Re: Of Postmodernism, Spins, and What The Hell (fwd)

Gary Blanchard (
Thu, 30 May 1996 13:26:32 -0700

Dear Mike-

What a grand way you have of saying things! Thanks
very much for your latest on the above. I will be looking it over for
awhile, I assure you.

With your permission, I'd like to check out a couple of your points with
you, to improve my clarity of your point:

First, I was really taken with your characterization of metanarratives
(which I picked up from Lois) as "grand narratives...." That really gets
the spirit of the matter front and center for me.

As to the first of two of those which you offered:

> many postmodernists center their discussions around the notion of
> _dialogicality_, a notion imported from Bakhtin and others. Any
>statement about the world, about selves, etc. is founded in dialogue.

Gary Replies: Kind of like saying, 'we live in language?' I would
appreciate any reference you might have to the date/title of Bakhtin and
others on this point of 'dialogicality,' a term I've never heard before,
but whose relevance I can sense as valuable.

>Under modernism, everything is explained using some grand narrative, and
>thus ideas that don't fit the grand narrative are marginalized.

Gary replies: Sure would appreciate an example or two here, although I
guess Bob spoke to this point in a prior note.

>Postmodernism would encourage the dissolution of grand narratives and
>the inclusion of all groups within dialouge about any given issue.

>Within dialgoue, there would be no necessary allegiance to any grand
>narrative, no necessity to be consistent with any ideological
>assumptions. There would be a sense of pragmatism here, and dialogue
>would produce solutions (solutions to social problems, solutions about
>how to characterize the world) the value of which would be determined by
>what works best in the context in question and with the interlocutors in
> A second solution, related to the first, is what Gergen calls
>"serious play". If we reject grand narratives, then the issue becomes
>one of playing with language, playing with ideas of how to construct

Gary replies: I tentatively interpret you to be saying here that the
nature of the 'grand narratives' is, essentially, ideological. (As in, a
way of belief a about what is 'right,' or 'proper.')

Assuming that Austen and Searle (Philosophy of Language),
and Maturana and Varela (The Biology of Cognition), are correct in
their views about the nature and operation of language...
[...i.e., language is NOT a thing or object; and IS a
transparent, but nonetheless real phenomenon...]
THEN the ontology of language may be a new 'grand narrative'
in this new Postmodernist period, at least for those of us who have
adopted the paradigm shift that lets us see past the traditional paradigm
of objectivism, and into the new one of constructivism.

An observer who has experienced such a shift certainly can agree with
you, then, that:

>...such [language] play is not just academic. In the world in which we
>have to act, we can play with our interpretations and solutions in a
>serious way -- trying out one construction, then another, in order to
>see what works.
> Mike Mascolo

Thanks again, Mike. I look forward to learning more from, and with, you
and our other maillist friends!

Sincerely, Gary