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David McNally, in Bodies of Meaning, offers a radically different proposal. . that McNally is defending 'a dialectical approach to issues of language and .. on prior speculation (about the relationship between communication 30 McNally Meet Andy McNally, who is empathetic (almost to a. in the last three episodes of season 2, Andy and Sam enter a relationship. Unsure of whether she can trust Sam, Andy leaves on an undercover mission with Nick Collins, leaving Sam sitting . Nevertheless, despite the ups and downs, they fixed their problems and in. Rookie Blue 4×11 Focus Review: Who's Best for Andy McNally, Sam or Nick? happy about the Andy and Nick Collins (Peter Mooney) relationship. up in his house, Andy calls Sam to let him know Marlo could be in trouble.
This was most apparent in the tradition of carnival. Most importantly, he detects a tendency to overstate the oppositional dimensions of popular culture, and to neglect aspects of containment and accommodation.
Gramsci dealt with this problem with much greater acuity — understanding the need for creative political leadership in rendering popular culture emancipatory, rather than just resistant.
In this way, he is suggesting, we will be able both to retain sight of the corporeal aspects of language, and to theorise what becomes of these in contemporary capitalism. The Bakhtinian carnival is one way in which this might happen.
Capitalism contains and re-orients the very impulses and desires which 5 Cited in McNallyp. For Benjamin, there were two types of experience which could facilitate their accessibility — memories of childhood, and, in particular, dreams. For, as children at play, we come closest to expressing desires for a mimetic relationship with the world of people and things, and as we proceed into adulthood, these desires are forced back into our dream-life.
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Childhood memories and dreams, then, could enable us to access fragments of corporeal reason, relatively independently of the distorting effects of money and commodities. As McNally puts it: Thus, in constructing such dialectical images: McNally then argues that, for Benjamin, all of this has a profound relevance for the problem of language. This brings us back to the notion of a linguistic unconscious. Yet, in terms of developing a critical-materialist approach to language that can inform an emancipatory politics, it might leave many readers cold.
But the whole turn to Benjamin renders this decidedly problematic. The Arcades project was focused on images related to consumption p.
Andy McNally and Nick Collins Return to 15 Division on the Season Premiere of ABC’s ‘Rookie Blue’
Now, indeed, the whole argument is developed in abstraction from everyday struggles. Instead, the possibility of emancipation is located in something apparently much more nebulous. For McNally is suggesting that there is an alternative rationality inherent within language itself, which is at odds with the instrumental reason of modern capitalism, and which, if it could be extracted and acted upon, would have great emancipatory possibilities.
For many readers, this manner of locating emancipatory potential will seem just too nebulous. But, to compound matters, McNally proceeds to subscribe such awesome powers to the commodity that he, for all practical purposes, crushes even that nebulous potential.
For, while language is now seen as a storehouse of emancipatory desires and energies, the commodity contains, and indeed feeds off, these desires and energies. We invest ourselves in, identify ourselves with, and empathise with commodities.
But there is an inherent, and not entirely unfamiliar, danger in this line of argument. It is that ascribing such awesome power to the commodity can undermine, and indeed ultimately remove, the basis of emancipatory politics — simply by making an investment in its practice seem completely futile.
All that one feels able to envision are attempts to develop emancipatory practices the creation of dialectical images among marginal groups and coteries — politicised artists in all probability — with few, if any, links to wider and larger groups. For, should McNally have looked, he would have found that in many places, not least in contemporary Britain and in other countries of Europe, these struggles and sentiments are often opposed to the commodity-form, and its reassertion in areas of life and work where its logic has previously been rejected in varying degrees.
In one way, this is understandable, for it was not always the most productive of debates. The relatively recent contribution by Brandist is interesting and potentially much more productive. Moreover, there is little, if anything, in his broader account of language that could be described as either populist or unrelentingly optimistic.
Indeed, he also provides some clear guidance for us in any attempt to apply and develop these concepts. Thus, Voloshinov seems just to get left behind. In this light, the analysis of Voloshinov begins to look rather unsympathetic and perhaps quite impatient. What emerges is that, even if one were to accept with McNally that we must develop a critical-materialist account of language from the site of the body, it would still seem possible to do so without dealing with Voloshinov in the above manner.
If anything, the trajectory of his own writings seem to demonstrate that this is a step backwards, rather than forwards, for historical materialism. I will suggest that all of this tends to increase the scepticism we should feel towards the departure McNally advocates. The most important part of his reply in this regard is the opening section.
Here, he seeks to claim for himself the mantle of Marxist dialectics. McNally seeks to identify himself with the dialectical spirit that animated their thinking. There is no mention of the central thesis of his book — nor of the specifics of my own critique.
There are two main points to be made in response to all of this. It is a story of the insight and intelligence of dialectics versus the static, schematic and dogmatic stupidity of vulgar materialism. It is, in other words, a straight, if not officious, story of the good versus the bad — one in which McNally is to be unproblematically located on the side of the virtuous, and his adversary on the other side.
McNally later claims that I resort to obfuscation regarding his treatment of Voloshinov. He seeks to achieve this through the power of identification, rather than through proper argument.
The language, perhaps symptomatically, is very stark. Yet, to the more alert reader, all of this might, prima facie, seem at least a bit strange. One might hope for some kind of analysis to support the contention. But McNally does not offer that. In reality, he is defending only his own attempt to do it from someone who wants to do the same thing — but who disagrees about how to do it. By suggesting otherwise, he obfuscates what is actually at issue in our exchange, and avoids the need to respond to the substantive criticisms raised against his work.
In this light, I would like to suggest that the reader consult afresh my review of Bodies.
Clearly, this did not dish out officious stamps of approval and disapproval. Nor, as we will see below, does it opt for obfuscation regarding his treatment of Voloshinov.
But we will be reminded of it still as we proceed. Postmodernism and immanent critique: This might be because McNally provides very little in the way of an argument to justify the contention.
But he provides no more than a brief rhetorical flourish — which I shall come to below. He sidesteps the problem by again invoking the issue of dialectics. He claims that I fault Bodies for its method of immanent of critique, and that I do so because I understand virtually nothing about that method.
This looks worryingly like another obfuscation. I plainly do not fault McNally for adopting immanent critique. My challenge was, and remains, cast in terms of what it is that McNally chooses to apply that method to, and where that application leads him. The editing misrepresents the nature of the claim. This would be at odds with what he says about dialectics more generally, and not least with his comment in Bodies that: One effect of this, as McNally helpfully points out, is that it will no longer be apparent how we are even to begin to connect our main critical theoretical resources to the experience of real struggles.
For, in that case, McNally could quite reasonably stand himself next to Marx and Voloshinov. All commit to the method. Of course, we must address and refute the claims of postmodernism. Many already have, and McNally in the first part of Bodies undoubtedly adds to the existing work that has done so. But this does not mean that we should fundamentally re-orientate our critical practice through our engagement with it, and if McNally wants to continue to insist on this, not just as a possibility or as a personal preference, but as a necessity for all of us seeking to contribute towards the development of a Marxist treatment of language, then he has some very significant work of persuasion yet to do.
But, in order to do this, he has first to summarise what he actually generates through his critique of postmodernism. His summary is a useful one in that it neatly encapsulates the limitations and problems of where that engagement leads. There is much to admire in the way McNally pursues this engagement. But, precisely because it is meant to provide the necessary basis for the project of developing critical materialism, we have to ask what it really adds to our approach.
The answer is not as much as McNally wants to imply. The latter group also, in the first half of the last century, entered the terrain of evolutionary biology and anthropology in developing their approach to language and consciousness. This brings us to Voloshinov. Hitherto, as we have seen, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language has been seen as perhaps the key contribution to develop 15 On the latter point see, for example, LeontyevLuriaLuria and Vygotsky See also Van der Veer and Valsiner McNally is now proposing something very different.
Now, a reviewer should look for some good reasons for this. The first thing to observe here is just how significant that departure is. Notably, however, he fails to respond to the observation that it is difficult to see what gets carried forward from that work in the wake of his critique. Its only further mention is on the penultimate page of Bodies. It is not mentioned at all in the long final chapter.
If the departure is so significant, then, how is it justified? It is argued on the grounds that Voloshinov, in trying to distance himself from crude, pre-dialectical materialisms, ends up tending mechanically to contrast signs with things, and language and consciousness with nature and the body.
Now, McNally does, though only in a footnote, acknowledge that the case here is not at all straightforward. However, since McNally insists, let us pursue the engagement a little further. Since space is limited, I will focus on just one particularly problematic example. In his reply, McNally quotes Voloshinov as follows: He claims that this shows how Voloshinov proceeds dualistically rather than dialectically. The only possible definition of consciousness is a sociological one.
Consciousness takes shape and being in the material of signs created by an organized group in the process of its social intercourse. The logic of consciousness is the logic of ideological communication, of the semiotic interaction of a social group. Consciousness can harbor only in the image, the word, the meaningful gesture and so forth.
Outside such material, there remains the sheer physiological act unilluminated by consciousness, i. In doing so, he identifies a number of properties that belong to language. This has determined the role of the word as the semiotic material of inner life — of consciousness inner speech. Indeed, consciousness could have developed only by having at its disposal material that was pliable and expressible by bodily means.
And the word was exactly that kind of material. The word is available as the sign for, so to speak, inner employment: For this reason, the problem of individual consciousness as the inner word as an inner sign becomes one of the most vital problems in the philosophy of language. In the first passage, it is clear that Voloshinov is saying something that McNally himself grants: But it is clear that he is not saying what McNally then attributes to him: Voloshinov is saying that consciousness, though it cannot be derived directly from nature, is still inextricably linked to it.
This sounds very much like the lesson McNally wants to teach Voloshinov, but it is not at all clear that the latter needs it. Things become more problematic still when we look at the second passage. Quite the reverse — consciousness and language are being connected in the most fundamental way to the body. It would be possible to continue with further examples along the lines of the above. What emerges is that even if one were to accept with McNally that we must develop a critical materialist account of language from the site of the body, it would still seem possible to do so without dealing with Voloshinov in the above manner.
For it seems seriously to undermine the pathway along which he choreographs the movement from Voloshinov through Bakhtin and onto Benjamin. From Bakhtin to Benjamin: Yet McNally offers nothing at all by way of response. Indeed, he avoids acknowledging the point, and even edits a sentence he quotes from my review to ensure this omitting the part italicised in what follows: