Macke Interview at Figure/Ground

This is really just a quick thing, but a prof/mentor/friend of mine, Dr. Frank Macke, has been interviewed by Figure/Ground about a lot of different things. I think that the things he has to say about his formulation of communicology is really smart, and it can inform a reading of text and the body together in a really unique way. In any case, have some choice quotes:

As a Foucaultian, I find the concept of discipline to be a matter of tremendous epistemic significance.  Although it does not take nearly as much time to form as it did in previous ages, an academic discipline is a significant intellectual accomplishment.  It is, of course, contingent on other disciplines, flowing in and out of their histories and methods, and like all systems it is bound to experience entropy.  But it serves a critical function for intellectual work.  A discipline entails a set of conditions for asking questions, addressing experience, assembling data, and reading texts.  The discipline of sociology concerns the socius, the social body, as a thematic and problematic for the analysis of the comportment of groups.  The discipline of psychology concerns the psyche, the Geist (spirit) or mind, as a thematic and problematic for the analysis of meaning, intention, and individual comportment.  The discipline of communicology, as my colleagues and I have recently come to formulate and define it, concerns the communis, the relational body—the chiasm (or flesh), as Merleau-Ponty puts it. The chiasm, understood, again, as the relational-body, or the speaking-perceiving body, is not interchangeable with the socius or thepsyche.  The speaking-perceiving body is defined by its mortality—by the inarticulate vulnerability of its birth and infancy and, then, by the processes of maturity, aging, and departure.

Communicology, psychology, and sociology are, all three, quite recent developments in the history of intellectual work.  The three of them, along with the systematic study of language and representation (in the philological tradition as: semiotics, linguistics, rhetoric, and poetics) have immense potential to constitute a vital and responsive Geisteswissenschaften for the 21st Century, particularly if the North American scholars in these fields would, once and for all, let go of positivism and behaviorism.  Simply, I have no idea how one can productively generate theory and insight into matters of human experience with the same general methods used for the analysis of the natural world.

I am, as you may now, heavily invested in the question of the community and what makes up communities (and the body of the community), and now you see where that (partially) comes from. Have some more!

Inasmuch as communication theory obliges us to understand the meaning of human community and communion, it follows that we must pay attention to the manner in which human experience is constituted in relationship.  Even with incredible scientific advances, such as in vitro fertilization, or even cloning, human beings are not ultimately created in laboratories.  We are, each, carried to term in a womb.  Upon birth, even after the umbilical cord is cut, we cannot survive apart from human nurturing.  Our existence is relational.  Our experience is relational.  Our meaning is relational.  From where I sit the only way of asking the right questions about experience is by way of existential phenomenology and, after the strong influence of Richard Lanigan, semiotic phenomenology (which he has termed “communicology”). 

This remarkably close to the kind of arguments that Peter Sloterdijk makes about the fetal life and what it means to live in a world where the second self is destroyed–we have to fix it, we have to repair ourselves, we have to try to reconstitute the womb.

In any case, read the interview.

This entry was posted in General Features and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.