Next, you say:
>As stated by Lecercle, in "The Violence of Languages", every utterance
>is "a Freudian compromise between the two extreme positions: 'I speak
>language' and 'language speaks'."

I reply: I can understand the phrase, 'I speak.' But what is it that one
does when one 'speaks language'? Can one 'speak non-language'? Or
'some language?' Hmmm.

And what about that proposition that 'language speaks'? Doesn't
this require us to be clear about what the entity, 'lanuage,'
is---so we can examine it and see if, indeed, IT can speak?
This is getting curiouser and curiouser to me.

Finally, you note that:
> the terms I have come to use - language is both medium and tool,
>and our constructions are made upon the slippery slopes between these
>two poles. As medium, language is transparent as air. It is the bearer
>of oxygen of the soul, the bearer of nitrogen to the roots of the
>person. Living is FROM language, and through language....

I reply: Beautiful hyperbole. Scientifically.....???

Reluctantly, I am coming to the tentative conclusion that many of us have
unwittingly embraced a paradigm-become-religion. Instead of honoring the
spirit of the founder, and kapt alive a rigorous search for truth, we
have instead slipped into the conviction that we have found truth. And
thus does inquiry become belief, and science slide into superstition.

Thanks for the chance to comment.

Best to all. No hard feelings, I hope. sincerely, gary